What to Expect on Your Journey From Arequipa to Colca Canyon

What to Expect on Your Journey From Arequipa to Colca Canyon

The stunning colonial city of Arequipa, sometimes referred to as the “White City,” is situated in southern Peru and surrounded by stunning volcanoes and picturesque scenery. The Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons and a must-see attraction in Peru, is only a few hours from Arequipa.

The drive from Arequipa to Colca Canyon is a must-do if you’re thinking about visiting Peru. You’ll have the chance to learn more about the area’s rich cultural past, including the way of living of the indigenous groups that call the area home, and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Colca Canyon.

We’ll take you on a tour from Arequipa to Colca Canyon in this blog article, highlighting the sights en route and offering advice on how to make the most of your vacation. We’ll show you why combining Arequipa and Colca Canyon is an absolute must-do while traveling to Peru, from taking in the breathtaking Andean condor to relaxing in hot springs.

Table of contents:

What Is the Colca Canyon?

A short distance from the city of Arequipa in southern Peru is the natural wonder known as the Colca Canyon. It is one of the deepest canyons in the world, nearly double the depth of the Grand Canyon in the United States with a depth of over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).

The Colca Canyon is well-known for its impressive depth, but it’s also the home of a vibrant cultural history and an incredible array of flora and animals. Many traditional indigenous tribes may be found in the area, including the Collagua and Cabana people, who have lived there for thousands of years and still follow their ancient traditions.

colca canyon surrounded high mountain walls

The Colca Canyon is not only significant culturally, but it is also a paradise for those who enjoy the outdoors. The Andean condor, which is one of the most unique birds in Peru, and one of the biggest flying birds in the world, calls the canyon his home.

You may experience the majesty of these magnificent birds as they glide through the canyon and provide an unforgettable spectacle.


Preparing for Your Journey to the Colca Canyon

impressive mountain walls are surrounding the colca canyon

Best Time to Visit Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon has typical Andean and high-altitude weather for Peru. With periods of transition in between, the area has a wet summer and a dry winter.

The wet season is from December to March. During this time, it rains the most. Cloudy skies are typical, and rain tends to be frequent and brief. In the wet season, the temperature ranges from 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C) at night and 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C) in the day.

The dry season, which runs from May to November, is the best time to go if you want warm temperatures and bright skies. At this time of year, the canyon experiences daytime highs of 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C) and nighttime lows of 32°F (0°C).

Remember that although the dry season offers more agreeable temperatures, it is also the busiest travel period, so prepare for more crowds and more expensive travel. Due to potential road closures and muddy trails, the wet season may be a little trickier to travel, but it’s also a more peaceful and reasonably priced time to visit.

To make sure you’re ready for anything Mother Nature has in store, just make sure you pack accordingly.

Transportation Options From Arequipa to Colca Canyon

Driving from Arequipa to the town of Chivay, which is 100 miles (160 km) away, takes roughly three hours by car and even longer by bus. The traditional bus route from Arequipa is to Chivay, but you should check in advance to see if service extends further into the canyon to Cabanconde.

You drive through highland scenery and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve on your way from Arequipa to Colca. Here, you may see various volcanoes, stunning high-altitude views, and herds of beautiful vicunas by the side of the road as you cross Patapampa Pass.


What to Pack for Your Trip to the Colca Canyon?

luggage with clothes, camera, passport and other travel equipment

It’s crucial to consider the climate and geography of the area while choosing your travel clothes for a trip to Colca Canyon. The following are some things to think about bringing:

  • Hiking shoes: The ground in the canyon can be rough and uneven, so it’s necessary to have sturdy footwear.
  • Wear multifunctional and breathable clothing: Pack layers, especially a waterproof jacket.
  • Sun protection: A hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are necessary because the intense sun and high altitude can cause sunburn.
  • Water bottle and hydration supplements: Are necessary due to the canyon’s dry climate and elevation.
  • Use insect repellent: Insects, particularly mosquitoes, are sometimes present, especially in the rainy season.
  • Take your camera and binoculars: Record the experience since the canyon is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and rich wildlife.
  • Personal medications: Be careful to include any prescription drugs you may need, along with a copy of the doctor’s prescription.

