When someone throws up a claim like ‘The Worlds Deepest Canyon’ and tells you that it’s only going to cost $100USD to go trekking into it for 3 days, you are strangely compelled to jump at the chance. Well we did and the place certainly lived up to it’s name, a;lbiet I didn’t really have the equipment to confirm it’s ‘Deepest in the World’ claim. After our relaxing time in Arequipa we were due to more physical exersion so signed up for the 3day/2night trek into the Colca Canyon. It’s fair to say that the 3am start was horrific, but apparently we needed to get up this early so we could get to Cruz Del Condor and see the condors waking up and riding the thermal winds as the day warmed up. Either way we were on our way, passing over 4,800m, to see the canyon and all it had to offer.
Peru’s Colca Canyon
Ok, the facts. The Colca Canyon, at it’s deepest point, is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon at 4,160m. We didn’t quite get down to that sort of depth, but we did head down around 1,500m and back up again. The 3-day trek was a little more relaxing than our last 5-dayer with only 3-4 hours walking each day. What it lacked in distance it made up for in heat, the place was scorching and didn’t have much shade when we were on the trail. It made getting to camp a welcome relief. We joined up with Ashley and Jess a young British couple who were good value and made the trip a bit of a laugh.
Day 1 – Condors and into the Canyon
It started with an hour or so spent watching the condors ride the thermal winds of the morning. Following that it was a tough walk down into the canyon, the knees took most of the impact all the way down. We all slipped and slid at some stage, Jess was the only one to hit the ground, but dusted off pretty quickly after. A relaxing lunch siesta and late afternoon beer made up the remainder of the day. Going to bed by candlelight capped off the day.
Day 2 – Traverse the Canyon and Swim
The second day of the trip was the easiest. Starting out at a leisurely hour of 8:30am for the 3 hour wander through the canyon to our next accommodation spot. On the way Roy, our guide, taught us plenty about Incan history in the area and all the different uses that the trees and plants were put to. We were given the chance to sample chicha, an ancient Incan beer made from corn. It wasn’t quite Emersons Pilsner and Pachamama (mother earth) got her fair share of our cups as we politely tipped some of it to the ground. The day was scorching, so it was no surprise that we were ecstatic when we found out the next camp had a swimming pool. The pace quickened after the good news and we didn’t hesitate to drop our bags and hit the pool as soon as we arrived. The heat forced us to have another siesta – life is tough on the road. We went to bed with an early wake-up call set, so we could get back up the canyon before the sun crept over the hills.
Day 3 – Up and Out
We were up and ready to go a 5:30am. Roy had said it was about a 3 hour hike out, uphill all the way. We put in a solid effort early on which paid off as we made it to the top of the canyon in 2 hours. Ashley had somewhat blown-out and worn jeans and was trudging his way up, changing into shorts when he reached the top. The guide could not work out his logic but it gave us plenty of good banter material. After the ‘we made it to the top’ photos, a big breakfast ensued at a local restaurant in the nearby village. Coffee and eggs never tasted so good! We started our way back to Arequipa, the van stopped so we could go to some natural hot springs, but us and the Brits decided that sitting by the nearby river with our feet in cold water was more appealing given the heat. We stopped at a couple of token villages on the way back, along with a stop at 5,300m to check out the surrounding peaks.
It was an awesome trip, easier going than the Salkantay and a bit more time for relaxing, but, as the photo’s show, it was just as impressive. We’d been into and out of the deepest canyon in the world, albiet not the deepest part of the deepest canyon. It’s still worth claiming though!
Time was up in Peru, our return to Arequipa saw us packing up the bags and booking a ticket that would take us through to Bolivia. Peru has shown us some amazing natural wonders and given our lungs a good test as well. The highlights were without a doubt the Salkantay and Colca Canyon treks – getting out into nature seems to be one of the best things to do in Peru.