An extended stay at the Colca Canyon was part of my tour’s itinerary. Later I found out that people had chosen this tour specifically for this reason. I didn’t even think about this fact when booking the trip. I hadn’t really considered the Colca Canyon at all, apart from wanting to see the famous andean condors there. I found out that Colca Canyon is actually a really gorgeous place in its own right, and it deserves at least a three day visit.
Arequipa to Colca Canyon
The Canyon itself is very a spectacular sight. However, try not to sleep on the way there because the views can sometimes equal the views at the canyon. I drove from Arequipa to Colca Canyon which took me past a lot of flat areas with alpacas and vicuñas. The latter is a relative of the llama, and is now believed to be the wild ancestor of domesticated alpacas.
It takes an expert bus driver to spot these animals in the stretched-out landscape. Luckily, ours was very good and he took the time to randomly feed a baby goat.
We also stopped a few time to enjoy the immense mountain ranges. It’s hard to imagine you’re already at 3,500m height when mountains tower around you like that.
I have to admit, even though the height didn’t really affect me much during the whole trip. I was still dizzy on my way to Colca Canyon. Arequipa to the canyon has some literal high points around 4,000m.
The towns around the canyons are lower so they’re great for acclimatization.
My first stop in the Colca Canyon was Cabanaconde. This is a very tiny town with a nice hotel, and a great starting point for hikes.
Morning: Cruz del Condor
As I already wrote in my previous post, we started the day looking at condors at the Cruz del Condor. I have already dedicated an entire post to this subject so I won’t go into much detail, but you can’t visit the canyon without at least trying to see the condors.
Afternoon: Hike to Cabanaconde
The second part of the day was a quite strenuous hike back to Cabanaconde. This hike had two parts, one was mostly uphill. This part included a treacherous climb and steep dropoffs. This hike isn’t for the faint of heart.
I had to climb over a few boulders as well, while the depths of death were staring me right in the face. I didn’t like it, but I survived. That having been said the walk itself was beautiful.
The second part of the hike was mostly downhill, which is something I like even less. I’m so incredibly clumsy and I kept tripping over loose stones & slipping down boulders. I really have to become more steady on my feet when I ever plan to do more lengthy hikes. This time around the landscape was mostly fields filled with cattle.
The total hike was 2.5 hours and spanned 8.5 km.
Hike Yanque to Coporaque
We started the day driving from Cabanaconde to Maca. Here we had some time to shop. I don’t know what it is about Peru, but I couldn’t help shopping at all the colourful little stands. I went home with so much more stuff than I would usually bring home!
Then we arrived in Yanque for our daunting hike to Coporaque. It may seem like less than the day before, this time we hiked 2 hours and 7km, but it was so much tougher. There weren’t any weird stretches of road, everything was pretty straightforward without any steep inclines and declines apart from one.
It was tough, but the views were so rewarding. If you’re planning to do a hike in the area you should really tackle the one from Yanque to Coporaque. The views towards the volcanoes alone are enough to get your heart pumping.
The fact that there is a warm water bath nearby is even better. I really deserved the dip inside.
That evening we stayed in Chivay. If you don’t like lonely and tiny towns, you’re better off staying here than in Cabanaconde. I liked both places, but I like the fact that Cabanaconde takes you farther into the canyon.
Chivay is known for its dancing in the evenings, needless to say after two days of hiking I wasn’t interested in any of that!
Hotel Cabanaconde: Hotel Kuntur Wasi
Hotel Chivay: Pozo del Cielo
How to get to Colca Canyon: You can take a bus which stops at the villages or you could book a tour
The Colca Canyon is a beautiful and diverse landscape. Hiking isn’t the only activity you can undertake here. Try white water rafting (but be aware of the risk), mountain biking, or horse back riding. When you leave Lima and travel towards Puno and Cusco, you’ll find the landscape only gets more and more beautiful.
My next post will be about the sights surrounding Puno. Most people will know Puno for its vicinity to Lake Titicaca, but that’s not all there is to see there.