Vast, magnificent, dizzying, there are few words to describe the awe-inspiring Colca Canyon which sits at the heart of Peru’s southern altiplano, some 4 hours’ drive from Arequipa. Once thought to be the deepest canyon in the world at 3400m before the neighbouring Cotahuasi canyon was found to be some 150m deeper, the Colca Canyon sits at 3700m above sea level and is a truly immense area of gullies, gorges, and pre-Incan terraces dotted with traditional villages.
From Arequipa, the bumpy road winds its way up through the characteristic puna grasslands of the highlands passing abandoned railway stations en route to reach an almost breathless altitude of 4900m at its highest point. Scenery aside, the canyon offers all manner of activities from walking and rafting to lazing in hotsprings yet the main draw of Colca are the condors. Quite simply, the Colca Canyon offers the finest condor spotting in all of the Americas. Each morning, tourists brave the cold and head to the Cruz del Condor viewpoint at the edge of the precipice. As the sun rises, lighting up the landscape, the resident condors which nest on the canyon walls, take flight to ride the thermals generated and circle directly in front of you – truly spectacular!