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How To Pick Your Colca Canyon Route


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Hyacinth Cargill



When it comes to natural wonders in Peru, the Colca Canyon is a must-visit destination. Located in the southern part of the country, this canyon is one of the deepest in the world, reaching a depth of over 3,270 meters (10,725 feet). Not only is it a geological marvel, but it is also home to diverse flora and fauna, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant local communities.


Choosing the right route to explore the Colca Canyon is crucial to ensure an unforgettable experience. With several options available, each offering its own unique attractions, it can be challenging to decide which one to embark on. In this article, we will explore the different routes and provide you with insights to help you make an informed decision.


Before delving into the specific routes, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, the duration of your trek is an important consideration. Some routes can be completed in a day, while others require multiple days of hiking and camping. Secondly, your fitness level should be taken into account. Some routes are more challenging and require a higher level of physical endurance. Additionally, the level of solitude and interaction with local communities is another factor to consider, as some routes are more remote and less frequented by tourists.


Now, let’s dive into the different routes and discover the wonders that await you in the Colca Canyon.


Factors to Consider Before Choosing Your Colca Canyon Route

Before embarking on your adventure through the Colca Canyon, there are a few key factors to take into consideration. These factors will help guide you in choosing the ideal route that suits your preferences and abilities. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Duration: How much time do you have available for your Colca Canyon trek? Some routes can be completed in a single day, while others require multiple days of hiking and camping. Consider how much time you are willing to spend exploring the canyon before making a decision.
  2. Physical Fitness: Assess your physical fitness level honestly. The Colca Canyon offers routes that cater to different fitness levels. Some routes involve steep ascents and descents and require a good level of endurance, while others are more leisurely. Choose a route that aligns with your fitness capabilities.
  3. Solitude vs. Crowds: Do you prefer a more secluded experience or are you comfortable with larger crowds? Some routes are more popular among tourists and can get quite crowded, especially during peak travel seasons. If you desire a quieter trek, consider opting for a less frequented route.
  4. Interaction with Local Communities: Are you interested in connecting with the local communities and learning about their way of life? Some routes take you through small villages where you can interact with locals and gain insights into their traditions and customs.
  5. Scenic Landscapes: What type of landscapes are you most drawn to? The Colca Canyon offers a variety of breathtaking views, including lush valleys, towering cliffs, and picturesque terraced fields. Determine the type of scenery you would like to immerse yourself in and choose a route that showcases those landscapes.

By considering these factors, you will be able to narrow down your options and choose a Colca Canyon route that aligns with your preferences and expectations. Now, let’s explore the different routes and their unique attractions in more detail.


Route 1: Cabanaconde to Llahuar

If you’re looking for a challenging and off-the-beaten-path trek, the route from Cabanaconde to Llahuar is ideal. This route takes you deep into the heart of the Colca Canyon, offering stunning views and a unique cultural experience.


The trek begins in the town of Cabanaconde, which serves as the starting point for many Colca Canyon routes. From there, you’ll descend into the canyon, navigating steep trails and rugged terrain. The descent can be challenging, but the reward is well worth it.


As you make your way down, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the canyon’s towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls. The trail follows the course of the Colca River, leading you to the small village of Llahuar.


Llahuar is a secluded oasis nestled at the bottom of the canyon. Here, you can relax and rejuvenate in the soothing hot springs, surrounded by the natural beauty of the canyon. The village is also home to a local community, where you can learn about their traditional way of life and interact with the friendly locals.


For those looking to extend their trek, it is possible to continue on from Llahuar to Sangalle, also known as the Oasis. This adds an extra day to your journey, but the Oasis is a true hidden gem. With its lush vegetation, refreshing pools, and comfortable accommodation options, it provides a serene retreat in the midst of the canyon.


It’s important to note that this route is physically demanding and requires a good level of fitness. The steep ascent back up to Cabanaconde can be challenging, so be sure to prepare properly and take your time.


If you’re up for an adventure and want to experience the raw beauty of the Colca Canyon, the Cabanaconde to Llahuar route is a great choice. Get ready to immerse yourself in stunning landscapes and connect with the local culture for a truly unforgettable trekking experience.


Route 2: Cabanaconde to Cruz del Condor

If you’re looking for a relatively easier and more accessible route in the Colca Canyon, the trek from Cabanaconde to Cruz del Condor is an excellent choice. This route offers breathtaking views, wildlife sightings, and the opportunity to witness the majestic Andean condors in flight.


