The Colca Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru. Located to the northeast of Arequipa in the province of Caylloma, its name comes from the words collaguas and cabanas, two tribes still inhabiting the Colca River. The canyon has a depth of 4,160 meters, making it the second deepest canyon in the world.
Despite its popularity, there are still many unveiled mysteries to be discovered in the Colca Canyon. Here are some things you need to know before setting off on your Colca Canyon Trek.
The Hidden Natural Viewpoint of Chivay
On the road between Arequipa and the Colca Valley there is a small village called Chivay. Here, there’s a natural viewpoint where you can watch condors in flight in their natural environment. There’s also an exceptional panoramic view of the Coropuna Volcano and Ampato Hill.
The Colca Canyon isn’t the only draw to the area. Here are some of the other attractions worth visiting before or after your Colca Canyon Trek.
Cruz del Condor Viewpoint
This natural viewpoint provides an excellent view of the sheer depth of the canyon, its vegetation, and of course, the flight of the condors, a representative bird of the region. The viewpoint is located at 3,287 meters above sea level. It’s a must-visit destination before your trek in the Colca Canyon. For the best chances of spotting the condors in flight, be at the viewpoint during the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
The Colca Window
A natural geological formation, the Colca Window perfectly frames the road into the Colca Valley and the confluence of the La Pulpera and Colca Rivers. This formation is located at an elevation of 4,300 meters above sea level. It’s an especially attractive destination for adventure travelers looking for natural attractions around their trek in the Colca Canyon.
Canoeing the Colca River
If you’ll be traveling during the months of December through March, this is a must-do activity for the adventure-loving tourist. It offers an unforgettable experience on the river at a time when the rapids are fierce and challenging.
The Colca Canyon’s Increasing Popularity
In recent years the Colca Canyon and its valley have become an increasingly more popular tourist attraction. With popular publications like National Geographic and some of Mario Vargas Llosa’s books describing the canyon as a “hidden paradise of the Incas”, more and more tourists are being inspired to visit the canyon. Since 2013, approximately 7,000 tourists visit the site each year.
The Colca Canyon and Valley is a fascinating tourist destination, especially for adventure travelers. You can trek the Colca Canyon or visit its many nearby natural attractions. For the best experience, visit the valley when the rivers are at their fullest, from December to March.