Colca Canyon

A Peruvian canyon that runs twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and serves as the home for the Andean Condor.

Colca Canyon Quick Facts:

  • More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon
  • Greatest depth occurs at the Nevado Ampato extinct volcano

Colca Canyon

As Peru’s third most visited tourist destination, the Colca Canyon is truly a beautiful and unique natural wonder with so much to see and discover. Carved from the Colca River in southern Peru, the canyon has a total depth of 3,270 meters (10,725 feet) and is one of the deepest ones throughout the entire world. With this amount of depth, it is in fact over twice as deep as the United State’s Grand Canyon.

The greatest depth of the canyon occurs at Nevado Ampato, an extinct volcano, with a vertical rise of 20,630 feet (6,288 m). The Colca Canyon is home to the Andean Condor which is a frequent attraction for visitors who watch the condors soar through the air hunting for food.

With bright and vibrant colors, the Colca Valley that surrounds the canyon was founded during the Spanish Colonial times and is still inhabited by the people of the Collagua and Cabana cultures. Raising livestock, selling handicrafts and taking care of the land is how they are able to continue to inhabit the valley and still maintain an abundant life.

The flora that makes up the Colca Canyon consists of nearly 300 different species, which many are often used as medicinal or for fuel, dyeing and as nutritious food options for both wild and farm animals in the area. There are various species of all three trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that all grow in abundance throughout most of the year.

The fauna within the Colca Canyon is also very extensive and extremely diverse that includes 32 different mammal species, 5 carnivore species, 130 species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and rodents. The most well known in the area is the majestic Condor (Vultur gryphys), which is also known as the “king of birds. There is also a large population of eagles and hawks within the valley and canyon.

Where is Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon is located in southern Peru within the region of Arequipa, which is the same location of Chivay, the hub of the valley and only 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest from the region capital.

When is the best time to visit Colca Canyon

The climate that is found within the valley and the Colca Canyon is for the most part very cool and dry. During the summer days, the skies are typically clear and somewhat warmer while the nights stay clear but temperatures drop quite drastically. The rains occur from the months of December through April with February being the wettest of them all. After the rains is when the Colca Canyon and Valley tends to be its most colorful with lush green trees and plant species blooming throughout.

What is the best way to see and experience Colca Canyon

With over 120,000 annual visitors, you can rest assured that Colca Canyon is an absolute must-see while spending time in beautiful Peru. The conditions throughout the year make for ideal hikes, treks and explorations throughout the various parts of the canyon and the valley that it resides within.

Scattered throughout the valley are also various hot springs that are available for use and have proven to be an excellent attraction to take advantage of. Archeological sites, festivals, short and long trips are all available year-round and are some of the best ways to experience the Colca Canyon.

No matter what you decide to see, do and explore while there, Colca Canyon will surely provide you with some incredible images, memories and fascinations to look back on for years to come.