Colca Canyon travel advice

by on 19th January, 2017

Colca Canyon travel advice, Peru

Kat reminisces about her trip to the Colca Canyon in Peru, walks in verdant countryside, midnight cocktails in hot springs and marvelling at Condors soaring above. (Oh, and don’t forget the hot, sweaty climb out of the canyon).

Check her pictures on Facebook and Pinterest.


She writes…


The Valley              

“Many don’t realise that a trip to the Colca Canyon also is a trip to the Colca Valley, where you can wander along old paths through great agricultural terraces, where locals plant a huge and impressive variety of crops, where life is simple.

It is beautiful and in many ways just how you imagine rural Peru.

Going for some walks, as part of your stay but also on your own, is such a relaxing experience – I would always recommend allowing three days at least in total for your trip, although the highlights can be covered in two.

Oh and of course there are hot springs! All tours will make time for a visit to La Calera hot springs, near Chivay – but if you can, stretch your budget to a stay at Colca Lodge and enjoy their private hot springs, right by the river, with lovely views.

And the best part? You can soak 24 hours a day, with a cocktail in hand – whenever you fancy it.  Nothing like a moonlit late night hot spring soak.


The mighty Condor

It isn’t until day 2 that you venture further, in search of the famous Condor.

You’ll at around 5:30am, and drive to the canyon, which is said to be the second deepest canyon in the world (beaten by Yarlung Zangbo, Tibet) – take that, Grand Canyon! Arriving at Cruz del Condor in the early hours of the day is essential to see the spectacle unfold.

Condors will wait for the air to warm to take advantage of the warmer currents to help them lift their enormous bodies off the ground, gaining height and slowly rising up the Canyon.

Seeing a condor soar, especially at such close range, is truly magical – even if surrounded by groups of people. No wonder this majestic bird takes such a prominent role in Peruvian mythology, it is such a beautiful and impressive sight.


Andean condor flying Colca Canyon Peru

Andean condor, Colca Canyon. Peru


Digging deeper

While standard tours return to Chivay after viewing the condors  (and from there to Lake Titicaca or back to Arequipa), I decided to dig a little deeper. In fact, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

So I continued further into the canyon and started my descent on foot from the village of Cabanaconde (3,287m) to the “Oasis”, a few houses and guesthouses located at the bottom of the canyon at approximately 2,160m. The descent was made more pleasant with a good pair of walking poles (the knees!) and stunning views all-round.

On arrival at the guesthouse there was still time to relax, swing in a hammock (bring a book!) and take a dip in the pool. It was idyllic and quiet. The guesthouses are very basic, so this is only for those happy to rough it in exchange for the glory of having hiked into the canyon.

The return to Cabanaconde the next day was not something I would call enjoyable – let’s just say it was a rather relentless uphill, and to top it off you start at around 4am, to avoid having to struggle in the heat.

What I would recommend is taking an additional day and opting for the Colca Canyon 3 day hike, which is a more rounded experience as it isn’t just a “simple” down and back up trek, but takes you a little further.

But I made it, definitely feeling satisfied.

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