The Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world

The Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world

04 March 2022

When visiting the 'White City' you are not only thinking about touring its countryside and the Ruta del Sillar, strolling through its viewpoints and marveling at the imposing Misti; or to give your palate a treat by trying its delicious and varied gastronomy. You also want that connection with nature, practice outdoor sports and get to know the native peoples of the area. And you can find everything in one place.


The province of Caylloma, located in the extreme northeast of the southern department, is one of the eight divisions that make up the Arequipa region. What makes this area so important is the natural treasure that houses its land. It is not a national park, an extreme source of biodiversity or an imposing snow-capped mountain. None of that: here lies the imposing and enigmatic Colca Canyon which, at 4,160 meters, is considered the fourth deepest in the world.


Located within the Colca Valley, the Canyon is one of the largest tourist destinations not only in Arequipa, but also in Peru. Its easy access -a bus or private car from the city to the Chivay district, does not take more than 3 hours and a half-. Varied activities are developed here that make it so required by tourists interested in adventure sports, ancient culture and nature lovers.


Because in the Colca Canyon you can connect with your most adventurous side and practice trekking, rafting or mountain biking, activities that are gaining more and more followers in these places. Once you have connected with nature, try to see the amazing scenery full of vegetation, until you reach one of the peaks of the Colca, where from a viewpoint tourists are waiting for the appearances of the majestic condors.


Yes, we are talking about those imposing Andean birds, considered the largest in the world, since they can weigh up to 15 kilograms and measure 3 meters wide -with their wings extended-. The Andean condor is a native species of Peru and the Colca is its home, a place where it is appreciated by travelers.




The Colca Canyon is one of the most visited destinations in Peru, it is located in the department of Arequipa, Caylloma province, 165 kilometers from Arequipa and 40 km from Chivay, the main town of the Caylloma province.


What does Colca Canyon mean?


The Colca Canyon reaches a depth of 4,160 meters, making it one of the deepest places in the world. It was formed by the erosion of volcanic rock caused by the Colca River along a fault line in the earth's crust. In addition, it is located near the Valley of the Volcanoes, which is made up of approximately 40 volcanoes, which makes it a geologically active zone.




The Colca River extends for 450 km on the eastern slope of the Andes mountain range, along its course it changes its name to the Majes River and later becomes the Camaná River. The Colca Valley corresponds to the first portion of the basin of this river and it is there where the Colca Canyon is located.


An important fact to mention is that in 2005 the Polish mathematician and expeditionary Andrew Pietowski announced that in the area adjacent to the town of Quillo Orco, in the district of Huambo, the depth of the Colca Canyon reached 4,160 m on the north side. and 3,600 meters on the south side. An earlier measurement made in 1981 gave the depth as 3,250 m.


As for the settlement of these valleys, it is believed that the first inhabitants arrived in this place about 8,000 years ago, since vestiges of more than 5,000 years are found in the Sumbay cave. Later, 3,000 years ago, a Neolithic revolution took place when the settlers improved their instruments and extractive techniques. Currently you can appreciate terraces with more than 1000 years old that are still used for agriculture.


Sustainable Destination


Arequipa and the rest of Peru celebrate it. The Colca Canyon was included in the list of the 100 sustainable destinations in the world. This certification was granted by the Global Destination institution, which recognized the green values ​​and adequate tourism that takes place in this area of ​​the country.


Since 1995, thanks to its beautiful landscape, the deep canyon and at the same time the habitat of the condor; tourism has been promoted in this valley”, Global Destination mentioned in its travel guide.


The Colca Canyon shares a place on the aforementioned list along with other exemplary destinations such as the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), the city of Kyoto (Japan), the town of Vail (United States) and the island of Saba (Holland).


For his part, the manager of the Colca Autonomous Authority (Autocolca), Winder Anconeira, pointed out that this award will serve to promote the Arequipa canyon throughout the world.


What can be seen in the Colca Canyon?


The Colca Canyon is the habitat of animals and birds such as the Andean condor among other diverse species of birds. One of the shows that will most dazzle the visit to the canyon is the sunrise next to the precipice, where you can see when the sun is rising, and next to it we will see the flight of approximately 20 condors.


We can say that the Colca Valley is ideal for recreational and artistic activities such as painting, photography, poetry, among others, since a peace resides; in the same way it is conducive to adventure sports such as trekking, climbing, etc.


The viewpoint of the cross of the condor:

This privileged spot is located in the district of Cabanaconde. From this viewpoint you can see the walls and the bottom of the canyon. In addition, the flight of the condor can often be observed, since they are accustomed to human presence.


