COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Depth, Climate; Why you MUST be at the Colca Canyon at 8:00 AM; Where to stay; how to get there on time or miss the Condors....




Colca Canyon Fun Facts

At about 150km away from Arequipa, lies the sleepy town of Chivay, the gateway to the canyon, the second deepest canyon of Peru and supposedly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. But hey, who is counting and how do you compare such fantastic phenomena anyway?


Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places Peru is so famous for. On top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site Lima,  World Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.


 The Guineas Book of Records agreed to a depth of 4,160m, but we find those data misleading as it assumes the measurement taken is from the bottom at Huambo (1,066 m) and the top of the Cabanaconde (6,288m) volcano as far as 24km away. That certainly is stretching it as the Colca river never has carved a canyon through that volcano and therefore shouldn't be considered the rim of the canyon. More realistically is to look at the best overview over the canyon at the South Rim of Cruz del Condor overlook, where most visitor admire this fantastically beautiful canyon, looking down some 1,200m from the rim of the canyon, while the highest part of the Northrim, straight across is about 4,800m, about 2,300m above the river. At that point it actually feels deeper than the Grand canyon, because one looks down a very steep canyon with the much higher North Rim of the Colca Canyon being quite close by. So consider the Colca Canyon as a fantastic must see geological phenomenon, but don't fall for such silly comparison with other fantastic canyons in the world, as each has its own beauty and uniqueness. By the way, "colca" refers to storage spaces which abound in canyon walls, which were ideal for preserving the crops through the winter.


As one passes through the upper Colca Canyon, departing form Chivay, one passes by a landscape of ancient Inca terraces, where farmers still produce there crops of potatoes, corn, quinua, and beans, etc. When consulting the internet, one finds another silly read, that has been copied and re-edited a hundred times, the original referring to the trip from Arequipa to Chivay, listing typical high elevation animals and aquatic birds you will are most unlikely to see in or around the canyon for several reasons, more than anything, the Autocolca autonomous authority is responsible for tourism promotion of the Colca Valley, and seems to have no other interest than to collect your entry fee. What you are likely to see if you get early enough at the Cruz del Condor overlook, is a flight of Andean Condors, Vultur gryphus, taking of, a truly spectacular display. Of course, no guarantee, but with the authority supposedly laying out carryon, the birds frequently take off in the mornings. So, make sure you get to Cruz del Condor latest at 8:00AM.


As Chivay is the port of entry to the valley, most tourists will pass the night there, and many like to soak in La Calera hot springs 3 km from town.


During the summer on the Southern Hemisphere, November - March, the nights are cold and it may actually be freezing a bit at the overlook, so take a sweater and light jacket.


Cruz del Condor

COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Lower overlook. COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: visitors taking snap shots
COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Visitors waiting for the condors to fly up COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: visitors soaking up the morning sun

Solidly and tastefully built, the overlooks provide fantastic views over the canyon.


CColca Canyon, Cruz del Dondor: Andes Condors are the world's largest flying birds.

The Iconic birds of the "Cruz del Condor"overlook, the Andean Condors, are the world's largest flying birds (Picture taken at San Fernando Reserve). They may have wingspans of more than 3 m (10.5 feet) and may weigh as much as 15 kg (33 pounds).

COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Visitor soaking up the landscape. COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Tourists at Cruz del Condor.

Spectators are relaxing in the morning sun, soaking in the spectacular view below.


COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Puya bromeliad flower (Puya weberbaueri). COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Puya bromeliad  (Puya weberbaueri) at Cruz del Condor overlook
COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Puya flower stack  (Puya weberbaueri) at Cruz del Condor overlook. COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Blue lupine flowers at Cruz del Condor

One plant that immediately catches the attention at Cruz del Condor is the Puya bromeliad (Puya weberbaueri), who's flower stacks contrast against the depths of the canyon.

Omni-present in the Andes are the purple-blue lupines. 

COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Orange cactus flower at Cruz del Condor. COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Yellow cactus flower at Cruz del Condor.


Cactuses line the road to the canyon, decorating the sparse vegetation with beautiful white, red and yellow flowers.


COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Vendors at Cruz del Condor. COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Woman selling Indian craft at Cruz del Condor.
COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Women selling their handiwork at Cruz del Condor.

In fact, at the Colca Canyon Cruz del Condor parking  lot at the of the  South Rim, Women sell great handiwork.

COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: Chivay, port of entry to Cruz del Condor.

COLCA CANYON FUN FACTS: La Candera hot springs.

At about 150k from Arequipa one descends to Chivay, along a steep mountain road into the Colca valley.

Many visitors enjoy soaking in the hot springs of La Calera, just outside of Chivay.


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Just look at the quality of our high resolution pictures. We took them all ourselves. We have thousands of high resolution pictures on this website, that you can see enlarged by clicking on them. These pictures show that we have been everywhere in the country of your interest and really know the details. We are professional explorers and biologists with MSc and PhD.


National Parks Tours Worldwide, a social responsibility and conservation company, is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA.


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