For adventure-seekers who want an experiential vacation that tests body, mind, and spirit, Colca Canyon is a prime destination.
In southern Peru, located northwest of Arequipa, there is a canyon; it is not simply a “canyon”, however, it is the Colca Canyon, which is over two times as deep as the infamous Grand Canyon, giving it the title of being the deepest canyon worldwide. With more than 100,000 visitors each year, it has become a hot spot for hiking tours and sightseeing.
More than a cliff …
One might wonder what all the fascination is for this valley carved between two cliff-faces, but the Colca Canyon has many amazing features.
- If you enter Chivay, you can see the La Calera hot springs, which were created by nature, as opposed to some of the other hot springs around the area that were man-made.
- The Andean Condors make their home in the canyon, and can be seen in all their glory as they glide through the valley and across the canyon walls. The condors have become such a popular tourist attraction that the Cruz del Condor was named for the simple act of watching them. Of course, there are other bird species as well, such as the giant hummingbird, caracaras, Andean goose, and even flamingoes.
- Other animal species that can be spotted in the area are deer, fox, chinchillas, viscacha, and the hog-nosed skunk (keep your distance!).
- If you enjoy spelunking, you’ll want to visit the Mollepunko caves where ancient scawlings tell a story on the cave walls … don’t be alarmed if you happen to trip over some bones on the way.
Just standing atop the cliffs overlooking the valley can make one feel significantly small as you take in the breathaking landscapes and wildlife that exist in the Colca Canyon. The journey is not an easy one – the hike can take many long hours of trekking over rock, through lush vegetation and across the snow-cap fed Amazon river. It is advisable to have a guide, as being lost in the Colca Canyon is an ever-present danger, but your guide can also share some insight and knowledge into the many amazing things you’ll see.