The ups and downs of hiking Colca Canyon – literally. 

There were many climbs and descents. I saw the giant condors soar over my head. At the bottom I couldn’t see the top – where I had come from, it sat in the clouds. 

Made friends with a dog, and new people, we christened the dog ‘Amigo banana’. 

There isn’t much you can say about a place like the Colca Canyon. It was inspiring, carving out a place so deep in this earth, for itself, it knows where it belongs. A place that has literally gone with the wind, allowed the flow of the river to change it and create it into something magnificent. 

Now a place this amazing can’t be reached or experienced easily or without effort. First of all you need to catch a bus at 3am (you can go with a tour or easily enough do it on your own through local buses or hitching a ride on one of the tour buses (ask at your hostel)). It’s a 6 or 7 hour journey to  Cabanaconde where you will begin the hike. 

At the top, there are a few look out points worth visiting, just look and be amazed by Mother Earth. 

Start with a solid 2 to 3 hours of down. Look out for rock slides – earthquakes are common and can create huge slides – in places of rock slides go 2 at a time and tread lightly! Depending on the route you take, either turn left or right at the bottom. Look up. Look back the way you came. Look at the river that helped carve away this earth, that contributed to the making of the second deepest canyon in the world…

There are so many options of where you can hike, different routes to take and places to reach. You can get a basic map from the government tourist office in town opposite the cathedral on plaza de armas. 

I won’t say much else about the Canyon, only be prepared for the walk out, drinks lots of water, have good motivating company, or good inspiring music to listen to, eat plenty of high energy snacks, take lots of breaks to enjoy the view…. and good luck. 

There is a word that describes exactly the feeling I had while walking into the Canyon – Numinous. It describes an experience that makes you fearful yet fascinated, awed and attracted – the powerful and personal experience of being overwhelmed and inspired. The depths of the canyon and the cliffs and edges you hike on were both frightening and amazing. This is definitely not a place to skip on your journey to Peru. Who knows, maybe you too can befriend a cool dog who will follow you all the way down, through and out of the magnificent Colca Canyon. 


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