Colca Canyon, located approximately 100 miles northwest of Arequipa, is one of the deepest chasms in the world; at some points, its sloping walls drop for more than two miles. The surrounding landscape is dominated by the snowy peaks of the Cordillera Chila; mounts Hualca Hualca and Sabancaya; and the 20,630-foot Ampato volcano. These mountains feed the Colca River, which carved the canyon.
The Colca supports 14 traditional towns, where life is much as it was a century ago. Maca and Lari, in the central portion of the valley, are noteworthy for their historic churches. At Coporaque, Ichupampa and Yanque in the valley's east, the indigenous communities maintain their traditions and cultivate the terraced hillsides. Colca has been inhabited for thousands of years; Inca and pre-Inca sites are found at Jusacallacta, Pumunuta, Uyo Uyo and Tupay.
Horseback is an excellent way to see the canyon. Trekking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and day-trips to hot springs and geysers are also available.
For many visitors, the highlight is a morning excursion to the Condor's Cross, one of the highest points in the canyon. Andean Condors, with wingspans of up to ten feet, ride thermal currents near this observation point.
Several hotels and lodges are located in or around the colonial town of Chivay. Due to the altitude, the climate is warm during the day and chilly at night. Average dry season temperatures range from freezing to the high 60s. The rainy season, when cloud cover is present, runs from November to March.
Colca is most easily reached by land from Arequipa. The four-hour journey passes through Altiplano populated by vicuña, alpacas and llamas. Several of the mountainsides along the route were terraced by Inca and Pre-Inca cultures.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Peru and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"Against my will, in the course of my travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore off. In this respect my travels were very useful to me."