Canon de Colca

Colca Travel Blog

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Starting the Colca de Canyon trek in the little town of Cobana Condor

I didnt really know what to expect on our trip to Colca De Canyon. Well, I knew it would be deep, and I knew there would be big birds, but other than that...it was an adventure waiting to be had.

We booked a 3d-2n tour with Land Adventures ($US60), through our hostel (El Caminante Class) in Arequipa and that turned out to be a stroke of genius. We were met at 6:30am by our tour guide Nestor (absolute legend!) and whisked off to the bus station in the back of one of the crazy little taxis. There we jumped on a bus with a combination of locals and a couple of other tour groups, for a 4 hour slog to the a small village called Cabanaconde and the beginning of our trek.

Some of the scenery at the very start of our trek
I think part of the charm of the whole trip was that we used local transport, we slept in local's houses, we ate the same food that the locals ate and Nestor, our guide, actually grew up in the area so he knew it (and the people) like the back of his hand.

Arriving at Cabanaconde, we jumped of the bus and were aquainted with the other members of our group - Mark (Ireland), Daniel (UK) and Gilliam (French Canadian), nice and small, just the way it should be. We walked about 500m to the edge of the canyon where the view was absolutely staggering. 1 km wide and 3 km deep, with a river running through the bottom, the canyon weaved its way through the landscape as far as the eye could see. Along the cliff/hillside on the other side of the canyon were dotted small communities where the land was flat enough to allow building and towering above everything were huge snowcapped peaks.

What you dont see is the sheer 100m drop just under that rock!
...talk about awe-inspiring.

Our mission for the rest of the day was to make it down to the bottom and about half way up the other side to a small village, which we could just make out from our vantage point, where we would sleep for the night. Zig zagging our way down a gravelly track on an almost sheer cliff face we met a constant stream of mule trains and their owners making their way up, loaded with corn and potatoes to sell in Cabancondor. Small children were also making the ascent, returning to Cabanaconde for the start of the school week. It was very humbling, these small children, making a 3 hour vertical climb just to go to school....and they were running it in sandals!! Nestor was constantly pointing out interesting bits of information, basically every type of plant that we came across could be used for something - medicinal, food, flavouring, pigment for creating dyes, insect repellent - who would have thought such damn ugly plants would be so useful??!

We eventually made it to the bottom of the canyon to be treated to a stunning sunset above.

The track down into the Canyon
The unfortunate part was that as soon as the sun goes down it gets dark very quickly, and stupid Westerners who dont bring torches then have to walk in the dark. With three torches amongst us, we eventually made it to our very basic accommodation for the night and treated to yep, you guessed it, soup followed by chicken and rice!!

The next day we were up early and making our way horizontally across the canyon wall to our lunchtime destination which just happened to be an oasis on the river, complete with an awesome pool....just what the doctored ordered!! Following a couple of hours of R&R we were back hiking again and unfortunately in the upwards direction. It took basically 2.5 hours of steady walking to make the top (Gilliam made it in 1 hr 50!!), but it was a bloody good feeling and again the sunset turned it on for us.

The township in the distance was our destination for our first night
Nestor reckoned that his record was 45 minutes and I wouldnt doubt him for a second, as well as being a bush-tucker man come crazy herbal witch doctor dude, he was also a machine!!

That night just happened to be Mothers day (same day as in Australia which is crazy) so Nestor ducked off to see his Mum while we settled in for some more chicken and rice and a good old Bee Gees karoake night on a very old and very small television. Good times. The next day was Condor watching day. Very exciting. We arrived quite early in the morning at a spot in the Canyon where Condors (what is the term for a group of Condors by the way?) can be seen using the updrafts. Well if this wasnt tourist central!! Again nature more than made up for the mass tourism, with these huge birds putting on an absolute show. It was really an amazing sight and a great way to finish of the trip.

Big thumbs up to Nestor and Land Adventure, very tidy work!! A big shout out to the guys on our trip as well, nice meeting you chaps!!

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Starting the Colca de Canyon trek …
Starting the Colca de Canyon trek…
Some of the scenery at the very st…
Some of the scenery at the very s…
What you dont see is the sheer 100…
What you dont see is the sheer 10…
The track down into the Canyon
The track down into the Canyon
The township in the distance was o…
The township in the distance was …
Paradise in the Oasis at the botto…
Paradise in the Oasis at the bott…
Our group. Nice to meet you boys!!
Our group. Nice to meet you boys!!
Winding our way along the cliff fa…
Winding our way along the cliff f…
The morning view at the beginning …
The morning view at the beginning…
Our bathroom :)
Our bathroom :)
The local football field
The local football field
A shop half way up a vertical clif…
A shop half way up a vertical cli…
Anna at the end of our 3hr vertica…
Anna at the end of our 3hr vertic…
Anna, having a little sit back in …
Anna, having a little sit back in…
Condor spotting was definitely a h…
Condor spotting was definitely a …
Another condor!
Another condor!
The colourful ladies selling their…
The colourful ladies selling thei…
Colca
photo by: Sylvie1