Colca Canyon overview, photo by Jim Stevenson.
How to hike Colca Canyon
Most tourists do the Colca Canyon trip over a couple of days, with about 5 hours in the canyon (trekking is spectacular) and only an hour at Cruz del Condor, staying in the canyon for one night. Picking up a package in Arequipa is easy or just take a local bus if you have plenty of time.
Cabanaconde is a good town to stay over and do some proper hikes; a local bus takes about 5 hours to get there.
If you have to do it in one day it’s a lot of travel time: you leave Arequipa about 3 am and drive for 5-6 hours straight to Cruz Del Condor to probably see some condors. After that you will drive back, stopping off at some interesting viewpoints and towns along the way and then arriving in Arequipa by 8 pm.
Jim Stevenson decided to do a three day walk, which was tough but very satisfying!
Hikers start off down into the Canyon on a long and sweaty walk. Photo by Jim Stevenson.
A traditional two day Colca Canyon hiking itinerary
Pick up by minibus 2am – 4am in Arequipa. 4 hour drive to the canyon. First stop is half an hour at Cruz del Condor lookout. At about 9 am start the hike down to the Oasis (photo above), amazing views but quite hard walking for 6 hours but if you’re lucky your Oasis accommodation will have a pool. However, there’s no electricity in the Oasis and beds may be ‘basic’!
Wake at 5am and trek back up the canyon for 3 hours. Have breakfast at the top and perhaps jump into a hot spring for a good soak. Drive to Chivay for lunch. Then return to Arequipa around 6pm.
Remember to take essentials such as sun block, hat, bathing suit, towel, torch, toilet paper, band aid for blisters, water and perhaps a walking stick.