11 Things to Know Before Hiking the Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon | © Pedro Szekely / Flickr
Photo of Brandon Dupre
15 January 2018

If you’re in Peru you’re most likely going to head to Arequipa, one of the country’s most beautiful cities. That means that you will probably trek into the world’s second deepest canyon, because why wouldn’t you if you’re in the south of Peru? It’s the thing to do. But before you go, here are some things you should know.

Hidden entrance fee

It won’t be included in any package deal that you book with a company, and, unless you’re lucky, it isn’t talked about until you actually arrive at the canyon. The fee to get into the park is around 70 soles ($22). It’s pretty steep and your tour package usually seems low because the price isn’t included. Make sure to bring some extra cash with you when you head to the canyon.

Stunning views

It is a popular tourist destination for a reason: it’s one of the most beautiful natural wonders in all of Peru. It’s difficult to take in the entire canyon at one lookout point, so you’ll go to many. Even just walking in the canyon, you’ll look up and stare with wonder at its sheer massive size

Colca canyon | © Pedro Szekely/ Flickr

Early rise

You’re going to wake up bright and early – 3 am early. Regardless, if you want to do a one, two or three day trek into the canyon, you’re going to have to wake up that early. While it might seem too early, you’ll get a chance to sleep on the 4 hour bus ride to the canyon.

Second deepest canyon in the world

It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is the second deepest canyon in the word, behind only China’s Tsangpo Canyon.

An unexpected oasis

It is mostly a hot desert as you make your way into the canyon – but not to worry, you’ll eventually find an oasis. It springs upon you at the right time, once you’re hot and sweaty and in need of a break. There are also thermal baths, making for the perfect place to drink a beer and chill. However, you’ll only make it here if you go on a multi-day hike.

Beautiful views | © jroepstorff / Pixabay

Second-day no breakfast

If you do a two-day hike, the second morning you won’t have a breakfast. The second day is going to be the most difficult because you have to hike up the canyon, which is a grueling task. To make up for that time you won’t have a breakfast to start your day, so bring something to ensure you aren’t starving.

One-day tour should be called van tour

The one day tour doesn’t give you a “feel” of the canyon. You don’t get to hike into it and actually get an idea of its immense depth. You instead ride in a van, touring the canyon from the best look-out locations.

The hike is no joke

You’re hiking the second deepest canyon in the world, so you’re in for a steep hike, especially on the day you’ll be hiking out of the canyon. Be prepared – it’s not gonna be easy.

Not guaranteed to see condors

One of the coolest things to see in the canyon are the massive Andean condors, the largest birds in the Americas. Everyone wants a picture of one of these majestic birds, however, they don’t always come out. Some days you’ll see 15 and other times, nothing.

Condor in the canyon | © eduardoalarcon /Pixabay

Harsh sun

The sun in the desert and the canyon is no joke. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat. You’ll be exposed to the sun all day as you make your descent in the canyon and your ascent out.

Horse option

If you need it, you’ll be given the option of taking a horse in and out of the canyon. If you feel like you’ll have some troubles, do take the horse. It’s a perfect way to see the canyon, perched up on a beautiful horse.

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