So, you’ve got to that part of your Peru vacation planning where you can’t decide which places to visit and what you may need to cut out in order to fit with your timeframe. It’s difficult as there are so many options in a country as diverse as Peru, that someone planning their trip can get overwhelmed.
One great option to include in your trip is a visit to the Colca Canyon in the south of Peru. This article will help you decide if you should include it in your Peru vacation or not.
What is the Colca Canyon?
The Colca Canyon was formed by the Colca river, and is located about 160km northwest of Arequipa. Most visitors use Arequipa as the base for trips to the canyon, which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is considered the second deepest in the world.
Who goes to the Colca Canyon?
The Canyon has plenty of options for outdoor types and adventurers as well as those who simply enjoy spectacular scenery and traditional towns and villages. There are many popular treks around the Canyon, from two day circuits on well maintained paths to seven day routes that require an experienced guide. Rafting, mountain-biking, climbing and horse-riding are also popular. You can also take a dip in the ‘La Calera’ thermal baths whilst enjoying the superb scenery.
Wildlife enthusiasts have a near guarantee of seeing the largest land-based bird in the world, the giant Andean Condor. Visitors to the ‘Cruz Del Condor’ viewpoint in the early morning can see these huge birds swooping past the lookout point over the precarious drop into the base of the Canyon, 1.2 kilometers below.
How much time do I need to visit the Colca Canyon?
Including travel from Arequipa and then on to Lake Titicaca or back to Arequipa, three days are a good length of time. However, if you want to take more time to investigate Arequipa and the Colca Canyon, there is plenty to do to fill up any additional days! Alternatively if you are pushed for time the canyon can be visited as an overnight trip. A day trip from Arequipa is not recommended due to the travelling time involved.
What else can you combine with Colca on a Peru vacation?
Based in the south of Peru, the Colca Canyon is near to the impressive Lake Titicaca that sits on the border with Bolivia. Visitors can visit the various islands dotted around the lake and see the hand-woven floating reed houses that the local people still live on.
Also in the south and easy to combine in a circular route from Lima is Cusco and the Sacred Valley; the ancient centre of the Inca Empire. From there it is possible to travel to the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu, perhaps hiking the last 46 kilometers along the popular Inca Trail or one of the alternative routes.
Also relatively easy to include in your circuit are the Nazca Lines, a mysterious collection of ancient geoglyphs carved into the Nazca desert. Shapes range from simple geometric forms and lines to animal shapes like monkeys, birds and lizards. No-one is really sure why the lines exist, or who put them there.
The Colca Canyon is most commonly combined into a tour taking in Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. To this route you can easily add the southern coast and Nazca Lines and/or the Amazon Rainforest depending on the time you have available.
Have you visited the Colca Canyon? What did you think?
Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America