The most well known and most frequented hike in the south of Peru is without a doubt Colca Canyon. The hike itself brings thousands of people to Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city, each year, venturing into the giant canyon. It is the second deepest canyon in the world and supports the Americas’ largest bird, the Andean condor. You’ll have options to do one, two and even more days in the Canyon if you wish. It is popular to book with travel agencies but you can also just as easily plan the trip yourself if you have some time to spare and want to explore the entire canyon without a time constraint.
This is a perfect hike if you’ve had enough of the early transportation to canyons and volcanoes and just want to have a relaxing, no pressure hike. Begin whenever you want and explore the surrounding country side which has been inhabited since Pre-Incan times. Take a bus or taxi to Characato Valley and from there you can take a walk through countryside landscape, taking in Arequipa’s beauty at your own pace.
Laguna de Salinas
It may get overshadowed by the other hikes in Arequipa, but it really shouldn’t be. The rainy season brings hundreds of birds to the area (including flamingos) and during the dry season the flats are completely dried up, creating an equally beautiful scene. You can take the bus that passes through the area and drops you off near the flats. The buses run everyday from Arequipa.
Not exactly a hike in the classic sense, but after you’ve walked all of Arequipa’s Plaza de Armas it’ll feel like it. You can find free walking tours that’ll take you around the city and give you historical context, offered in both English and Spanish. Marvel at the famed white city and its unique beauty.
For any adventurer, seeing the El Misti tower over the city of Arequipa brings one thing to mind: how do I hike that! Well, it turns out that you can and you can even have guides take you on a trek to the top. You’ll begin at 3 am and head to the base of the mountain after a long off-roading trip. From there you begin your ascent to base camp. The next day you’ll arrive at the top, 5,822 meters (19,101 feet) above sea level, and have sweeping views of the entire Arequipa area. There are many companies that offer two-day hikes to the top with equipment and meals included, that costs anywhere from US$70–$100 (€57-€82) per person.
At about 6,000 meters (19,685 ft) above sea level you’d think it’d be a pretty diffcult hike. In fact, Chachani is one of the easiest hikes in the world for its remarkable height. The height doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done in two, three or four day treks. Once at the top, you’ll get unrivaled views of the entire area and striking views of Arequipa.
The sights of this remarkable canyon are sure to amaze and there are also some of the best rapids in Peru that run right through Cotahuasi. Whether you decide on Colca or Cotahuasi, you’re in for a treat.