My tips for the Colca Canyon Trek in Peru

The Colca Canyon Trekking is one of the most beautiful hikes in Peru. I’d advice taking at least two days to trek through the deepest canyon in the world. The views along the way will blow your mind and if you’re lucky you can spot the Condor, which is among the largest birds in the world. The best way to explore the canyon is by doing a self guided trek. In this article I’ll give you all my tips and help you prepare transport, the route and where to stay. Here’s is what you need to know for your Colca Canyon Trek!

Colca Canyon Achachiwa Viewpoint

Your base for a Colca Canyon trek: Cabanaconde

Cabanaconde is the perfect place to stay when you’d like to start a trek through the Colca Canyon. It’s a small village from where you can start several treks through the canyon. The best place to stay before starting your trek is Pachamama. The staff there will help you plan your trek and make sure you’re well prepared. You can leave your backpack there and rent walking sticks. They can also arrange transport for you when needed. All the guests are there for trekking, so it’s a greta place to meet other hikers as well.

Day by day plan

Day 1

13:00 Bus from Arequipa to Cabanaconde
19:00 Arrival in Cabanaconde and stay at Pachamama.

Day 2

06:30 Breakfast
07:00 Try to spot Condors at the Cruz del Condor viewpoint
08:30 Start trekking from Cabanaconde naar Llahuar
 (4,5 hours)
13:30 Arrival at Llahuar Lodge
14:00 Relax in the hotsprings (Be aware that in the rainy season the river floods the hot springs, so you can only do this in the dry season)

If you are short on time like we were you can arrange to be picked up by taxi from Llahuar. We arranged for the taxi to pick us up around 16:00. This way you could enjoy the hot springs before heading back. The taxi cost 220 soles. We stayed in Cabanaconde one more night before heading back to Arequipa in the morning. 

Day 3
06:00 Breakfast
06:30 Hike from Llahuar to Sangalle (4,5 hours)
12:30 Arrive in Sangalle – stay overnight at Paraiso Las Palmeras
16:00 Aankomst Arequipa. Je kunt ervoor kiezen om te chillen en eten in de stad en daarna de nachtbus te pakken naar Cusco.

Dag 4
05:00 Breakfast
05:30 Start hiking early from Sangalle to Cabanaconde (4,5 hours)
10:30 Arrive in Cabanaconde and pick up stuff at Pachamama
11:30 or 13:30: Take the bus back to Arequipa.

My Experience Hiking to Llahuar

We got up early to start our trek in the Colca Canyon. The evening before starting our trek, the owner of Pachamama explained everything we needed to know and gave us their self made guide. We had a nice breakfast and started walking towards the first viewpoint: Achachiwa viewpoint. This is only the start, but it’s one of the most impressive views of the canyon, so take some time to take it all in.

From the viewpoint you continue along a flat part for a short while, before starting your descent of 1200 meters down to the river. The views along the way are stunning! We barely saw any other people and because it was the end of the rainy season, the whole canyon was green. Since the path was mostly downhill, so it wasn’t too intense, but after a while the long downhill was wearing us down a little bit.

After 4,5 hours of hiking we arrived at Llahuar lodge. The first thing we did was order some drinks and lunch. However, we had read about the hot springs, so we were excited to take a dip. Since we weren’t sleeping in de lodge we had to pay to enter the hot springs, which we were happy to do. After paying and walking down to the hot springs we realized the springs had disappeared into the river. Because of all the rain the springs were flooded. There were just some dirty pools on the terrace on the side. Safe to say we were a little disappointed. So keep this in mind if you go in rainy season!

After the deception of the hot springs we walked to the bridge where we would be picked up by the taxi driver from Pachamama. The drive back is long and winding and slightly scary at times, but we made it back safely. The taxi ride was 220 soles. If you’re lucky you can share the price with some other travelers.

What to pack for your Colca Canyon Trek

During the trek, you’ll only take a daypack. You can leave your luggage at your hostel or hotel in Cabanaconde. So what do you take with you?

  • Daypack
  • Camera and phone
  • powerbank
  • Clothing. Make sure to bring layers! Its hot during the day and it cools down a lot in the evenings.
  • Swimwear
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Two liters of water each
  • Small microfiber towel
  • Headlamp
  • Snacks
  • Cash

Spotting Condors at the Cruz del condor viewpoint

This viewpoint is one of the few places in the world where you can see some of the only 300 wild condors that still exist. These spectacular birds can have a wingspan up to 3 meters and here they float through the canyon. What’s so unique about this spot is that you can get quite close to them! The best time to go is early in the morning. You have a good chance of seeing them, although they do not show themselves every day anymore and their population is shrinking. At Pachamama, the hostel most people choose to stay at, you can organize a taxi to take you to the viewpoint. The taxi costs 150 soles for 4 people. Often you’ll be able to share the taxi with other travelers.

We got extremely lucky and saw about 20 condors flying around and a couple of times they flew impressively close.

How to get there?

Arequipa to Cabanaconde: There are 2 bus companies traveling to Cabanaconde and these are their schedules departures: 01:00am Andalucia/ 04:30 Transandino / 12:30 Transandino / 13:30 Andalucia

Cabanaconde back to Arequipa: 06:30am Andalucia / 09:30 am Andalucia /11:30 Transandino / 13:30 Andalucia / 22:30 Transandino

Places to Stay during your Colca Canyon Trek

As mentioned before, the best place to stay in Cabanaconde is Pachamama. The most well known place in Llahuar is Llahuar lodge and for Sangalle its Paraiso Las Palmeras.