South America Days 37-38: Colca Canyon
Located a few hours northwest of Arequipa, the Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and one of the most popular travel destinations in Peru.
I signed up for the two day Colca Canyon trek. We were picked up at 4am from our hostel and after a few hours of driving we had breakfast and arrived at the Canyon at around 9am.
For our first stop, we arrived at a viewpoint to watch the Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world with a wingspan of over 3m. These Condors rarely flap their wings, instead relying on thermals generated from the canyon to ascend.
Afterwards, the hike begins. In three hours, we hiked down the nearly kilometre deep canyon, the sun beating down on us like an oven. After three hours, we reached our lunch spot just past noon.
After an hour long lunch break, we had another four hours of hiking to do. An hour into this portion, my legs started to cramp up, the pain was excruciating. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to continue the trek. Luckily, our guide, Juan Carlos, had some icy-hot muscle cream that provided instant relief.
At 6pm, we reached our destination. A cozy little rest stop located at the base of the canyon. There we relaxed, recovered, ate some dinner, and watched the stars.
I’ve heard from many others including our guide that today was going to be a difficult day. As we’re at the bottom of the canyon we’ll need to climb our way up. Today, was going to be all uphill at a 1000m ascent. We left camp at 330am to beat the afternoon heat.
After 4 hours of hiking entirely uphill, our group finally made it. I was concerned that my legs would cramp up like yesterday but thankfully they didn’t. This time around I made sure to drink plenty of water and gatorade, and eat some potassium and sugar.
After a quick celebration at the top of the Canyon, we had our victory breakfast, spent some time at a hot spring, and had a buffet for lunch, capping off an awesome trek.
In retrospect, the Colca Canyon is one of my highlights from my Peru trip up until this point. This was one of the hardest things I’ve done physically in recent memory but the camaraderie and the beautiful scenery made it all worth it.