arequipa ColcaCanyon DIY Travel

Colca Canyon, Peru – What’s the Best Way to Visit?

100 miles North West of Arequipa, Peru’s “Ciudad Blanca”, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and volcanoes lies the spectacular Colca Canyon. At four,160 metres deep, it’s the second deepest canyon in the world, only surpassed by its huge, Peruvian brother, Cotahuasi.

Every thing about this place is excessive; the mountains; the altitude; the blistering warmth of the day; the chilly of the night time; the big birds; all combining to remind you just how small you really are.

For many travellers visiting Arequipa, their most important goal while staying in the city is to organise a visit to Colca Canyon. The good news for backpackers is that there is a substantial amount of flexibility for those wanting to go to this almighty canyon in addition to excursions to go well with all budgets.

Three Methods to go to Colca Canyon!

An Organised Day Tour to Colca Canyon

A standard approach to get to Colca is with an organised day tour from Arequipa, which can decide you up VERY early in the morning (2-3am) and whisk you spherical in a minibus, stopping for the photographs in any respect the greatest viewpoints, recognizing condors, loads of photograph alternatives and so on.

It’s all quite low cost too. We met several backpackers who had paid as little as 70 soles ($25 US) for a full day journey to the canyon, with the principal sites, like the condors and volcanic scorching springs included. (Not together with the 70 Soles entrance ticket). Discount!  For those who’re extra adventurous and need to start trekking by means of the canyon itself although, then be prepared to pay a bit extra…

An Organised 2 or 3 Tour to Colca Canyon

For travellers not keen on mountaineering, a full day tour is an effective choice as it is primarily a whistle-stop tour of Colca Canyon’s viewpoints. Nevertheless, the hottest and advisable method to expertise the canyon is on a 2 or 3 day trek.

The extra time permits you some quality time for mountaineering and appreciating the superb views that abound in this unimaginable panorama. The two-3 day excursions are very properly priced too. 2-Day Colca Canyon Treks often value $40-$50 US and embrace an evening staying at a primary homestay in the heart of the canyon which is a very cool expertise to be in the center of nature.

Be warned although – due to the rugged, steep nature of the canyon, the trekking could be a problem! On the first day, you will trek around 5-6 hours over undulating terrain (not so troublesome) and the following day you’ll hike 2-hours instantly up a mountain (to get out of the canyon) before you’ve earned your breakfast! Three day treks are a bit more easy-going.

There are additionally quite a lot of special treks obtainable which take you by way of various mountaineering routes or embrace horse driving, visiting waterfalls or even locating the supply of the Amazon River!

Visiting Colca Canyon Independently

Despite the obvious value for cash provided by the numerous tour corporations, typically you simply need a bit extra freedom. Despite the fact that there’s no vital saving, you need to really feel such as you’re doing things by yourself phrases and never simply being herded around like obedient overseas sheep! In case you’re on the lookout for a method to travel to Colca Canyon from Arequipa, independently (kind of) you’re going to have to travel by way of the town of Chivay. For extra info, learn our article – A DIY Trip to Chivay and the Colca Canyon.

Entrance charge to visit Colca Canyon

There’s a compulsory entrance charge of 70 soles per individual (for foreigners) to enter Colca Canyon (Approx. $20 US per individual.) This isn’t often included in the worth of excursions and is paid for individually upon arrival at the village of Yanque which is the gateway to the canyon. The ticket consists of access to the Colca Canyon space together with La Calera Thermal Baths, as well as the towns of Tapay, Cabanaconde and Chivay.

What you need to deliver on a Colca Canyon journey?

Initially, permit yourself a few days to acclimatise in Arequipa.

  • As Colca Canyon is situated high in the mountains, you’ll need to keep in mind that the climate modifications shortly. Wear layers to hold warm and keep in mind a rain jacket in case of a downpour.
  • Suncream and a hat are additionally advisable owing to the fluctuating temperature.
  • Trekking boots are a must in case you are doing a climbing centred tour, nevertheless, for these of you on a someday tour, any sort of sturdy footwear will probably be advantageous.
  • In case you are going to enter the scorching springs, don’t overlook to deliver swimwear.
  • Finally, be sure your digital camera or telephone is absolutely charged so you gained’t miss snapping a shot of the almighty Condor!

