Colca Canyon is Peru’s third most-visited tourist destination. It can be easily reached by air or land from the colonial “White City” of Arequipa.
The ride from Arequipa to Cruz del Condor inside Colca Canyon takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, including stops. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and it’s where you will get the opportunity to spot the incredible Andean condor.
The Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world. It is an enormous black vulture with a maximum wingspan of 3.3 m or 10 ft. 10 in. Not only does it have an impressive wingspan but it is also one of the longest living birds in the world. In fact, the Inca’s believed they were immortal. And the Andean civilizations have believed that the bird has medicinal powers in its organs and bones. For this reason, it has long been portrayed as a symbol of power, freedom, and health.
With its primary feathers bent upwards at the tips, the condor soars with its wings held horizontally. Watching this enormous bird in flight is breathtaking, making it a source of inspiration for ancient cave paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and local art.
To witness these magnificent creatures soar through the skies is one of the main reason why people make the journey to Peru’s Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world for its depth of 10,725 ft or 3,270 m.
The best time to spot the condors is during the Peruvian dry season which runs from June to August. The condors usually make an appearance in the early mornings. And if you’re not fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of them, you won’t be disappointed in the mesmerizing scenery that Colca Canyon has to offer.
The most popular mode of transport to the Colca Canyon is by private tour. A trip to Colca Canyon ranges from 1- to 3-day trips. There’s so much scenery to take in and appreciate, and many people feel rushed by the 1-day trip, regretting not booking a longer trip. A typical 2-day trip will take you to the Cruz del Condor early on the second day. With luck, you’ll see the magnificent condor soaring gracefully overhead. The condors are particularly active a little after 9 am because this is the time they hunt.
On your trip, remember to bring sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat to protect you from sun damage and the glare of the sun as you look up should a condor be above you. As there are many hiking trails, you’ll want to wear good hiking boots. And because you hope to see the majestic Andean Condor and admire the landscapes, be prepared and bring a camera and binoculars.
Do bear in mind that you’re visiting a high-altitude destination. It is recommended that you allow yourself to acclimate to the altitude. When you arrive in Arequipa , it’s best that you spend a day to rest before heading on the treks.
To venture to Colca Canyon to see the condor is in its natural habitat is a spectacular experience. Make sure to take plenty of photos and videos!