The Colca Canyon is a well known cliff just 160 kilometers outside of Arequipa. It is formed due to erosion of the volcanic rock by the Colca River. Due to the rather gentle cliff it does not appear that deep, but with an astonishing 3.270 meters it is twice as deep as Americas’ Grand Canyon. The name ”Colca” is derived from the clefts in the wall of the canyon which are called colcas. They were used by the Incas for several reasons, including food storage (patotoes, quinoa etc), and graveyards for important people.
The canyon offers a unique ecosystem giving place for many species of animals like llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, pumas and many more. Besides this, it’s known for its famous bird; the condor. It can be beheld from close distance from the Cruz del Condor, which you certainly won’t miss during the tour!
Day 1: Arequipa – Cruz del Cóndor – Sangelle Oasis
We will pick you up from your hostel, early in the morning around 03:15 a.m.; the tour begins! We start our travel by bus and after some hours we arrive in the town of Chivay where we enjoy our breakfast. We drive along the road while crossing beautiful nature known for its ‘bofedales’ (wetland vegetation with underlying peat layers) where we also may spot several bird types, one of which is the cóndor. Don’t worry if you’ve missed them during the ride, as we make a stop at the Cruz del Cóndor; At this area we have great chances of setting eyes on this type of vulture with a wingspan up to 3.5 meters!
After our break we continue our trip to the town of Cabanaconde at 3.280 meters above sea level, the place where we start our hike downwards. The first 1.000 meters of descending are conquered in about 3.5 hours of hiking. Here we can have a rest, take our lunch and visit the small place of San Juan de Chuccho.
After lunch we walk for 1.5 hours more, until we arrive in Cosñirhua, descending approximately 600 meters more (to 2.660 meters). Fill up your energy for the last hike of the day, as we have to descend to 1.160 meters to reach the Sangalle Oasis. We can enjoy our free time, take our rest, have dinner and bathe in the naturally warmed pools, where after you can dive in your bungalow-bed!
Day 2: Sangelle Oasis – Cabanaconde – Arequipa
Today we have to get up early as we have to start hiking up the cliff from 05:00 a.m. onwards. Prepare for a tough hike, dress for cold weather, make sure to eat some light energy rich snacks and bring plenty water: in approximately 3 hours we ascend 2.000 meters back to the town of Cabanaconde. With the sun rising and the whole group slowly arriving at the top, we can proudly take a short rest, have our breakfast and enjoy a coffee.
The tour is not yet finished! We take the bus to go to the Chivay district which is considered to be the most important town along the Colca Valley. In this region we can find the natural thermal baths of La Calera. With temperatures 38º Celcius, the baths are thought to have medicinal effects on the human body, go try them! After relaxing in the baths we meet each other back in Chivay. Make sure to grab some lunch for yourself before we travel back to Arequipa by bus. On the road we cross El Mirador de los Andes (literally, ‘’view over the Andes’’), the highest paved road in the whole of Peru (almost in the whole world) at 4920 meters. Besides this, the road crosses the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve which is known for its volcanoes, lagoons, wetlands, and unique flora and fauna that thrive at those altitudes. We arrive back in Arequipa at around 05:30 p.m.
This travel itinerary is very detailed. Because of circumstances – weather, time to pick up people, South American culture – we cannot guarantee that you will carry out this itinerary perfectly. This travel itinerary should be used as a guideline.
- Professional guide (English / Spanish)
- Tourist transport
- Night at a lodge in the oasis
- 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch menu, 1 dinner
- First aid kit
- Lunch on the second day
- Thermal baths (15 soles)
- Colca Valley tourist ticket (70 soles)
- Original identification documents (passport, ID)
- Student ID (optional)
- Flashlight (extra batteries)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Walking stick (optional)
- Extra money
- Small backpack & rain cover
- Personal medication kit
- Clothing – prepare for cold weather; we’re hiking in the cliff and in the early morning!
- Gloves/scarfs/hats for the cold blooded
- Thermal clothing
- Small towel
- Socks (warm)
- Walking shoes or good sandals
2 days / 1 nights
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