The climate can change very quickly at Colca Canyon so come ready!

The Best 1 or 2-Day Tours to Colca Canyon

As we have been in need of time in the city, we headed out on a full day tour to Colca Canyon. We organized our trip to Colca Canyon with the firm, Arequipa Tour, who have been wonderful from the start! Prior to our departure date, we were given our full day itinerary and knowledgeable about the pick-up.

Arequipa Tour also run quite a lot of multi-day (2 or Three day) mountaineering excursions to Colca Canyon, which we’ve heard great things about. Relying on how much time you have got, you might want to take a look at their numerous options.

Full Day Tour to Colca Canyon with Arequipa Tour

As Colca Canyon is situated around an extended drive from Arequipa, we might be leaving at the incredibly early time of two.45 am to get the most out of the day. (Decide-up out of your hostel is included in case you are staying in the downtown space at no additional value, which is a aid considering the early start time!)

We have been picked up promptly at 2.45 am and piled onto our minibus. From there, we collected the other passengers from their respective hostels and lodges round the metropolis. In complete, there have been 14 of us in the group.

Snowy scenery from a car windscreen It was a chilly and early begin to the day!

After we all boarded the minibus, our guide Maria launched herself and the driver. She did this first in Spanish and then in English for these of us whose Spanish still wants slightly work! After she outlined the day’s itinerary, she bade us all goodnight and informed us she would wake us for the first stop. Gratefully, we all sunk into the land of nod for a couple extra hours.

After a couple of hours, I woke to Maria saying that we might shortly be stopping at a viewpoint high in the mountains. We departed the minibus and I was amazed to see that the ground was coated in snow!

We took in the views of the volcanoes in front of us and tried to heat up. I hadn’t prepared for this type of climate in Peru! After a few minutes to take footage and admire the view, we headed again to the minibus which might be taking us to our breakfast spot.

Snowy volcano near Colca Canyon, PeruA chilly but impressive sight to wake up to!

We arrived in the village of Yanque and Maria gathered cash for our canyon entrance tickets (not included in the tour worth). Foreigners pay 70 soles per individual to enter Colca Canyon.

A Veritable Breakfast Feast!

After the tickets had been purchased, we made our means into the restaurant. Breakfast was a veritable feast, with every part from juice, espresso, fruit, yoghurt, cheese, ham and bread! Eggs might be added for an extra 2 soles and there was even coca tea obtainable for these suffering from the results of the altitude.

After we had stuffed ourselves full, we headed into the town. The locals have been out in drive, selling handmade clothing and approaching vacationers for alpaca pictures. As anyone who loves llamas and alpacas, I simply couldn’t resist!

People and alpacas in Yanque, close to Colca CanyonHanging out with the alpacas in Yanque was fun!

The Cross of the Condor Mirador

After breakfast, Maria informed us we might be making our approach to The Cross of the Condor Mirador. This viewpoint provides approach to some spectacular views of the Canyon and in addition increases visitor probabilities of seeing the mighty Condor fly over the landscape. The journey was meant to be one other hour and a half but after only 45 minutes of travel, our van pulled over.

Maria gleefully introduced to the passengers that there were quite a few Condors on a close-by cliff and that we might be stopping here to see them.

The Andean Condor is the second largest flying hen in the world and considering their measurement, they aren’t the best hen to spot of their pure setting. It’s because they’re an endangered species, with fewer than 1500 left in the wild. As we tiptoed out of the minibus, not wanting to disturb them, we have been greeted by no fewer than five Condors!

Condors at Colca Canyon, PeruWe have been very lucky to see so many Condors in the rainy season!

We spent a very good whereas wanting up at them in awe and prepared them to take flight. After around twenty minutes, they did simply that and it was a very spectacular sight. Not having something left to marvel at, we continued on to The Cross of the Condor viewpoint.

Maria informed us that we might only be spending around 40 minutes here owing to the sudden stop earlier. This wasn’t a problem for anybody though as we have been all feeling very fortunate and privileged to have seen the Condors earlier in the day.

