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Colca Canyon Arequipa Peru
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Colca Canyon

The 100km-long Colca Canyon is situated between the two enormous snow-capped volcanoes of Coropuna (6613m) and Ampato (6310m). It runs from 1000m to more than 3000m in depth, making it the world’s second deepest canyon, after the nearby Cotahuasi.

At the bottom of the Colca Canyon flow the waters of the Rio Colca, cut deep into beds of mainly volcanic rock. Although the hills above are generally cool and dry, the deep valley is often sunny and warm. Cacti are dotted across the slopes, while palm trees, ferns and orchids can be found in the almost tropical depths.

Some of the finest examples of pre-Inca terracing, attributed mainly to the Huari culture (600 AD), punctuate the valley. Two distinct ethnic groups live in the peaceful, traditional villages: the Aymara-speaking Collaguas and the Quechua-speaking Cabanas. Traditionally, each community used a different technique for deforming the heads of their children. The Collaguas elongated them and the Cabanas flattened them - each trying to emulate the shape of their respective principal mountain god (apu). Nowadays the practice has disappeared. Instead, it is the shape of their hats - tall ones for the Collaguas and round flat ones for the Cabanas – as well as intricately embroidered traditional clothing, which are used to distinguish between the two groups.

The Colca Canyon is also famous for the ‘Cruz del Condor’ viewpoint located on the canyon’s highest point, offering a vista of giant Andean condors gliding effortlessly on thermal air currents rising from the canyon, swooping low over onlooker’s heads. The fascinating scene, which takes place against breath-taking scenery, is for many the highlight of the canyon.

If you want to visit the Colca Canyon, please contact us so that we can show you our various itineraries.

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