Colca Canyon

It is widely considered that the Colca Valley in Peru is among the most scenic regions in the entire country. It is here where you will find the impressive and majestic Colca Canyon, which, by the way, is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Though its sides may not be as steep, it is nonetheless amazing to behold. The main town in the Colca Valley is Chivay, which is quite scenic itself. Chivay has a nice selection of restaurants, and as far as good hotels go, there are some nice moderately-priced options. The Colca Valley pertains to the area around the north and south banks of the Colca Canyon, and with some nice villages within easy reach of one another, it is an increasingly welcome side-trip for curious tourists. Generally, visitors to the Colca Canyon come by way of Arequipa, which is just around 100 miles to the southeast.

Besides the fantastic scenery, many visitors make their way to the Colca Canyon for a chance to see the famed Andean condor. Just 30 miles west of Chivay is the famed Cruz del Condor lookout area, and in the morning, you might expect to see a pretty good crowd waiting for their chance to see the largest flying bird on earth. At around 9 am, the condors begin to emerge below. The lookout point is almost 4,000 feet above the Colca River, and as the condors make their way ever higher, unsuspecting visitors will soon get the surprise of a lifetime. It is not uncommon for an Andean condor to soar just overhead those in attendance, and you can imagine that by now they are probably used to all the cameras. The Andean condor was highly revered by the Inca, and seeing one fly and search for prey right before your eyes is certainly worth adding to your list of things to do in Peru. Sometimes they can soar for minutes on end without a flap of their huge wings. An Andean Condor can have a wingspan of up to 10-11 feet, and larger males can weigh close to 35 lbs. This impressive avian creature is the inspiration of one of Peru’s most famous songs, “El Condor Pasa”.

If you are staying in Chivay during your trip to the Colca Valley, you will likely catch wind of the La Calera hot springs. These natural springs are open from 8 am - 8 pm every day, and after touring about the Colca Canyon, they can be a good place to soothe tired muscles. Colca Canyon tours are a good way to enjoy Peru’s great outdoors, and a Colca Canyon trek is among the top pursuits for those who wish to hike down into it. Two types of Colca Canyon tours seem to be the prevailing ones, a Colca Canyon trek being one of them, and a scenic bus ride being the other. If you choose the Colca Canyon trek, you might consider staying the night before or after in the village of Cabanaconde, where most treks begin. Cabanaconde, like the other Colca Valley villages, has fascinating locals, and you will find some very affordable hostels here. If you choose to go with a Colca Canyon travel package, you will find that the travel agency usually has you staying at one of the basic, yet comfortable hotels in Chivay. If you want to step up the quality of your accommodations, you can look to stay at one of the more luxurious inns and lodges that are located in the valley.

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