Throughout the wet season (which it was at the time of our go to) it is a lot more durable to see the Condor. That is partly as a result of they are so giant and heavy, they wrestle to fly when moist.

After arriving at The Cross, we took in the sights of Colca Canyon in all its glory. It’s a really beautiful landscape which beggars belief. As I sat wanting over the gaping valley in front of me, I all of the sudden felt very small.

Colca Canyon in PeruThe almighty Colca Canyon has a approach of creating you are feeling very small!

The Calera Thermal Baths (Scorching Springs)

Sadly, as we on a day trip only, the time quickly rolled around for us to head back to the bus. We had a selection of activities for the subsequent a part of the day. There was the adventurous choice of a zip-lining expertise by way of the Canyon or alternatively a visit to the pure scorching springs, generally known as the Calera Thermal Baths in the city of Chivay. The overwhelming majority of individuals opted for the scorching springs and we stayed at this location for around an hour, to give the driver a chance to compensate for sleep.

Feeling refreshed however hungry, we emerged from the scorching springs and obtained back into the minibus for our food stop. Lunch was a buffet, filled with conventional Peruvian cuisine. There was loads of selection which made it an incredible choice for vegetarians and vegans too.

The river close to the natural hot springs on the Colca Canyon day trip with Arequipa TourIt was the good day for a dip in the scorching springs!

All of the food was scrumptious and I am not ashamed to admit that I went up for second helpings. After I had managed to cram in a last dessert, we have been promptly herded back to the bus… a storm was on the horizon.

The Lengthy Way Back to Arequipa

Our itinerary had dictated that the journey again to Arequipa can be damaged up by a stop at a Natural Reserve, house to a large population of Vicuñas (a mammal comparable to alpacas and llamas). Nevertheless, as we made our means up and back by way of the mountains, it turned obvious that this is probably not potential.

As we reached the highest point in the mountains, the clouds drew in and the storm really began to get fierce. The mist was shrouding any of the views and it shortly turned inconceivable to see more than a metre in entrance of the windscreen. Fortunately, we had a really succesful driver because I wouldn’t have needed just anyone transporting me about in that weather!

Couple at Colca Canyon, PeruLuckily the climate held out for the majority of our visit!

The mist and sleet meant that it took almost treble the time to cross by means of the mountains and there was little improvement as soon as we started to descend. With the rain still hammering down, and not a Vicuña in sight, we headed back to Arequipa, slowly but safely.

A Day Properly Spent!

I had a great time visiting Colca Canyon with Arequipa Tour. Our information Maria was enthusiastic and professional from the begin of the day till the very finish. Thanks to her keen images expertise, we have been in a position to get some nice footage in and around the Canyon too!

Though I might recommend that a two or three-day trekking experience would permit you to absolutely expertise the Canyon, the full day journey is a superb choice when you have restricted time. The lengthy journey means a really early morning however Arequipa Tour took care of all of our wants and made our go to to Colca a simple and worthwhile trip.

The Cross of the Condor viewpoint at Colca Canyon, PeruThe Cross of the Condor viewpoint, Colca Canyon.

The food offered was great and there were options to go well with all dietary necessities. I additionally enjoyed how visitors can customise the tour to their own pursuits, both with a break in the scorching springs or one thing more adrenaline pinching with the zip line.

Though a Colca Canyon Day Journey is a very long day which starts early, I might urge everyone to schedule this natural marvel into their Peru itinerary, regardless of what number of days you will have in your Peru itinerary!

The landscape of the canyon is actually breathtaking and the native communities are intriguing in their very own proper. The majestic flight of the Condor is one thing that has to be experienced first hand and sadly, the alternative to see this in individual might not all the time be there!

Presently backpacking Peru? Take a look at our destination information to Arequipa here and skim more in our comprehensive journey guide to Peru!

Sheree Hooker Bio Pic

Sheree is the awkward British wanderluster behind, a travel weblog designed to present that even the most useless of us can travel. Comply with Sheree’s adventures as she blunders round the globe, falling into squat bogs, moving into automobiles with machete males and operating away from indignant peacocks.

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