“I wanna go back.”, this was my immediate thought when I got back to Arequipa. The Colca Canyon is a perfect creation of mother nature. Thank you, dear lady! Maybe you are considering to visit one of the world’s deepest canyon, but you are not sure if it’s worth your time. I am sure these photos will convince you that that the Colca Canyon is worth visiting and here they come.
1. It’s fucking beautiful!
Pardon my English here. Maybe Spanish sounds better: “El Canon del Colca es muy bonito!” Well, I just don’t know many words or swear words yet. Anyways, it’s that simple! Colca Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Especially in the rainy season, the mountains and fields are lush green, and clouds are hanging in the canyon. A really photogenic place! Hiking into the canyon will offer you more and more stunning views. I had to stop quite often, just to soak in the views and, of course, to take photos.
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2. It is one of the deepest canyons in the world (not the deepest anymore)
A lot of websites say that Colca Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world. With approximately 11,100ft (3400m), it is “just” one of the deepest canyons in the world. It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, though. New measurements have proven that Cotahuasi Canyon is even deeper. Still, Colca Canyon is worth visiting because of its depth. Once you stand at Mirador Achachihua, you will believe me and understand my love for this place!
3. You can spot Andean Condors
The Andean Condors are the largest raptors in the world. With a wingspan of 10 feet, they like to glide through the canyon. You can either see them at Cruz del Condor, Mirador Tapay or on the trails. We got to see a couple flying over our heads when we hiked from Cabanaconde to Llahuar. It was an awesome bonus!
4. You can go on trekking trips
If you love trekking, Valle del Canyon is worth visiting. The shortest trek would be 2 days (1 day down, 1 day up). However, you can spend as many days as you want. There are great options for trekking junkies. Most common is the 3-day trek from Cabanaconde to Sangalle to Llahuar and back to Cabanaconde.
5. You may find a new four-legged buddy
On your trek, you will most likely find a little fellah, who would follow you all the way. This didn’t only happen to us but to many other hikers. We called our dog Simba because he liked to stand on rocks like the lion king.
6. You can go on short hikes
If you are short on time or don’t want to carry your stuff on the back, you can do some short hikes from Cabanaconde. You can either visit all the viewpoints or hike to the Kallimarka Ruins (3h). If you go to Mirador Achachihua, make sure you walk a little further on the trail to Llahuar. There are stunning views within 10-20min from the viewpoint.
7. Great for self-guided trips
Whatever you plan on doing, keep in mind that you don’t need a tour guide or company like for Machu Picchu or other sights. You can get to Chivay or Cabanaconde with the local bus and hike/trek on your own.
8. Not as restricted & popular as Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu gets a lot of visitors every year and it is the right choice to restrict tourism to preserve this historical site. The popularity, however, is a little bit of disappointing at the same time. Just think about it: The day you will experience Machu Picchu, which has been on your bucket list for years, you will much likely share this with 2500 other visitors. The Colca Canyon, on the other hand, has averagely 330 daily visitors. Which one sounds calmer and more relaxing?
9. You can experience Peru’s culture
The small villages are still very traditional – that’s at least what I experienced. People in traditional dresses danced at the main square when we arrived in Cabanaconde. It was also carnival season, but I believe you can get to know the culture better if you stay in smaller villages like this one.
10. The tranquility and pure nature inside the Colca Canyon is worth visiting
Last but not least, you will find yourself in a very tranquil environment. Especially if you trek into the valley, you will be disconnected from the internet and modern life. The beauty of the landscape and nothing else than mountains and the roaring rivers – huuuhhh, I wanna go back!