Welcome to the Colca Valley! Located deep in the Andes, 100 miles northwest of Arequipa is Peru’s third biggest tourist attraction and the biggest canyon in the world. Many choose to head to Colca for a 3-day long hike, others, such as myself, visit the canyon for just a day. And it’s a must see. Colca is for sure one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Chances are, no matter the tour you’re on, you’ll be visiting the plains between Arequipa and Colca prior to getting to the Canyon itself. And they’re bloody lush. Take your time to stop at designated viewpoints and enjoy the sight of the pre-Incan stepped terraces (andenes) cared for by the Collagua and Cabana culture.
The above photographed Majes River was believed by the Incas to flow directly into the Milky Way, I kinda get it, this place is just so ridiculously stunning that it doesn’t feel part of the normal human experience. And to bring it back, often sacrifices and tributes were thrown into this river to reach the Gods.
It’s also around this point that you’ll have to pay entry to the park, often not covered by the trek or tour prices. This is around 70 soles, so be prepared! There are also many local street vendors dotted about the most popular viewpoints of the Valley.
The Canyon Itself
That’s quite the sight isn’t it? Bloody big bugger it is.
If you’ve come via coach, the carpark is near one of the largest viewpoints for the Andean Condors, Cruz Del Condor, as we’ll get onto later, but this little spot is found by doubling back on yourself a little. It’s a quite nook that really shows you just how vast the canyon is, it’s a little hard to comprehend as the valley stretches a massive 56km.
Apart from the lush views of the canyon itself, tourists flock to Colca to see the famous Andean Condors soaring through the valley. However, the birds are quite rare and there’s a solid chance you won’t see any on your visit. We were very lucky, and saw around 10-15 flying around.
The condors fly close to the canyon walls, sometimes within 15-20 feet of people. These birds are massive too, with a wingspan between 7 and 9 feet.
Cruz del Condor is one of the busiest spots, and one of the best to see the condors and the canyon at a massive 3,900 feet above the canyon floor. It’s crowded as all hell, but it’s a good spot to relax for a few minutes and watch these huge birds fly by.
Whilst it can often be cool in the canyon, as you can see from above, I was wrapped up for winter in the UK, it’s likely to be extremely sunny. Bring a cap, sunglasses and get applying suncream regularly.
Visit Colca Canyon!
This is a place you have to see, whether it’s by trekking or by bus. The latter of which could be preferable if you’re pressed for time, or already planning a trek to Machu Picchu or Rainbow Mountain. Some tours can be found here on PeruHop from as little $26.00 + entry fee. as You’ve got to go and see it however, being one of the most beautiful places in South America.
I’ll leave you with links to some other posts on Peru, and a boatload of pictures taken around Colca Valley.