COTAHUASI CANYON

COTAHUASI CANYON

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With nearly double the depth of the Grand Canyon, this Peruvian canyon is one of the deepest in the world, the Cotahuasi Canyon.

Measuring approximately 11,595 feet at its deepest point, Cotahuasi Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world—more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. It’s an impressive thing to imagine and even more spectacular to behold.

Cut by the Cotahuasi River, the canyon forms a fantastic landscape of traditional Andean farms and terraced fields, steep canyon walls and plunging gullies, and occasional pre-Inca and Inca ruins.

The immense chasm is located in southern Peru, about 123 miles northwest of Arequipa. Its deepest point runs near the village of Quechualla, a six or seven-hour trek down the canyon from the town of Cotahuasi. Near the latter town, the canyon runs closest to its nearest high point: the extinct volcanic massif of Nevado Solimana, which has a peak that stretches 19,990 feet above sea level.

As well as protecting the local flora and fauna, including the magnificent Andean condors, the reserve helps maintain a traditional way of life. The often centuries-old agricultural practices of the local farmers include the cultivation of crops such as kiwicha, quinoa, tarwi, chulpe maize, muña, and a variety of other beans (the kind of things that stores in more developed countries package and sell as “superfoods”).