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Condors & Hot Springs

Named after the ancient storehouses that dot the terraced river valley, the Colca Canyon has been inhabited for thousands of years. It is famously twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, reaching depths of 11,150 ft (3,400 m). Plummeting valley views, volcanic peaks, soaring condors, grazing vicunas, and hot springs await those who venture here.

The Colca Canyon appeals to travelers in search of Peru’s timeless natural landscapes. Make your journey here even more incredible by booking a stay at the gorgeous Belmond Las Casitas or the Colca Lodge.

  • Elevation From 10,950 ft (3,340 m) at Yanque to 15,685 ft (4,870 m) at Mirador de los Andes on the route between Arequipa and Colca.
  • Temperature Highs: 66 to 70°F (19 to 21°C)
    Nighttime: 46 to 54°F (8 to 12°C)
  • Dry Season From May to November
    Coinciding with the southern hemisphere’s summer season, the dry season brings abundant sunshine during the day and freezing temperatures at night.
  • Wet Season From January to March
    Rain is almost guaranteed, but not constant. The Colca terraces are at their most lush and green at the end of the wet season in April and May.
Visit the hub of the Colca Canyon. Chivay sits on the banks of the Colca River with views to snowcapped peaks and terraced hillsides.
Admire the baroque mestizo architecture and bas relief carving of Yanque town’s principal church.
Hike to the Uyo Uyo archaeological site, first used by the Collaguas and later by the Incas. 2-3 hour loop from Yanque.
Walk from Cabanaconde town down a zigzagging path to the oasis town of Sangalle on the banks of the Colca Canyon.
As you visit different towns, meet people from the Colca Canyon’s two major ethnic groups. The Collagua and the Cabana can be distinguished by their hat wear.
Marvel at the endless terraces of the Colca Valley, which are both older and more extensive than the ones you’ll see around Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Join the crowd of awed onlookers at the Cruz del Condor viewing platform to watch the Andean condor spread its wings and soar over the canyon.
Take a luxury train journey across the Andes. The new Belmond Andean Explorer route traverses the southern Andes on 2- to 3-day itineraries.
Enjoy an utterly relaxing stay at a deluxe resort such as Casitas del Colca or Colca Lodge. Both feature extensive gardens, on-site hot springs, full-service spas, and more.
Get out and explore the majestic Colca landscape. Take your pick of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and rafting.
Take a dip in one of the numerous thermal springs that dot the Colca Valley, a product of underground volcanic activity.
Stay on the lookout for the unusual fauna that inhabit the canyon, from Andean condors and giant hummingbirds to vicuñas, guanacos, and vizcachas.

Choices for dining in the Colca Canyon are limited, but more than adequate for a few nights. Most Colca Canyon lodges offer on-site restaurants serving a la carte or buffet style meals. Towns such as Chivay and Yanque offer a greater selection.

Q’anka Restaurant
Specializes in steaks and pizzas cooked on hot stones as well as soups and pastas.
Salaverry 105, 3rd floor, located in front of the Chivay Market
El Balcon de Don Zacarias
Serves classic Peruvian dishes a la carte; buffet option for lunch.
Av. 22 de Agosto 102, Plaza de Armas, Chivay
Aromas Caffee
Satisfy your cravings for coffee, teas, fruit juices, hot chocolate, cakes and desserts.
Plaza de Armas, Chivay
Delicious and varied buffet lunch.
Calle Francisco Bolognesi 1026, Chivay
Curiña Restaurant at Belmond Las Casitas
Sample enticing Arequipa cuisine including chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder), ocopa Arequipeña (potatoes with spicy cheese sauce), rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper) and ponderaciones (fried pastries). All dishes are prepared using fresh ingredients from the hotel’s organic garden and local suppliers.
Belmond Las Casitas, Parque Curiña s/n, Yanque
Urpicha del Colca
Great place to try Peruvian staples like trout and alpaca; menu includes vegetarian options, too.
Mariano Melgar 500, Yanque
La Granja del Colca
Prepares delicious dishes using homegrown organic ingredients. Hours: 7 am to 2 pm (open for breakfast and lunch; cash only)
Km 9.5 carretera Cruz del Condor, Cabanaconde
Kuntur Wassi
Part of Hotel Kuntur Wassi, prepares Peruvian dishes and fresh-baked pizzas.
Calle Cruz Blanca, Cabanaconde
Pachamama Bar
Wood-fired pizza and Peruvian food along with cocktails and a warm environment great for meeting other travelers. Happy hour from 7 to 8 pm.
San Pedro 209, Cabanaconde
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Colca Canyon Travel Tips

Your travel advisor can arrange private or shared transport to Colca Canyon to/from Arequipa or Lake Titicaca (Puno). This is the easiest and most comfortable way to get to your destination.

Colca Canyon does not have a public airport. Visitors must travel overland from either Arequipa or Puno.

From Arequipa:

  • Distance: Arequipa is about 3.5 hours (100 miles/160 km) from Chivay, the central transport hub of the Colca Canyon.
  • Public transportation includes:
    • Minivans — depart at 3:00 am and reach Mirador Cruz del Condor in time to see condors in flight. Drop-off is at Cabanaconde around 10:00 am.
    • Public buses — leave from Terminal Terrestre in Arequipa every few hours until 2pm. Advisable to buy tickets in advance.

From Puno/Lake Titicaca

  • Distance: Puno is about 4.5 hours (155 mi/250 km) from Chivay.
  • For public transport, the company “4M – Express” provides safe and reliable service between Chivay and Puno. Buses depart at 1:15 pm, and arrive at Terminal Terrestre in Puno at 7:30 pm. There are 3 stops along the way at various viewpoints.

Belmond Andean Explorer

  • PeruRail now offers the Belmond Andean Explorer luxury sleeper service with a choice of one- or two-night journeys. This is a fantastic way to traverse the Peruvian Andes in style. Ask your travel advisor for details.

Long distances and steep roads separate the towns and main attractions of the Colca Canyon. Incas Expert packages include transportation for all tours so you can sit back and enjoy the sights.

Hiking options: On arrival to your hotel, ask the concierge for a map of local hiking routes. These trails can get you to hot springs, archaeological sites, and viewpoints over the Colca Valley.

All visitors to Colca Canyon must pay a 70 soles entrance fee. You can buy the ticket at any checkpoint. Hold on to the ticket, as park officials will ask to see it at various checkpoints along the typical tourist route.

Chivay has an ATM on the Plaza de Armas. The smaller towns of the Colca Canyon do not yet have ATMs. It is a good idea to stock up on cash in Arequipa or in Puno before you travel to the Colca Canyon.

For a taste of high altitude Andean trekking, many travelers choose a Colca Canyon trek as away to experience more of the deep canyon. The most popular route departs from Cabanaconde and descends to the oasis resort town of Sangalle. The slope is unrelentingly steep whether you are going up or down — usually 2 to 3 hours for the descent and 3 to 4 hours for the ascent.

May to November is the high season for tourism to the Colca Canyon. The weather is warm during the day and cold at night. Be sure to make reservations for accommodation in advance. The end of the rainy season (April and May) is also a great time to visit because the terraces will be brilliantly green with crops and flowering plant life.

Many towns of the Colca Canyon are higher in elevation than Arequipa (7,661 ft or 2,335 m) and about the same as Cusco (11,150 ft or 3,400 m). Take the same precautions as you would in Cusco – stay hydrated, avoid heavy meals or alcohol on your first days at altitude, and drink the local remedy, coca leaf tea. Take a few days to acclimate before attempting any strenuous activity.


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