The Colca Canyon is a gigantic canyon and an area of outstanding scenic beauty by the Colca River in southern Peru situated around 160 kilometers from Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city. The canyon reaches an incredible depth of 3140 metres. This amazing spectacle is Peru’s 3rd most visited tourist attraction with around 200,000 tourists travelling there annually. The canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Nevada, USA. There are still people from the Collagua and Cabana cultures living in the Colca Valley and they still maintain the traditions of ancient Incan times. If you like adventure tours and experiential tourism, then the canyon offers you a great experience with one of the best treks in the world, allowing you to explore the oasis’s, thermal springs (including La Calera in Chivay, the largest town in the Colca Canyon) and to camp outdoors in the wild.
The Colca Canyon is home to the Andean Condor, the world’s largest bird group (Vultur Gryphus), which can be seen flying at close range past the canyons vertical faces. Many tourists come here just to view these spectacular birds of prey. The point of ‘Cruz Del Condor’ is where the birds can be seen at their best, which is situated around 1200 metres from the top of the canyon and here the condors rise on the warm air thermals gracefully, which is a sight that you will never forget. There are also other fascinating birds and animals including the Andean Goose, Chilean Flamingo, the Giant Colibri (the largest member of the hummingbird family), alpaca, llamas, vicuna and guanacos (South American canelids).
There are a variety of treks available at the canyon, but the most popular one with tourists is the 2 day trek, which includes a sleepover at the bottom of the canyon by the lovely oasis. For the hiking fanatics there is a longer 5 day trek that takes you to an amazing volcanic reserve and is 60 kilometers long with difficult terrain.
Stunning archeological sites are also on show including the fascinating caves of Mollepunko that displays rock art from over 6,000 years old, and the ruins of pre-hispanic settlements, which are on view when descending into the Colca valley.
The Colca River flows over 200km of which 60 kilometers are through the valley and can only be fully appreciated by taking an adrenalin fueled canoe ride along its length, and is considered to be one of the best river trips in the Western Hemisphere.
Other places of interest in the area are the Museo de Yanque, which is located in the village of Yanque’s old schoolhouse and provides an insight to the human and natural nature of the Colca Canyon, and the Museo Etnográfico, an anthropological museum that exhibits traditional clothing and customs of Colca living.
The area of Colca is ideal for anyone interested in trekking, photography, cycling, climbing, canoeing/rafting, bird watching and hiking. An experience not to be missed when you go to Peru.