Colca Canyon

Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Peru, Play-by-plays, South America | 0 comments

Colca Canyon, at 3191 meters deep, was once considered the deepest canyon in the world. Recently, however, that honor was bestowed upon the nearby Cotahuasi Canyon, which is 150 meters deeper. Either way, Colca is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the States, so we obviously had to trek it.

The typical tour is 2 or 3 days (we did 2day for 115sol with PeruAndes), with overnight stays in the bottom at a little village and/or the Oasis which you can spot from the rim of the canyon due to its bright blue pools.

The pick up from our hostel was at 3am, so everyone on the bus was passed out until breakfast. Next was a stop at Cruce de Condor, where the Andean condors are supposed to fly, but we didn’t manage to spot any. At 9am or so we finally got to the hiking starting point and set off downhill. The first day is essentially all downhill into the canyon, with a stop for lunch, another hike until the Oasis, dinner, and lights out. One cool thing, besides the spectacular views, was the halo effect around the sun, which apparently means rain is coming (true story).

The next morning we got up around 5 to start hiking before the sweltering sun burned us. There isn’t much shade in the Canyon, so the early start is important. Also some people take up to 4 hours to hike up the 1000m to the top of the canyon, so that’s another reason for an early start. You can also hire a donkey to ride up. The tough part isn’t necessarily the uphill hike as it is the rising altitude as you hike more, since you’re getting up to over 3000m elevation when you finish. Tiredness + thin air= fun!

I hiked up with a couple Aussies who were on tour with us, and we waited for everyone at the top. We then headed to breakfast in the nearby village and had a few more stops on the 5hr drive back to Arequipa (optional hot springs,buffet lunch, and highest drivable point nearby at almost 5k meters. If it weren’t for the fog clouds rain etc, we would have been able to see the neighboring volcanos from the mirador, but instead we just played in the snow, which was strange after the nearly tropical climate of the Oasis at the bottom of the canyon. Altitude is the real deal.

After our return to Arequipa, we finally made further plans and booked our stay at Lake Titicaca for the next couple days.

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