The Colca Canyon
Most people who visit Arequipa take a tour out to the Cañon de Colca, one of the worlds deepest canyons formed by an enormous seismic fault between the Coropuna (6425m) and Ampato (6325m) volcanoes. (actually the worlds deepest canyon is the nearby Cotahuasi Canyon). The tour can be arranged on arrival in Arequipa with one of the several tour operators or travel agents around the Plaza. Many hotels can also arrange this activity. Although a tour can be fit into one day, it's best to go for at least 2 days, staying the night at the village of Chivay (3633m) the first village on the edge of the canyon.
Remember to bring a swimming costume and towel for a visit to the thermal springs on the outskirts of Chivay. (Open 0600 - 1900. Entrance $1.50)
Beautiful unspoiled Andean villages line both sides of the canyon. In addition you'll have great views of the smoking Sabancaya volcano, one of the America's most active volcanoes, as well seeing the many traditional pre-Inca agricultural terraces which line the steep valley sides.
The high point of the tour is an early morning visit to La Cruz del Condor (3320m), a 1.5 hours drive from Chivay. From this natural observatory you can see into the deepest part of the canyon, and witness the majestic flight of the Andean Condor, rising on the morning thermals (at around 9am.)
Typical Colca Canyon 2-day tour as offered by numerous agencies in Arequipa
(the information shown below was taken from the Colca Trek Adventure Tours website)
Day 1: We start from Arequipa at 08:00, we pick you up at your hotel, in our private transport, after 2 hours we visit the Vicugna National Reservation (Salinas y Aguada Blanca), Then we stop in Patahuasi were we can appreciate interesting geological formations, here we have to drink a mate the coca to avoid altitude sickness, them we arrive at 4,900m from where we can appreciate the view of all the volcanoes from the area like Misti, Chachani and Ampato (the mountain were they found the Inca mummy), also we can see mountains like Sabancaya, Walka Walka and Mismi (in this mountain is located the source of the Amazon river). We continue in our transport and we arrive at 13:30 to Chivay the capital of Colca / Caylloma region, here we have lunch in a traditional restaurant, then we have a little nice Colca trek of 30 minutes and after that, we visit the Calera hot springs, very hot and clean swimming pools (the best hot springs in Peru), them we go to our hotel in Chivay.
Day 2: We have breakfast at 6:00 hours and then we go to Cruz del Condor in our transport, in the way we stop to take pictures of the villages at the other side of the canyon like Coporaque, Ichupampa and Lari, then we arrive to Cruz del Condor view point, here we can appreciate the
canyon and the impressive condors flying after this we return to Chivay to have lunch visiting interesting villages like Pinchollo and Maca and other places, and after lunch in Chivay, we return to Arequipa arriving at 17:00 hours.
This tour includes:
Professional English speaking guide
01 night in the hotel
Entrance to Cruz Del Condor Viewpoint.
This price does not include:
Thermal baths (La Calera) hot spring.
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