Colca Canyon Trek

After 4 days of bum­ming around Are­quipa, Tim and I decided it was time to go on a lit­tle adven­ture to the Colca Canyon.  We toyed with the idea of going solo, but ulti­mately ended up book­ing a 3 day, 2 night tour through our hostel.


It all began at an unfor­giv­ably early hour (3:00 am) when a van picked us up from the hos­tel.  For the next few hours we dozed in and out of sleep won­der­ing what was in store for us.  At about 7:00 am we pulled into a small town and our guide Rafael brought us to a restau­rant for some break­fast.  We met the 3 other peo­ple par­tak­ing in the tour.  Two of them were from Spain and one from Argentina.  This was great news as it meant that we were going to get to prac­tice our Span­ish for the next few days.


Our next stop was at Cruz del Con­dor, a pop­u­lar look­out point to see con­dors.  We were lucky as there were quite a few fly­ing around. Appar­ently there hadn’t been any in the last cou­ple days.  The views of the canyon were beyond breath­tak­ing.  We were only a short dis­tance from were the trekking was about to begin.



The first day of trekking was basi­cally all down­hill.  We hiked down for about four hours, stop­ping along the way while Rafael taught us about the canyon, the vil­lages, as well as day to day life.  As we were approach­ing the water flow­ing at the bot­tom, it hit me how deep into the canyon we were.  I slipped and fell once on the path, but no real harm done.  Around lunchtime we arrived into the small vil­lage of San Juan de Chu­cho.   We had a deli­cious lunch (alpaca meat), din­ner, and break­fast pre­pared for us.  Since there was no elec­tric­ity there, every­thing was cooked over a fire by the lodge own­ers.   We all hung out and shared sto­ries all the while enjoy­ing pris­tine moun­tain views.  By 8 pm we were ready for bed after a long day.


Day two was the eas­i­est of the three days.  We left at 8:30 am and set off on a jour­ney through the canyon for about 3–4 hours.  We hiked up to another vil­lage, pop­u­la­tion 35, and then back down to the bot­tom.  As the after­noon heat was com­ing in we were start­ing to get pretty hot.  Luck­ily for us, we were headed to an “oasis” at the bot­tom of the canyon.  Our hard work was about to be rewarded with a lovely pool that we could see as we were hik­ing down.  Before we made it down, Rafael pointed out a really steep zig-zaggy path across the canyon.  This was the path we were going to take the next day.  Uh Oh, I thought, there’s no way I can climb up that moun­tain.  But that was tomorrow’s prob­lem; I tried to avoid think­ing about it.




The lodge we stayed at was beau­ti­ful.  It really did seem like an oasis.  Pris­tine palm trees and a spring water pool with a rugged moun­tain back­drop, we were def­i­nitely in heaven.  We had lunch and din­ner here, and then once again hung around the prop­erty and relaxed until bed time.

When I voiced my con­cern about the climb back up, I was told that mules can be rented to take you back up for about $25 CAD.  “No, yo quiero cam­i­nar”.   I regret­ted those words the entire fol­low­ing day.  We left the lodge at 5 am and started the stren­u­ous hike back to the top of the canyon.  For the next 3 hours and 45 min­utes it was noth­ing but uphill.  I had to stop and catch my breath every cou­ple of min­utes as the alti­tude made it even more dif­fi­cult.  The one con­so­la­tion was that the views were mag­nif­i­cent. The last 20 min­utes we’re the most dif­fi­cult, but I could see the rest of the group sit­ting at the top cheer­ing me on.  If I wasn’t so dehy­drated and phys­i­cally drained, I likely would have cried tears of joy when I finally arrived to the top.  I was filled with an over­whelm­ing sense of accom­plish­ment. I had just climbed up 1500 meters, and all before even hav­ing a cup of coffee.


On the way back to Are­quipa we stopped along the way to enjoy a cou­ple more impres­sive views.  After lunch we went to a nat­ural hot spring and soaked our sore mus­cles for half an hour.  I’m sure that if I hadn’t done that I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been able to walk today.  We con­tin­ued on our way see­ing fields full of lla­mas, alpacas, and even wild vicu­nas.  At our high­est point in the drive we reached an alti­tude of 5000 meters and the air felt pretty thin. Two hours later, we pulled into the city cen­ter, said our good­byes and went off in our respec­tive direc­tions.  It was time for me to go pass out in my bed and reflect upon the 3 amaz­ing days I had just experienced.





15 thoughts on “Colca Canyon Trek

  1. Bill

    Of all your adven­tures to date, this one seems to be the most cap­ti­vat­ing. The pho­tos are amaz­ing and the com­men­tary is very much appre­ci­ated. We espe­cially liked the story of the last day when the mules were rejected for foot travel. How­ever, I am not sure how com­fort­able the mule would have been. Not to men­tion the life long ques­tion of: Could I have made it if I had walked?

    The whole trip is impres­sive. This is outstanding!

  2. Christina

    What beau­ti­ful scenery and pic­tures! Peru looks amaz­ing! Helene you look so pretty in your colour­ful dress with the lovely back­ground. I’m super jeal­ous of your awe­some tan! :) Wish I was there too :(

  3. Cyril

    It’s like I don’t even have to go any­more — I can just vic­ar­i­ously trek through the Colca Canyon because the pic­tures make it feel just like being there. Except for the Pisco sours, and the llama action.

    1. Tim Fisher

      Maybe walk up and down Mount Royal 15–20 times, and then run up and down another 2 more times. You want to make sure your mus­cles hurt when you’re liv­ing vic­ar­i­ously through the blog.

  4. Ada

    Hello Helen and Tim!!! I see that you are spend­ing a nice time in South Amer­ica. When are you finally com­ing to Europe? I hope that we can make some time to see each other.

    Besos desde Alemania!!!


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