Our 2017 detailed guide to the Colca Canyon from how to get there, what to do and all your frequently asked questions
Colca Canyon Brief Summary:
- Located about 4 hours from the city of Arequipa, Peru.
- The second deepest canyon in the world and a must if you are in Arequipa.
- To The best place in South America to see the Andean Condor, with its impressive 3 metre wingspan, up close.
- One of the most popular destinations in Peru for treking
Below we have created our extensive guide to the Colca Canyon based on our expert local knowledge having helped to transport over 30,000 travellers here since our formation in 2013.
Colca Canyon Guide Contents:
1. How to get to the Colca Canyon – Compare transportation options.
2. Colca Canyon Tour or Trek?– Compare options for activities in the Colca Canyon.
3. Did you know?– Colca Canyon fun facts.
4. What to bring to the Colca Canyon– Be prepared for your tour.
5. Colca Canyon FAQs– We answer your frequently asked questions.
6. Photo Gallery – A few of the best photos of the Colca Canyon.
How to get to the Colca Canyon
How to get to the Colca Canyon:
The Colca Canyon is located about 4 hours outside of the city of Arequipa. The best way to get there is to take a tour or trek which includes transportation to and from Arequipa.
If you are looking for information on the best buses to take to Arequipa, visit our passes page. Select your departure city, the countries you want to visit, and amount of time you have to travel. Then browse our passes to see which include your desired stop in Arequipa.
Colca Canyon Tour or Trek?
Colca Canyon Tour or Trek?
Since we know everyone’s needs are different and people like to explore the Canyon in different ways, we have put together a comparison table below of both TOURS and TREKS to the Canyon. Choose the option that best fits your style and timeframes and go explore. For those of decent fitness we recommend the 2-day trek, with the night spent at the very bottom of the Canyon floor. One day in Arequipa itself is required to acclimatize if you go for the trek option.
Peru Hop does not operate any tours to the Colca Canyon. To see Peru Hop’s recommended operators, check out our tips for the Full Day Tour, 2 Day Tour, 2 Day Trek, and 3 Day Trek.
If you are looking for more information about Colca Canyon Tours & Treks, visit FindLocalTrips.com where you can compare itineraries, operators and prices.
Did you know?
Did you know?
- The Colca Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon!
- The area surrounding the Canyon is famed for its traditional and colourful towns which you will pass through along the way.
- In the Canyon you can find over 100 kinds of birds, over 300 types of plants and more than 30 types of cactus.
- The highest point of the Canyon is Ampato at 6388 meters above sea level. These snow-capped peaks form an impressive backdrop to the Canyon.
- The Andean Condor Bird can weigh up to 12 kg with a wingspan of over 3 metres! The CRUZ DE CONDOR viewpoint is famed as the best place in South America to see the Andean Condor in flight.
What to bring to the Colca Canyon
What to bring to the Colca Canyon:
We want you to be well prepared for your trip to the Colca Canyon.
For TOURS of the Colca Canyon
- Water bottle
- Original passport
- Local money
- Warm jacket
- ***For the FULL DAY tour, bring a small bag only. Large luggage can be stored at your accommodation in Arequipa.
For TREKS of the Colca Canyon
- Photocopy of passport and immigration card (TAM)
- Light backpack
- 1.5 to 2 litres of water for day 1 (if you need more you can buy it at the small shops at the villages BUT expensive)
- Sun cream (very important)
- Hat, sunglasses
- Trekking shoes or boots
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Warm layers, sweater or jacket (IMPORTANT) –Temperatures reach lows of -10 Celsius
- Shorts or pants for walking
- Swimming suit, sandals, towel – swimming pools in the oasis, and thermal baths in Chivay on the way back to Arequipa!
- Flashlight/headtorch – Early trek out of the Canyon starts at 5am before sunrise (It is dark!)
- Basics like toilet paper, etc
- Snacks (Breakfast on the last day is AFTER the early morning hike out of the Canyon – bring enough snacks to fuel you up the climb!)
- Insects repellent
- Personal medications (if necessary)
- Hiking sticks (optional)
- Money for drinks
I cannot decide between the TOUR and TREK. What are the main differences?
Full Day Tour: Best for travelers on a tight schedule. Departs Arequipa at 03:30am and returns at 17:30pm.
2 Day Tour: Best for the less active traveler. Does not include an actual hike into the Canyon, instead stopping at nice viewpoints and traditional viewpoints along the way.
2 Day Trek: Best for the energetic traveler. The climb out is a good 1100m so please bear this in mind (a day’s acclimatization is required upon arrival in Arequipa).
3 Day Trek: Best for those wanting to enjoy the Canyon at a more relaxed pace.
I do not want to take all of my stuff with me. Where can I leave my big bag?
Hotels and hostels in Arequipa will normally store your bags in their safety deposit for free whilst you are away at the Canyon, until you check-in again upon your return. Head off for the trip with just what you need and leave the rest in storage. Especially for the trek as you will need to carry what you take.
I will arrive with the Peru Hop bus at 05.30am and wish to leave straight away to go on the 2 Day Conventional Tour at 08.00 am. Is this possible?
Yes, you can head straight out to the Canyon the day you arrive for the Conventional 2 Day Tour. We will drop you off at your hotel/hostel that you will stay at upon your return from the Colca so that you can leave your big bag in storage, grab yourself an early breakfast and be ready for pick up before 08:00am.
I want to do the TREK but I am not traveling with any camping equipment…
You do not need any special equipment with you to be able to tackle the Colca. A tent is not required. Accommodation in small rustic huts is provided in the ¨Oasis¨ at the bottom of the Canyon. It can get cold at nights and very warm during the day so you need to pack for all weathers and have comfortable footwear (trekking shoes or good trainers are sufficient).
I do not feel well and wish to cancel my trip for tomorrow morning?
Peru Hop does not operate the Colca Tours and Treks. The tour providers allows cancellations up to 17:00pm the day before at no cost. Cancellations after this time or missed tours will be charged the full fee.
I woke up late and missed my tour pick up. Can I change it for tomorrow?
Peru Hop does not operate the Colca Tours and Treks. The operators will charge us fully for any NO SHOW or missed departure not previously cancelled before 17:00pm the day before. If you would like to book the tour/trek again for the next day, then this is possible but you will have to pay a second time.
Will I have problems with altitude sickness on tours of the Colca Canyon?
Altitude sickness can catch many travellers a little bit off guard. Not everyone gets sick in high altitudes and it is difficult to predict who is likely to be badly affected by it. For most people, it is nothing more than a headache and some dizzy sensations that diminishes over a short period of time. 1 to 2 days for most people. If you want to limit your chances of getting sick though, there are a few things you can do. Number 1: Do not fly directly into high altitude proceed slowly allowing your body time to acclimatise as you ascend gradually. However, for many that is not possible so further steps to take: Drink lots of water and slow down!! This sounds simple but both of these things are very important. Your body is struggling because you don’t have enough oxygen so avoiding any extraneous activity is a good idea. Chew Some Coca Leaves. The native people of South America have been chewing coca for centuries thanks to its ability to alleviate mild altitude sickness symptoms. Coca leaves can be bought in any supermarket and even souvenir shops or street stalls. Take (Soroche) Altitude Sickness pills these are sold over the counter all over Peru and Bolivia and are just a few dollars. If you are flying straight into altitude over 2500meter, without spending any time at a intermediate elevation and you’re worried about getting sick, you can ask your doctor for more specific and stronger altitude sickness medication in advance. In the rare case that your symptoms be more severe than a headache and mild dizziness you should seek to descend in altitude and seek medical assistance.