Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon, located approximately 100 miles northwest of Arequipa, is one of the deepest chasms in the world.

At some points, Colca’s sloping walls drop for over two miles. The surrounding landscape is dominated by the snowy peaks of the Cordillera Chila.

Mount Hualca Hualca, Sabancaya, and the 20,630-foot Ampato volcano feed the Colca, the river that carved this enormous canyon.

Colca has been inhabited for thousands of years; Inca and pre-Inca sites are found at Jusacallacta, Pumunuta, Uyo Uyo and Tupay.

Today, the Colca settlements include more than a dozen 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.

Coporaque, Ichupampa, and Yanque

In the valley’s east, Coporaque, Ichupampa, and Yanque are home to indigenous communities, dutifully maintaining their traditions and cultivating the terraced hillsides.

Colca Canyon Historic White church with twin bell towers and Spanish Architecture

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 feature remarkable terraces, constructed by Inca and pre-Inca cultures.

Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Hot Springs and Fly Fishing

An excellent way to see the canyon is on horseback. Trekking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and day-trips to hot springs and geysers are also available.

For many visitors, the highlight of this destination is a morning excursion to the Condor’s Cross, one of the highest points in the canyon.

Andean Condors, some with wingspans in excess of ten feet, ride thermal currents near this observation point.

Colca Canyon Climate

Several hotels and lodges are perched 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. During the rainy season, (November to March), cloud cover is often present.

Aerial photo of Colca Canyon in Peru

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