Colca Canyon is a must see for any traveller in the Arequipa region of Peru. It’s not quite near Arequipa, but it was the best embarkment point for the trek. To give you a little lesson in geography, Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world at 3270 metres deep. It’s deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona and reaches an altitude of 6288 metres high.
Travellers wanting to visit Colca Canyon have two options. The first is a visit to the Mirador Cruz Del Condor lookout point where there is a high likely hood of seeing condors. You’ll drive around and visit some other viewpoints and then head back to Arequipa. The second option is a two day trek of the canyon which includes all meals except for lunch on the second day as well as an overnight stay at a rustic lodge deep in the canyon.
Colca Canyon Trek:
Mike & I figured we might never be back at Colca Canyon so we might as well experience the hike! Those of us from LBW who opted for the trek were picked up from the Los Andes hostel in Arequipa at 3:30am. It was so early! Luckily we were able to sleep on the bus for about four hours before the tour bus stopped in Chivay for breakfast.
I must be extremely Westernized because I expected some sort of breakfast buffet with eggs, toast, and hash browns or something like that. Instead we were fed a basket of bread with jam. The bread was hollow, so it really wasn’t all that filling. We all assumed the bread was an appetizer, and after about fifteen minutes we asked when the rest of the food was coming and the staff looked at us like we were crazy! They told us we could buy eggs for an additional price. The running joke with our tour bus was to always question exactly what is included when you are told meals and lodging are included. There was also warm, thick quinoa juice.
After a disappointing breakfast we hopped back on the bus and were taken to the Mirador Cruz Del Condor viewpoint. There’s no guarantee that travellers will see condors flying in the canyon, them being wild animals and all, but fortunately we saw three! They were distant but we were very much in awe watching them glide through the canyon. The viewpoint was packed with tourists wanting photos of the condors.
An hour passed and we hopped back on the bus. We drove for a short time through the valley and high up to our starting point for the hike where we met Frank, our guide for the next two days.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of the hike itself. The side of the mountain had no rails like many mountain paths do in Canada and the drop off the side was steep. At one point I tried to get a picture of a random puppy on the first stretch down the mountain and I tripped and ripped the knees of my jeans. That’s when I decided No More Pictures!
It was a smart decision, the first 5km was a steep downhill decline and I had to watch my feet closely to avoid stumbling. We breezed past most of our LBW friends and arrived at the bridge that was out first resting point twenty minutes early. Afterwards it was another 2km to lunch.