The journey begins in Cabanaconde, a small town perched on the edge of the canyon. From there, you’ll descend into the canyon along a well-marked trail. The initial descent can be steep, but it gradually levels out as you approach the village of San Juan de Chuccho.


As you hike through the canyon, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the dramatic cliffs and vibrant terraced fields that characterize this region. The trail also passes through small traditional villages, where you can catch a glimpse of the local way of life and interact with the friendly residents.


The highlight of this route is the Cruz del Condor viewpoint. Located near the town of Cabanaconde, it offers an unparalleled vantage point to observe the Andean condors in their natural habitat. These magnificent birds, with their impressive wingspans, gracefully soar above the canyon, providing a truly awe-inspiring sight.


The best time to visit Cruz del Condor is in the early morning, as this is when the condors are most active. You can witness their impressive flight patterns and see them up close as they glide just inches away from the observation deck.


After enjoying the condor spectacle, you have the option to either hike back to Cabanaconde or continue on to other villages in the area. This route can be completed in a day, making it a perfect choice for those with limited time.


The Cabanaconde to Cruz del Condor route is less physically demanding compared to other routes, making it suitable for a wide range of fitness levels. However, it’s still important to come prepared with proper hiking gear, sun protection, and plenty of water.


Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the majestic Andean condors and explore the stunning beauty of the Colca Canyon on this unforgettable trek from Cabanaconde to Cruz del Condor.


Route 3: Cabanaconde to Tapay

If you’re seeking a less crowded and more authentic experience in the Colca Canyon, the Cabanaconde to Tapay route is perfect for you. This scenic trek takes you through picturesque landscapes, remote villages, and offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.


Your journey begins in the charming town of Cabanaconde, located on the rim of the Colca Canyon. From here, you’ll descend into the canyon, following well-marked trails that wind through the breathtaking scenery. The initial descent is steep, but as you make your way deeper into the canyon, the path becomes more moderate.


As you hike through the canyon, you’ll pass by terraced fields, traditional farming communities, and stunning viewpoints. The views are simply awe-inspiring, with towering cliffs, lush green valleys, and the glistening Colca River meandering through the landscape.


One of the highlights of this route is the village of Tapay. This small, traditional Andean village is nestled in the heart of the canyon and offers a glimpse into the daily life of the local inhabitants. Take the time to interact with the locals, learn about their customs, and perhaps even try some traditional Peruvian cuisine.


If you have the opportunity to spend the night in Tapay, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the starry night sky. Away from the city lights, the night sky in the Colca Canyon is a sight to behold, with countless stars illuminating the darkness.


When you’re ready to head back to Cabanaconde, you can either retrace your steps or take an alternative route that passes through the village of San Miguel. This longer option allows you to explore more of the canyon and adds a touch of adventure to your trek.


The Cabanaconde to Tapay route is moderately challenging, suitable for those with a reasonable level of fitness. Be sure to come prepared with appropriate hiking gear, plenty of water, and snacks to keep your energy levels up.


Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and local culture of the Colca Canyon by embarking on the Cabanaconde to Tapay trek. With its stunning landscapes and authentic experiences, this route promises to create lasting memories of your time in this remarkable destination.


Route 4: Cabanaconde to Sangalle (Oasis)

If you’re looking for a unique and refreshing experience in the Colca Canyon, the Cabanaconde to Sangalle route, also known as the Oasis route, is the perfect choice. This trek takes you to the stunning oasis nestled within the canyon, offering a lush and picturesque setting.


The journey starts in Cabanaconde, a quaint town perched on the edge of the canyon. From there, you’ll descend into the canyon, following the well-marked trail that winds its way down steep slopes and through rocky terrain. As you make your way down, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and the distant Colca River.


After a challenging descent, you’ll arrive at Sangalle, a hidden paradise within the Colca Canyon. This oasis is a lush valley filled with palm trees, vibrant flowers, and natural pools. The contrast of the greenery against the backdrop of the arid canyon is a sight to behold.


Here, you can relax and unwind in the refreshing pools, enjoying the tranquility of nature. Take a dip to cool off from the warm desert sun or simply lounge by the poolside, taking in the serene ambiance. In the evening, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking display of stars in the clear night sky.


