Colca Canyon (Colca Valley)
The Colca Canyon (map) is a canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru, located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) northwest of *Arequipa (map). With a depth of about 4,160 m (13,640 ft), it is one of the deepest canyons in the world. Its length is about 70 kilometres (43 mi).
The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca rooted inhabitants, and towns founded in Spanish colonial times, still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures. In the caves found in the Colca Valley you can find paintings and carvings that date back more than 7,000 years.
The canyon is home to the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), a species that has been the focus of worldwide conservation efforts. The condors can be seen at close range as they fly past the canyon walls, and are a popular attraction.
+ More information > Wikipedia • Wikivoyage • UNESCO
Tourists generally arrive in Chivay, a nice and very friendly town at the beginning of the canyon, with plenty of hotels and hostels, and restaurants–as well as La Calera hot springs. Chivay is a good place to look for high-quality, locally-produced crafts, in particular goods hand-knitted from 100% alpaca fiber, and elaborately embroidered goods produced by hand on sewing machines (hats, coin purses, belts, etc.)
Archeological sites include the Caves of Mollepunko (map) above Callalli where rock art (said to be 6,000 years old) depicts the domestication of the alpaca; the Mummy of Paraqra, above Sibayo; the Fortaleza de Chimpa, a reconstructed mountaintop citadel that looks down on Madrigal; ruins of pre-Hispanic settlements throughout the valley; and many others.
Cultural attractions include the Wititi festival in Chivay, named as a “cultural heritage” of Peru. The Colca is also well known for crafts: goods knitted from baby alpaca fiber and a unique form of embroidery that adorns skirts (polleras), hats, vests, and other items of daily wear and use.
Cruz Del Condor (map). The most popular spot for viewing condors. The best time for condor sighting is in the morning, between 07:00 and 09:00. If you arrive at 07:00 you have about an hour of solitude before the package tours arrive around 08:00.
Public buses departing approximately every 1.5 hours service the length of the canyon from *Chivay (map) to Cabanaconde (map), stopping at the major towns along the way (2-2.5 hr, S/5 in 2019). Collectivos may offer more frequent departures to less popular destinations.
BUS > Peru Hop • Expreso Bolivariano • Civa/Excluciva • Cruz del Sur • Rapidos de Chile, Andesmar • Expreso Internacional Ormeño
RAIL > Ferrocarril Central de Andino (FCCA) is the second highest railway in the world and the Highest in South America, connecting Lima to Huancayo.
AIRPORTS > The capital city of Lima has Jorge Chávez International Airport with frequent flights to/from all over the world.