The Andean Condor

  • It is a species of bird in the Cathartidae family. Recognized as the largest and heaviest flying bird on the planet.
  • It is one of the birds that flies at higher altitudes, using vertical ascending thermal air currents, then it can fly for hundreds of kilometers gliding over the territory almost without moving its outstretched wings.
  • It feeds on dead animals, but they do not eat them immediately because once the carrion is located, the condors do not descend to eat immediately, but they limit themselves to flying over their victim and can spend up to two days until they approach their prey. , to start feeding on the softest parts first.
  • In Caylloma condors are seen regularly, although according to the residents they were more frequent before. The causes of their population decline are unknown, although anthropogenic pressure and the fragmentation of their habitats have been suggested.
  • But this is not all! Recently, an Andean condor viewpoint is becoming known, which is located in the department of Cusco, province of Anta, district of Limatambo, this Cusco condor canyon promises to be one of the greatest tourist attractions in Peru.

Hot Springs:

From Caylloma to Canco there are hot springs with a maximum temperature of 85 C° at the outlet of the spring. Among the best known of these, are the thermal baths of La Calera, which is located in the vicinity of Chivay.


Flora and fauna:

The most important inhabitant is the condor (vulturgryphus), master of the heights and the largest flying bird in the Andes. Also worth mentioning are the LequeLeque (vanellus resplendens), Guallatas (Chloephagamelanoptera), Pariguanas (Phoenicoparrusandinus) and among the mammals we can mention the Andean Fox or atoq, the skunk or añas, wild cats or osjos, vicuñas, taruca, vizcacha, wild guinea pig , among others.



The cultural manifestations of the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the Colca Valley are the platforms, which are gigantic terraces that cover a large part of the valley. Its construction dates back to the time of the Collaguas and Canaguas, others are older and others belong to the Incas.


What to do in the Colca Valley?


Get to know the little towns of the Colca Valley

Like Pinchollo, Maca, Achoma, Cabanaconde, Coporaque, Yanque and other picturesque towns, where you can practice experiential tourism, horseback riding, trekking in the surroundings, cycling, adventure sports and see the beautiful nature and fauna of the place.


Observe the Condor in its natural habitat

The Colca Canyon is the perfect place to see one of the most representative birds of biodiversity in our country, the Andean condor. You can see their flight from the Cruz del Cóndor viewpoint and marvel at the size of these birds as well as the impressive views of the surrounding mountains.


Chacapi Hot Springs

2km away of the Yanque district, you can find the Chacapi Thermal Baths, where you can rest and relax in its pools with waters that reach up to 50 degrees Celsius and have healing properties for rheumatic diseases and muscle pain.


Trekking in the Colca Valley

One way to get to know this destination to appreciate its beautiful nature is by taking tours on foot of several hours and through different towns. The beautiful hiking trails include stays in some of the towns like Yanque or Sangalle. An unforgettable experience in your travel plan to Arequipa!


How much does the entrance to the Colca Valley cost?


The price of the tourist ticket for the Colca Canyon, Salinas, Aguada Blanca and Valley of the Volcanoes tourist circuit depends on the age and nationality of the tourists:

  • Peruvians: Adult Visitor: s/.20 Child Visitor (6 to 15 years): s/.5 Student Visitor (Undergraduate): s/.5 Senior Adult Visitor (60 years and over) s/.5
  • Latin Americans: Adult visitor: s/.40 Child visitor (6 to 15 years): s/.20
  • Foreigner: Adult visitor: s/.70 Child visitor (6 to 15 years): s/.20

Now you know! Pack your suitcase, because it is worth visiting the Colca Canyon, which already has three international awards. The first award was obtained thanks to the wititi, the traditional dance of the valley, which was named intangible heritage of humanity, and the second distinction was achieved by being recognized as a geopark. Both awarded by UNESCO.


When is the best season to visit the Colca Canyon in Peru?


Something that we must take into account is the climate of the Colca Canyon, which reaches an average of 15 to 20 ° C, during the day, in the months of April to November.


And in the rainy season that includes from mid-November to mid-March, it reaches 5 to 10 ° C, this is due to the cloudy sky that prevents the sun's rays from penetrating during the day.


The best destinations in Perú


Once you decide to visit Paracas, you could add the best destinations to combine the history and experience for your trip to Peru. Peru offers the most beautiful destinations, culture and naturals. we recommend to extend your holidays and choose these best destinations and prepare your itinerary:

Best Peru Treks


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