The Colca Canyon. At a depth of 13,650 ft it’s more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The Colca Canyon is 100 miles northwest of Arequipa, full of pre-Inca roots and towns founded during the Spanish colonial times. It’s also home to the Andean Condor and some lovely hot springs. So how can you make sure you get the most out of your Colca Canyon Tour?
The Colca Canyon reaches altutides of almost 500m above sea level. If you don’t take things slow you’re likely to feel the effects, and whilst they range in seriousness, even a headache can stop you from really appreciating the trip.
Before you travel to the Colca Canyon give yourself a few days to get used to increasing altitudes. Spending a few days at Arequipa (2,328m above sea level) will help your body to adjust.
Main rules when dealing with altitude are:
– Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol which can dehydrate you.
– Eat little and sleep alone
– Climb high, sleep slow. Do not ascend more than 300m in one day once you’ve gone above 3000m.
– Take it easy, don’t overexert yourself. Even climbing a few stairs will be harder at altitude.
PACK WARM CLOTHES
The Colca Canyon is cold. Very cold. You’ll need hats and gloves, jumpers and coats to fully enjoy the experience. Should you forget to pack some warm clothes you’ll find plenty of roadside stalls along the way selling alpaca goods. Don’t underestimate how cold it is, especially at night!
TAKE YOUR HIKING BOOTS
This is clearly an obvious one if you’ve booked the hiking/camping option, but even if you’ve chosen the bus tour you’ll want to, and you will be, walking for some of the trip. Whilst you can get a good insight to the beauty of the Colca Canyon from the bus, you’ll only truly appreciate it on foot. A two-three hour walk through some of the mountainside where you’ll come across condors, indigenous plants and villagers is the best way to get to know the Colca Canyon. Oh, and the walk on the first day ends with time to bathe in the hot springs – what gets better than that?
TAKE AN EMPTY MEMORY CARD & A GOOD CAMERA
At some point on the tour, whichever option you choose, you’ll be taken up to ‘Cruz del condor’. This is a lookout point that gives you spectacular views of the condors as they leave their nests in the canyon and fly out to catch food. Take a camera with a good zoom and a memory card with lots of space. You’ll want to take plenty of snaps of these huge birds as they swoop between the canyon walls.
Aside from the condors, there’s plenty of beautiful scenery. If your tour group stays in Chivay then chances are you’ll be taken to a restaurant in the town that performs a traditional Andean dance after dinner. The dance shows a young boy courting a girl but evolves in to them each whipping the other. Odd maybe, but fun nonetheless.
Not a morning person? Then a tour to the Colca Canyon probably isn’t for you. In order to see as much as possible you’ll be waking up early. The condors put on their best show in the morning and you really won’t want to miss it!
Have you been to the Colca Canyon? Any other tips you’d add?