The magnificent Colca Canyon, second deepest in the world, is a stunning sight; a great place to view condors, go hiking and biking, see pre-Inca sites and visit rural villages.
Cruz del Condor in the early morning is the best time and place to see condors as they rise on the thermals that come from the deepest part of the canyon. I was lucky enough to see a total of six adult condors, some very close.
Standing above Colca Canyon, 100km long and the second deepest in the world, you cannot fail to be impressed by its immense size and beauty. Jagged cliffs and terraced plateaus lead down to the Colca River far below, threading its way through the canyon. Condors soar above, adding to the spectacle. This is great hiking and mountain biking country as you enjoy the views and tour archaeological sites and farming villages.
- Volcanoes and terraces: The depth of Colca Canyon is magnified by the towering volcanoes around it. Far from being a stark, rugged environment, much of the canyon is lined with centuries-old agricultural terraces with varying shades of green. The view is a blend of natural and man-made beauty.
- Cruz del Condor: This is the most popular viewing platform and the best place to watch the magnificent Andean condors as they catch and ride the thermals above the valley. Get here in the early morning for the best chances of seeing and photographing them.
- Past & present: People have lived in the Colca Valley from prehistoric times as evidenced by paintings and carvings. The ruins of Uyo Uyo village and ancient crop terraces pre-date the Incas and all benefitted from the land’s fertility. Today there are a dozen or so villages, such as Yanque, with roots dating back several centuries, whose inhabitants farm the land much as their forebears did and where women wear traditional dress.
- Explore: There are many hiking routes in the canyon ranging from easy to challenging and varying in duration including some down to the canyon floor. Mountain biking is possible, though not for the faint-hearted. Take time out to view archaeological sites and visit villages as you explore the canyon and afterwards relax by soaking in natural thermal baths.