Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, is a four to five hour bus ride from Arequipa in southern Peru, and is well worth the trip.
Although its canyon walls are not completely vertical, Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Many tourists visit the canyon to see the great Andean Condors from a vista called “Cruz del Condor" and then leave. After seeing the magnificence of the canyon in person my friends Fletcher and Naren and I concluded that we wanted to hike directly into it and began exploring our options.
We took the one of the many busses from Arequipa directly to an authentic village called Cabanaconde and stayed at an amazing hostel called Valle De Fuego.
Every room at Valle De Fuego had a mud brick oven and the reception area was really cozy with another brick oven blazing throughout the day. It is safe to say that it was my favorite hostel we stayed in during all of our travels in South America.
The owner of Valle De Fuego was very helpful and friendly and can set you up with a hike into the canyon. He even drew us a map.
We had a few days, so we decided to venture out on a leisurely three day, two-night hike.
Our first day was spectacular with beautiful views of the canyon and the clouds burning away as the sun rose. We descended for about 4 hours until we reached the bottom of the canyon and crossed the river on a swinging bridge. We were recommended a place to stay with a Peruvian family who had two thatched huts for rent.
The bottom of the canyon is very and lush and feels almost tropical, a stark contrast to the villages on top which are arid and rocky.
We spent the sunny afternoon exploring other small villages in the base of the canyon and enjoying the heat. There are a few restaurants to choose from but usually who ever you stay with will offer to cook for you.
The next day, we walked slowly through many more small villages passing beautiful stone churches and grassy soccer fields until we reached the “Oasis” for our second nights stay.
The Oasis looks and feels completely surreal and mirage-like. There is a man made pool, two thatched huts to sleep in, cold beverages to quench your thirst, and if you are lucky you’ll see many giant Andean condors flying overhead.
The third day is by far the most strenuous. It is basically straight up to the top of the canyon.
This hike into Colca Canyon is really enjoyable and I highly recommend it if you want to see more of the canyon and witness the amazing canyon culture from a different perspective.
The altitude in Arequipa is just above 6,562 feet (2,000 meters) and the altitude at the top of the canyon is 10,784 feet (3,287 meters).
If you are coming from Lima, the altitude change can be devastating so be sure to hydrate for days in advance before going to Colca Canyon. You will be well above 13,123 feet (4,000 meters) during the bus ride to the canyon.
Note: Arequipa has one of the beautiful colonial plazas I’ve ever seen, La Plaza de Armas.
Colca Canyon on YouTube
I really like the atmospheric but comfortable Grafton Capital Hotel, a small, older, and less expensive hotel in the heart More
Snapped these photos of Saint Stepen's Green and Merrion Square Park featuring trees in Dublin on 2013.02.27. Luckily for me, More
With her extensive life experience, I am not surprised by the wealth of terrific travel advice The Travel Authority Jeanine More
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief has become threatened as never before. Can you imagine the Chief, one of the most scenic Amtrak More