The Oasis also offers comfortable accommodations, allowing you to spend the night surrounded by the beauty of the canyon. You can choose to camp or stay in one of the cozy lodges, providing a unique and memorable experience.


The next morning, it’s time to make the challenging ascent back to Cabanaconde. The steep hike can be demanding, but the sense of accomplishment and the awe-inspiring views along the way make it all worthwhile.


It’s important to come prepared for this trek with proper hiking gear, including sturdy footwear and plenty of water. Additionally, be mindful of the weather conditions, as the temperatures can vary significantly between day and night in the canyon.


The Cabanaconde to Sangalle route is a moderate to challenging trek that offers a rewarding and refreshing experience. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the oasis and let the serenity of the surroundings rejuvenate your spirit.


Route 5: Arequipa to Chivay

If you’re looking for a convenient way to experience the beauty of the Colca Canyon without embarking on a multi-day trek, the route from Arequipa to Chivay is an excellent option. This route allows you to explore the canyon by road, offering stunning views and cultural insights along the way.


The journey begins in the charming city of Arequipa, known as the “White City” due to its colonial architecture and white volcanic stone buildings. From Arequipa, you’ll embark on a scenic drive to Chivay, the gateway town to the Colca Canyon.


The road from Arequipa to Chivay winds through picturesque landscapes, taking you through traditional Andean villages and offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for grazing llamas and alpacas, as well as bird species that frequent the area.


As you approach Chivay, the road leads you along the edge of the Colca Canyon, allowing you to marvel at the sheer depth and grandeur of this natural wonder. You’ll have the opportunity to make stops at various viewpoints, offering breathtaking vistas of the canyon and the terraced fields carved into its walls.


Once you arrive in Chivay, take some time to explore the town and its charming main square. You can also visit the nearby hot springs to relax and soak in the therapeutic waters. If you have more time, consider extending your stay in Chivay to explore the nearby villages and experience traditional cultural performances.


If you’re looking to further explore the Colca Canyon, there are options to continue from Chivay to other destinations within the canyon, such as the Cruz del Condor viewpoint or even trekking routes for the more adventurous.


The Arequipa to Chivay route provides a convenient and accessible way to experience the beauty of the Colca Canyon. This road trip allows you to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, learn about the local culture, and capture unforgettable memories without the need for extensive hiking.


Make sure to plan your trip accordingly and check the road conditions, as well as any necessary permits or regulations for visiting specific viewpoints or attractions along the way. With proper planning, your journey from Arequipa to Chivay will be a memorable adventure through the stunning landscapes of the Colca Canyon.



The Colca Canyon offers a myriad of routes for travelers to explore, each with its own unique attractions and experiences. Whether you’re an avid trekker or prefer a more leisurely journey, there is a route in the Colca Canyon to suit your preferences and abilities.


Before choosing your route, consider factors such as duration, physical fitness, solitude vs. crowds, interaction with local communities, and the type of landscapes you’re most interested in. These considerations will help you select the perfect route that aligns with your preferences and expectations.


If you’re seeking a challenging and adventurous trek, the Cabanaconde to Llahuar route is an excellent choice. It combines breathtaking views, steep trails, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a remote village within the canyon.


For a more easily accessible and wildlife-focused experience, consider the Cabanaconde to Cruz del Condor route. Witness the majestic Andean condors in flight and enjoy the stunning views of the canyon along the way.


If you’re looking for an authentic cultural experience, the Cabanaconde to Tapay route is perfect. Immerse yourself in the local way of life, interact with friendly villagers, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the canyon.


For a unique and refreshing adventure, the Cabanaconde to Sangalle route, also known as the Oasis route, takes you to a picturesque oasis within the canyon. Enjoy rejuvenating swims in natural pools amidst the lush greenery.


If you prefer a road trip experience, the route from Arequipa to Chivay allows you to enjoy stunning views of the canyon’s landscapes from the comfort of a vehicle. Explore traditional Andean villages and soak in the hot springs along the way.


Whichever route you choose, be sure to come well-prepared with proper hiking gear, sufficient water, and a spirit of adventure. Respect the natural environment and local communities you encounter along the way, leaving only footprints and lasting memories.


The Colca Canyon offers a truly awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience. Choose your route, venture into this natural wonder, and immerse yourself in the beauty, culture, and adventure that awaits you in Peru’s Colca Canyon.