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(South American Explorers was closed in 2017. We are not sure whether they will ever reopen.)
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.