The Climb of The Deepest Canyon In The World!!!

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 23, 2011

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Where I stayed
San Jaun and Sangalle (The Paradise)

Flag of Peru  , Arequipa,
Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hello from the World's Deepest and Biggest Canyon: The Colca Canyon of Peru

We started our hike with a 3.30am pick-up from our hostel in Arequipa. We then made the 2 hour journey to Chivay for breakfast, before driving to Cruz Del Condor. Here is a great place to spot the famous and ever decreasing number of Condors, a huge bird that is part of the hawk family. They glide using the heat thermals of the canyon searching for food and practically showing off for the large number of tourists that watch from the cliff edge. We were very lucky to see not only one but four Condors, as 10 minutes after our arrival they all disappeared. After this we drove to our starting point Cabanaconde. From here we would be trekking for 3 days across, down and up the largest canyon in the World.

The Colca Canon is 3352m deep, making it twice as deep as the famous Gran Canyon of Las Vegas, USA. On our journey we would visit villages and experience deep canyon life, and seeing the tradition embroidered clothing and hats of the local women that differ according to village. During our trek we would descend 1000m down, then 5 miles across, and then finally 1000m back up the canyon side. We were looking at this as a warm up for the Inca trail which will be less than 3 days away after we have completed this trek.

Our 1st day consisted of descending 1000m down the canyon to reach a small village called San Juan. The track was very hard to hike down as it was very gravelly and one slip would mean us falling down the side of the canyon to the rocky pit below....bye bye Hollie and Thomas!!! After 2 hours 30 minutes we reached the bridge that lead us to the village, feeling quite exhausted from both the afternoon heat and altitude. Here was a great opportunity to cool our feet down and take a dip in the crystal clear water of the river. It was a lot colder than expected as the river flowed from the melting glaciers higher up in the canyon valley.

From the bridge it was only a further 20 minutes to the village where we would be staying. Our guide cooked us lunch (corn soup for starter and baby alpaca with rice and chips for main) before we had a hot shower that was heated by two solar panels. While we waited for dinner we got to know the people we were trekking with. Tom and Tina were a very nice couple from Belgium, Megan from Australia who had been traveling for 10 months and 2 elderly German sisters (hello guys if you are reading this). The German ladies had struggled with the 1st day ordeals but insisted that their brother who was "only" 5 years younger than them had done the trek 5 years ago and that they should be able to do it... so technically they were 10 years too late!!!!

After dinner (about 8pm) we were very tired and after hearing that we had to get up at 5am we decided to hit the pillow. Our accommodation consisted of a simple shed like room with pebble flooring, lots of bright pink flowery decor and only a candle acting as a light (no electricity here).

The next day was an easy morning trek across the canyon side to reach the Oasis Paradise of Sangalle. The German ladies decided to leave 30 minutes before us in an effort to prevent them from keeping us behind with their slowness. The guide arranged to meet them at the top of the second village, but when we got there their was no sign of them....where could they be? Our guide decided that he had to search for them and ran back down the valley-side. An hour had past and there was no sign of the two German sisters or our guide. Our guide finally appeared very tired as he reached the top of the village, for the a third time! He had found the German ladies back at camp. Ironically, despite the German sisters insisting to travel alone as they did not want to keep us behind, we had to wait two hours as they got lost. They were now making their way up the valley side to reach the top of the village with us.

Once they had joined the rest of our group they explained that after 30 minutes of walking they had decided to turn back and head back to where we had stayed the night before because they were were lost. The stupid thing was that they decided not to take the same way back and to follow the river back to the village. Because of this we had crossed and missed them whilst we were heading the "correct" way.

After a further 2 hours walking we reached the beautiful and idyllic setting of Sangalle, an oasis nicknamed the Paradise. This was a brightly green patch of land that was situated right at the bottom of the Canyon alongside the river. Here we had a swimming pool (supplied by the river) to cool down in before the night's chill set in. Above, the moon and stars were bright; so bright that they keep us up as we slept in our bamboo roofed cabana (again no electricity so we were in bed by 9pm).

The next morning I acted as a human alarm clock again and woke everybody up at 4.45am, before starting the predicted 3 hour hike back up the 1000m high canyon side. It was necessary to start this early so we could walk in the cool shadow of the rising sun, as walking in the beating heat of the mid-day sun would be nothing else but suicidal. After a very hard and never ending 90 minutes we could see the top of the canyon, represented by 3 minute trees. In an effort to reach the top in a very good time we pushed on without taking many breaks, and at many times running up the steep slope (Thomas not me!). Finally we reached the top in 2 hours exactly!!! We were very proud of ourselves and knew that this was good practice for the Inca Trial.

We then walked back to Cabanaconde (the town we had started in 2 days ago) to have breakfast. From here our mini-bus took us to a group of natural hot-springs. This was a great way to release the aches and pains gathered over the last 2 days. There was nothing better than laying in these 39 degree pools with a cold beer and the sun shining. Unfortunately we were only given an hour in the pools before reluctantly getting out for our buffet lunch. After eating as much food as humanly possible we got back on the bus and made our way back to Arequipa. On the way we passed the high plateau of the canyon, here there were views of the surrounding volcanoes, one being Volcan Chanani which is 6,075 metres high. At this high altitude it was very hard to breathe as the air was so thin and it was so cold.

Once we arrived back in Arequipa we stayed another cosy night in Arequipays Backpackers House before getting an overnight bus to Cuzco the next evening.

Thats all for now,

Lots of love from a very tired Thomas and Hollie x x x
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nan and grandad on

hi kids it looks as if you are having a great time the photos are fantastic wish we with you

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