Strolling atop the Colca Canyon


You can trek the Colca Canyon in Peru with a guide. It’s easy to join a group from Arequipa and most hikes are 3 days. From the looks of it, it is rugged walking with little water. I’m an outdoorsy type, but that’s simply not in the cards for this “grand tour.” Luckily, our guide arranged an hour stroll along the edge of the canyon.

The parts that are green, you can be sure are irrigated. This is a dry area.
We had a lone condor flying above us during our hike.
I was surprised to see a few blooms on the cactus. The rainy season isn’t until late December. But then I don’t know much about deserts.
This is a great view of a fairly deep section of the canyon, though not the deepest. If you look very closely in the middle of the photo, you can see a walking trail (which shows mostly white) and below it a very small village. There’s no road to this place and it takes about 3 days of hiking to get there. No electricity, either.
The views are so far, but you see little wildlife, and the vegetation is very dry. Across the canyon, the mountains are even higher and are colder. You can just see the white ice at the very top of the range, just to left of center.
In addition to Spanish, Peruvians also speak Quechua (the language of the Incas) and Aymara, a pre-Inca language. One of the most important pre-Inca civilizations were the Wari, and the few people living here are believed to be descended from them.
This is our guide, who was extremely knowledgeable about the area. I have a rather unusual tour, stitched together from a series of existing area tours. That means I was passed off to a new group and tour guide almost daily. It was a bit uncomfortable and I’m not sure I’ll do it again.
That green patch is a small farming community. You can only get there by hiking.
This condor followed us the entire time!
This one is an adult. You can tell because the wings are black and the head is white. Juveniles are mostly brown.
If you go much higher than this, even the cactus won’t grow.
There are many small caves in this area and a few have been investigated. Archeological sites include the caves of Mollepunko above Callalli where rock art (said to be 6,000 years old) depicts the domestication of the alpaca.
This overlook is simply amazing. And it just happens to be directly across from the location where a young man’s body was found, months after he fell to his death in 2001. He was hiking with his girlfriend, and neither had experience nor adequate equipment.
This is a dangerous place and you need to be an expert climber to tackle these mountains. There are many companies that give guided hiking tours, but they are not all reliable. Few do a good job of making sure the participants are properly outfitted for the conditions.

You can just barely see the river below.
It’s deeper than the Grand Canyon, it it looks completely different to me.

Notice the little fence. Most of the area doesn’t even have that much. It would be very easy to fall here.

The obligatory photo to prove I was there.
The “cloud” is the smoke from an erupting volcano. This is no walk in the park!
Don’t Touch!


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I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

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