In general, comfort and practicality should come first while packing for a vacation to Colca Canyon. Be ready for the region’s diverse weather and topography, and don’t forget to pack necessities like water, sunscreen, and bug repellent.


The Road to Colca Canyon

Embrace the Scenic Drive From Arequipa to Colca Canyon

The drive from Arequipa to Colca Canyon is a beautiful excursion with stunning views of the Andean scenery. Take advantage of the chance to relax, sit back, and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings.

couple with sunglasses and hats standing next to each other and white alpaca in the background

The trip offers an insight into the area’s unique culture and history as it passes through high-altitude fields, winding mountain routes, and picturesque Andean towns. Don’t forget to pack a camera to capture the breathtaking views, and be prepared with motion sickness medicines.


Spots on the Way to Colca Canyon

Pampas Cañahuas

This is the first stop on most tours from Arequipa to Colca. Here, you can see the typical wetlands, vicuñas and the majestic volcano in the back.


Patapampa Pass

The Patapampa pass (4910 m, 16,108 ft) is the highest point when heading to the Colca Canyon. It’ surrounded by the peaks of the three impressive volcanoes Ampato, Sabancayo y Hualca-Hualca.


“Mirador de los Andes” Viewpoint in Chivay

Known also as Mirador de Chivay (Chivay viewpoint), the Mirador de los Andes offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Colca Valley and the Andes Mountains. It’s the perfect place to take in the surrounding area’s breathtaking beauty and size when entering the Colca Canyon.


Pampa de Toccra

The beautiful Pampa de Tocca or Toccra Pampas is known for its high-altitude wetlands and is home to a variety of bird species, including flamingos. The colorful scenery is sprinkled with llamas and alpacas, and all of that leads to an unforgettable view.


Be Prepared for the Altitude Sickness at Colca Canyon

colca river flows through the canyon and surrounded by green terraces

Due to the area’s high altitude to Colca Canyon you may experience altitude sickness. Some of you might experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, exhaustion, and shortness of breath at altitudes higher than 3,000 meters (10,000 feet).

By giving your body enough time to adjust to the altitude and avoiding excessive activity for the first several days, you can ensure proper acclimatization. Additionally, consuming enough water and abstaining from alcohol can assist with symptoms.

Immediately seek medical assistance if symptoms continue or get worse. Make sure to inform yourself about how to avoid altitude sickness to be perfectly prepared for your trip to Colca.


Arriving at Colca Canyon and Discovering the Hotspots

travelers standing at viewpoint and enjoying the colca canyon

The canyon’s natural beauty, along with its rocky canyon walls and rushing river, makes for a breathtaking backdrop as you explore the various activities it has to offer.

The Cruz del Condor viewpoint, where you may see the magnificent Andean condor fly through the canyon, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colca Canyon. Any traveler who enjoys nature or birds must experience this.

The hot springs, which are a great way to relax and refresh after a strenuous day of hiking or touring, are another well-liked attraction. These open-air hot springs offer breathtaking views of the surroundings and a singular, tranquil experience.

Colca Canyon is also home to some fascinating archaeological monuments, including the Uyo Uyo remains and the Maca church, for explorers who are interested in history and culture. These locations provide you a look at the area’s rich historical and cultural legacy.

Colca Canyon offers a wide range of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, cultural excursions and relaxing in hot springs. These experiences are available in our 16-day Peru tour.


Get Ready to Experience Colca Canyon

In conclusion, Colca Canyon is an incredible natural wonder that provides you with a unique experience. This place offers something for everyone, from the beautiful Andean Condors flying above to the unique local culture and picturesque hiking trails. If you’re interested in finding out more, we kindly invite you to read everything you need to know about Peru’s Colca Canyon.

Arequipa and Colca Canyon can be added to all our Peru tours. For more information feel free to contact us or send us an email to info@exploor.pe.

  • 27 June, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    Sounds interesting, but I am currently debating whether to visit Arequipa or the Amazon Jungle. I will not have time for both destinations, what would you suggest?

    • 29 June, 2023 at 12:52 am

      Hi Morgan,
      thank you very much for your comment. I personally would highly recommend the Amazon Jungle as you have not experienced a place like this before. The flora, fauna and learning more about the local tribes and way of life is truly unique.

      Check out our 3 day Iquitos tour to learn more about the different destinations you will visit.


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