About Canon del Colca (Colca Canyon)
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Beyond Cabanaconde, there are several small villages in the canyon with basic accommodations. The people that live in the canyon are known for their traditional embroidered clothing, especially those worn by their women. There are several hiking trails in the area, including one that leads to a geothermal area where a continuously erupting geyser shoots a jet of steam some 15-30 meters up into the air.
There are also some extensive Inca and pre-Inca agricultural terraces in the upper stretches of the canyon.
While single-day and multiple day tours of the Colca Canyon are available out of Arequipa, it is very easy for visitors to organize their own lodging and tour the canyon on their own.
This canyon is located about 60 kilometers west of Chivay (total of over 200 kilometers by road from Arequipa). Most tours into the canyon are operated out of Arequipa, providing transport by bus to and from the canyon.
First To Review: Claudia R.
Oct 17, 2008
The main town of Chivay was a 5+ hr bus ride from Arequipa over a 14,000 ft pass, only partially paved. We stopped at a store on the edge of Arequipa to buy coca leaves; the locals chew these with lye to help stave off the effects of altitude sickness. We definitely started feeling the effects of altitude here, I ended up with a splitting headache. The coca leaves didn't help at all; in fact I've never tasted anything quite so nasty in my life! Though maybe that's the point; the nastiness distracts you from your other ailments. Coca tea brewed from the leaves is much better, especially once you add sugar. Just make sure you don't have to take a drug test anytime soon! Aspirin also worked for me for the headache, but really all you can do is take it easy for a few days. The drive over the pass was stunning, with wide vistas of the treeless altiplano, salt pans, and grazing herds of alpaca and llama. We arrived at Chivay in time for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we heard the sound of a brass band coming from down the street, and wandered down to investigate. It turned out to be a wedding! All the locals were out in their colorful finest, and much pisco and chicha (the local corn beer) was being consumed. We were invited to join in the dancing and drinking, but unfortunately we had to get back to the bus. We were dropped off at the hotel, the Pozo del Cielo, overlooking the town of Chivay. The hotel had a great view, but wasn't very convenient for the rest of town. It is possible to walk to the center of town, but the way back is all uphill. We had about 20 minutes to get ready before heading to the local hot springs. The springs were very nicely done, with a large clean thermal swimming pool. That evening, we attended a local dinner/dance show. The dancers invited diners out onto the dance floor for the very energetic dances, I gave it a go for a few minutes until I felt dizzy and out of breath. The band was traditional Peruvian music, with several panflutes of varying size (I was already sick of Flight of the Condor, mind you).
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Mar 31, 2010
The 100km-long Cañón del Colca is set among high volcanoes (6613m-high Coropuna and 6310m-high Ampato are the tallest) and ranges from 1000m to more than 3000m in depth. For years there was raging controversy over whether or not this was the world’s deepest canyon at 3191m, but recently it ranked a close second to neighboring Cañón del Cotahuasi, which is just over 150m deeper. Amazingly, both canyons are more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA.
Despite its depth, the Cañón del Colca is geologically young. The Río Colca has cut into beds of mainly volcanic rocks, which were deposited less than 100 million years ago along the line of a major fault in the earth’s crust. The climate is cool and dry on the plateau and slopes high above the Río Colca. However, the deep valley and generally sunny weather produce frequent updrafts, especially along the canyon’s southern edge between Maca and Cabanaconde, and soaring condors can often be seen at close range. Viscachas (burrowing rodents closely related to chinchillas) are also common around the canyon rim, darting furtively among the rocks. Cacti dot many slopes and, if they’re in flower, you may be lucky enough to see tiny nectar-eating birds braving the spines to feed. In the depths of the canyon it can be almost tropical, with palm trees, ferns and even orchids in some isolated areas.
Sep 26, 2009
We are back safe and sound from our trip to Arequipa and the Colca Canyon. I wanted to tell you what a wonderful travel agency and guide we´ve found for us. They were PERFECT! They took very good care of us - especially after I got sick while hiking out of the canyon! That was a rough day for me. The rest of the trip was great! Leslie (our guide) is a really nice person, too, and I think the agency and she make a great guide. Thanks for everything Inka Fest and Lesli, it was a great trip!