One of the best hikes in the world
- Cañón del Colca (Spanish)
- Andagua (5 day long trek)
A trip to Colca Canyon is recommended for all hikers, regardless of ability and experience. It offers superb day hiking and immensely popular 2-day trips.
Hard core hikers will love a unique 5-day option descending into the canyon then climbing up over a snowy 5100m (16,732ft) pass to the remote and rarely visited Valley of the Volcanos — weird cones & lava formations!
- canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru
- depth of 4,160m (13,650ft) more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon
- about 160km (100mi) northwest of Arequipa
- Peru’s 3rd most-visited tourist destination
- summer (November through March) is reliably dry, with sunny days and clear, cold nights
- no need to carry a tent. You can stay in quaint mountain villages, if you like.
- the 5hr road trip from Arequipa passes a vicuña reserve & crosses a 4800m pass
Why We Like This Hike
- PERU is a wonderful hiking destination
- Andean condors in the wild
- herds of vicuñas
- vibrant indigenous culture
- tourist home-stays
- Inca Ice Maiden Juanita found nearby in 1995
- no biting insects in the canyon when we were there
- visit La Calera hot springs at Chivay, en route to the trailhead
- combine this adventure with a climb of Volcano Misti near Ariquipa
- nearby Toro Muerto is cool, ancient petroglyphs in the Peruvian coastal desert
- consider extending your trip to visit Cotahuasi canyon, even deeper than Colca
- altitude sickness is by far your greatest concern
- most hikers get some symptoms above 2500m
- Cuzco is at 3326m, Arequipa 2230m. You cross a 4800m pass getting to the trailhead.
- Paso Cerani is 5100m! (15,420 ft) on the 5-day trek
- you need a lot of water
- it can be very hot and dry. We had a heat emergency on our 2-day trip after just a few hours. Only mad dogs & gringos are on the trail mid-day. Locals siesta.
- speak conversational Spanish if you want to do the trek on your own
- beware scorpions
- travel in Peru is inexpensive, but not nearly as cheap as it was in the past
- all visitors to the Colca region pay about $28 (70 soles) for a Boleto Turistico (Tourist Ticket)
- most disembark the bus at tranquil town of Cabanaconde (3290m)
- some hire guides & burros to carry gear
- most spend 2 days hiking, staying 1 night in huts at the so called Oasis, a lush green paradise at the base of the arid canyon
- normal route is to cross the deep canyon, traverse the other side via villages. Then drop down to the Oasis.
- there are many 2-3 day options, of course
- It’s quite easy if you are acclimatized. No guide needed.
If you do want to hire a guide or pack animals, we recommend you wait and do that in Cabanaconde.
You could book in Arequipa instead. In 2014 tours cost about $60 for 2 nights not including the $28 entrance fee (70 soles).
- South American Explorers Cusco is your first and best source of information
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- Lonely Planet Trekking in Peru (get the most up-to-date edition)
- Lonely Planet Trekking in the Central Andes 2003
We LOVE that 2003 guidebook. But certainly wish LP would update.
Best Travel Guidebooks
- look for those starting Arequipa. Getting a good map of the canyon has been a problem in the past
Best Web Pages
- wikitravel – Colca Canyon
- tripadvisor – Colca Canyon
- Colca Canyon & Trekking
- Rough Guides – TREKKING IN AND AROUND THE COLCA CANYON
Best Trip Reports
- Itinerant Londoner 2009
- Noel Wigdor – The grand, GRAND canyon 2006
- How To Hike Colca Canyon Without A Guide
- McCharles 2005 photos (2 days, 1 night via Tapay)
- The Hiking Life – Colca Canyon, Peru 1996
Yeti Adventure Films nailed the feel of Colca in this cute edit. 🙂
Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.