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Pets allowed
Yes
Elevation Gain
1,120.00 m (3,674.54 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
22.50 km (13.98 mi)
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With a depth of 4,160 meters (13,648 ft), Colca Canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru is one of the deepest in the world, more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. There are many routes into the canyon available to backpackers, and trekking the route is possible in two or three days. Three days is recommended for those who do not have hiking experience. If needed, hikers have the option of taking a horse in and out of the canyon.

Food is very basic but good. Most family houses and bungalows in Sangalle (Oasis) have set menus and vegetarian options. Their prices vary between 10 to 15 soles (USD $2.99 to $4.48). Every family house or bungalow has a little shop where hikers can buy water, beer, and snacks. It's easy to find good water resources in Colca Canyon, but water from any source must be purified; bring tablets or buy them in Arequipa. Most of the family houses have a source of fresh water, but even these require purification. Also, there are little shops to buy mineral water, though it is expensive. For hikers willing to pay the price, carry less water and refuel in villages along the way. Also, it's recommended to bring all your plastic bottles back to Cabanaconde. Locals burn the plastic, and it is not good for the environment.

Colca Canyon is remote and rustic. Many items are unavailable once on the trail. The most important of these must be carried in:

  • Swimsuit for the pool in Sangalle Oasis
  • Cash; vendors and hostels don't accept credit cards and there is no ATM
  • Flashlight (electricity is hit or miss during the night)
  • Sunscreen and hat (some days the weather is very hot)
  • Binoculars (to see the condors close up)

It is easy to find a place to sleep while trekking in Colca Canyon, but during high season (May through September), book in advance. It is not necessary to bring a tent. The family homestays in Colca Canyon offer basic accommodations, share toilets, and showers for a cheap price. Amenities here are basic. Modern accommodations are not found in Colca Canyon, so do not expect it.The Colca Canyon area is drier and hotter than other parts of Peru. The rainy season, such as it is, lasts approximately from December to March, with February being the wettest. During the rainy season, there is a possibility of flash floods and landslides. The rest of the year, the canyon is dry and hot, though temperatures drop dramatically at night. The best period to visit Colca Canyon is April through June.

    Logistics + Planning

    Preferable season(s)

    Summer
    Spring
    Fall

    Congestion

    High

    Parking Pass

    None

    Open Year-round

    Yes

    Days

    3

    Pros

    Great View. Moderate Hike. Small stores to buy snacks and water. Swimming in an oasis.

    Cons

    High altitude.

    Trailhead Elevation

    10,761.15 ft (3,280.00 m)

    Highest point

    13,648.29 ft (4,160.00 m)

    Address

    Arequipa
    Peru

    Features

    Family friendly
    Guided tours
    Big vistas
    Horseback riding
    Bird watching
    Historically significant
    Backcountry camping
    Near lake or river
    Shelters

    Typically multi-day

    Yes

    Suitable for

    Horseback

    Permit required

    No

    Location

    Field Guide

    Comments

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