Colca Visuals: Deep Canyons sin Condors

Colca Canyon View - Pre-Inca Terraces
Checkout the Pre-Inca Terraces on the ridge. Classic.

A 3:30am wake-up call for a 2-day guided tour doesn’t get me excited.

I pulled myself up into the crowded tour bus and stumbled my way to the back where I took a quick survey of the talent pool before passing out for the next 2 hours. Still not excited.

It was a long ride from downtown Arequipa to the Colca region, but around 7am we arrived at our first stop, “The Condor Observatory.” We spent an hour squinting at little black dots along the canyon ridge. No condors in sight. Even less excited now.

We piled back into the tourist mobile and drove another hour before we stopped again. This time my flaccid demeanor started to perk up. It was finally time to be set free!

Our Peruvian tour guide jumped out and signaled for the big Kiwi, the bearded Uruayan, the swiss girl and myself to file out. Turns out, all the other schleps were just along for the ride.  It would be just the 5 of us for the next 24 hours.

Stiff seats and boredom quickly turned into open air and adrenaline. We were off and hiking. An 8-hour trek down through the Colca Canyon was exactly what I needed to make up for the last few hours.

We spent the entire day hiking down into the canyon from the ridge above as our guide taught us about local plants, people and culture. It was exciting.

The long, tiring day came with a perfect ending as we arrived at an incredible oasis tucked deep inside the canyon’s walls.

Day 2 was a beautiful bitch.

At 5am we hiked 2 hours straight up the canyon to where our ride was waiting. The kiwi, an ex-military Aussie from another group and myself all subconsciously raced to the top, refusing to take breaks to let the other pass. It was an great workout with a sweet view.

I reached the top just before 9am, exhausted and proud.  That boring bus looked much more enticing this time around.

We finished the tour with breakfast in Cabanaconde and then another attempt at seeing some condors. 0 for 2.

Soak up some of these Colca Canyon Visuals (I left out the boring parts):

Colca Canyon View outside Arequipa Peru
The beautiful view before diving into our trek through the Colca Canyon
Trekking the Colca Canyon outside Arequipa, Peru
The team starting the trek down Colca Canyon
Locals in Colca Canyon Peru
This is Peru. A local women peeling cactus fruit in one of the villages along the trail.
Corn from the Colca Canyon Peru
Colca Canyon Corn from a local farm. I like corn.
Peruvian Colca Canyon Trek
A day in the life at the Colca Canyon
Rooms at the Oasis in Colca Canyon Peru
Lovely Digs at the oasis hidden deep in the Colca Canyon
The pool at the oasis in colca canyon peru
The perfect end to a long trek.
Colca Canyon Oasis - Flower Power
Hey Look, A Flower! Lovely.
Colca Canyon Trek
Day 2: The beautiful bitch of a hike back up the Colca Canyon (way too early).
Colca Canyon Conquered
Victory! Colca Canyon Conquered (don't mind the sweat).
River nearby Hot Springs at Colca Canyon Peru
While everyone went to the hot springs after the trek, I relaxed down at the local river.
Hiking the Colca Canyon in Peru
Local Lifestyle: Stopping to by some treats while everyone else looked for Condors (again).
Colca Canyon Condors in Peru
I didn't see any condors so I stopped to get a closer look at this guy and his eagle. I like eagles better anyway.

The Colca Canyon, northeast of Arequipa, is the 3rd most visited tourist destination in Peru and is said to be the “World’s Deepest Canyon.” The area around and through the Colca Canyon is beautifully rugged and wonderfully traditional. The local people maintain a very basic lifestyle and even continue to cultivate pre-inca stepped farming terraces.

Exciting, no?

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My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

3 Comments

  1. Amazing photos of an amazing part of Peru. The Cotahuasi Canyon (nearby to the Colca) is now officially the “deepest” (I think there is around 40m difference in it – tough call!) but the Colca is the best for tourists – hiking, trekking, hot baths – the works! The only problem is the Condors are prone to shyness! Still, a highlight of any holiday to Peru, and I didn’t realise it was the 3rd most visited location (I’m guessing behind Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines?).

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