If you have 4 days to spare on your trip to Peru, squeeze in a trip to Arequipa and do the Colca Canyon trek. We absolutely loved the experience.
Who should do the Colca Canyon trek?
This is experience is totally for you
- if you want to get gradually acclimatized for your later visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu (Lima – 0m, Arequipa – 2328m, Cusco – 3400m)
- if you want to practice a 2 day high-elevation hike at around 3000m elevation before a longer hike around Machu Picchu
- if you want to see rare wildlife, such as wild vicunas (producing the softest wool in the world) and Andean condors
- if you enjoy hiking and are not completely unfit, expect 1200m hike uphill(!) before breakfast
What you will see
Day 1: Transfer to Cabanaconde – Hike down – Overnight in Sangalle
Leave Arequipa early around 5-6am. Enjoy the incredibly scenic transfer from Arequipa, past Arequipa’s vulcanoes, through the vast highland pampa of the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve with its wild vicunas over a 4910m high mountain pass. Wind your way down to the Chivay and follow the Colca River to reach the start of your hike. Hike down the arid side of the canyon and admire the multitude of butterflies and spectacular fauna. Cross the river after about 2.5h to the much greener and jungly canyon side to soon reach your lunch place. Continue hiking for 2-3 hours to reach your lodge in Sangalle to spend the night.
You may hike through clouds of butterflies. Absolutely stunning!
Day 2: Hike up – Watch the condors – Transfer to Arequipa
Leave at around 4am to start the 1200m hike up the canyon at a low but constant slope zig zagging upwards while it is still fresh and the sun does not burn you. Enjoy a hearty breakfast before driving to a good watching spot for the condors (expect a bunch of lazy tourists who left Arequipa at 2am to get there in time to fall out of the cramped buses). Bath your muscles in a beautiful clean hot-spring before lunch and heading back to Arequipa.
Organizing the Colca Canyon Trek
How to get there?
Fly into Arequipa. From there join a tour that takes care of your transfers, guide for the trek, accomodation and food.
How much will it cost?
The 2-days everything included (except tips) will likely cost 170-230 USD per person. Considering this includes long transfers, a 24/7 guide, all meals and the overnight stay this is absolutely fair and we are really glad we made this investment. We can recommend the tour with Land Adventures and Veronica as a guide <3.
Should I rather do the 3 day trek?
From what we understood, the 2 day trek is exactly the SAME trek as the 3 day trek just split into 3 shorter walks with 1 more overnight stay. So unless you want to walk a lot slower or take a lot of time to explore, we are not sure this is the best time investment.