Carved into the foothills of the snow-covered Andes and sliced by the silvery Río Colca, Colca Canyon drops 3,182 meters (10,607 feet) down. Bird lovers (and anyone with an eye for amazement) can visit the Cruz del Condor.. Light hikers and archaeology aficionados can observe points along the rim, or those seeking pure relaxation can hit one of the all-inclusive lodges with horseback riding and thermal baths. Only scrub brush and cactus cling to the canyon's sheer basalt sides and miles of ancient terraces.
The canyon is named for the stone warehouses (colcas) used to store grain by an ancient society living along the walls of the gorge. Cruz del Condor is a haunt for the giant birds, particularly at dawn, when they soar on the winds rising from the deep valley. At 1,200 meters (4,000 feet), the "condor cross" precipice, between the villages Pinchollo and Cabanaconde, is the best place to spot them. From June to August you're likely to spot close to 20 or more condors during a morning visit. By October and November many of the female birds are nesting, so your chances of eyeing flocks are slim, but you'll likely spot a few birds.
What's included at a glance:
- Round trip bus or van to and from Arequipa/Colca Canyon
- Pick up and drop off at your hotel Arequipa
- Entrance fees
- Shared guided tour to and from Arequipa
- Meals as indicated
Day 1: Arriving in ArequipaArriving from Puno, Lima or Cusco, we pick you up and escort you to our comfortable hotel in the white city of Arequipa. Our colonial hotel close to the city centre and the Santa Catalina Convent and the rest of the day is at leisure to explore the convent and old Arequipa.
Day 2: Arequipa to Colca CanyonPick up at around 7:00 am and we wind out of Arequipa past El Misti Volcano to the barren altiplano. The colors and scenery are spectacular as we pass endangered grazing Vicunas and ponds with Andean Geese. Reaching the last pass above the Colca Canyon we see the mounds of stones called apachetas where weary travelers have left a rock over the centuries to symbolize the shedding of their weariness at the pass. We can see many snow peaks and volcanoes from here.. Winding down into the Colca, we stay at the comfortable Colca Lodge or similar hotel with spa and hot springs and all luxury amenities. B : L
Day 3: Colca canyon to ArequipaThis morning after a hearty and leisurely breakfast we drive a short distance down the side of the Colca Canyon reputed to be the deepest canyon in the world, past megalithic ancient terracing, to Cruz del Condor. Here Andean Condors and other Birds of Prey, roost on inaccessible ledges and once hot air thermals have developed, produced by the burning Andean sun, they circle out gaining height and provide stunning photographic opportunities. The Condors are big and one cannot help but be amazed by these creatures. After lunch in nearby Chivay, we retrace our steps to Arequipa and the Arequipa hotel for the night. B:L:
Day 4: Arequipa to Cusco or LimaBreakfast and transfer to the airport or bus terminal for your bus or flight
Note: Prices do not include flights or buses to Cusco or Lima