exploring colca valley - south america tours

The Colca Valley is a unique natural wonder in Peru that has so much to discover and see. Dispersed across it are 14 colonial-era villages that date to the sixteenth century and are distinguished mainly by their small; however, usually richly decorated churches.

The Locals of Colca Valley

The Colca Valley’s local population are composed of the descendants of the Cabanas and Collagus, pre-Inca communities who have stayed here for a couple of thousands of years. They locals preserve distinctive traditional dress and ancient customs. They speak various languages and can their hats get them recognized. Cabanas sport sequined and embroidered felt headgear, while the Collagu women put on straw hats that have colored ribbons. Also, Colca villages are celebrated for their vibrant festivals throughout the year. The agricultural terracing of the valley was first cultivated over a thousand of years ago.

exploring colca valley - south america tours 2
From the viewpoint of La Cruz del Cóndor, you can enjoy the stunning sights of Colca Valley. Photo: José Porras.

The Touristic Side of Colca Valley

Travelers now spend more time in the Colca Valley enjoying its unique beauty, outdoor adventure sports opportunities and quite traditional life. However, the main draw is the huge condors you can spot there, being one of the few places where you can still admire these beautiful, endangered species. Other striking features include the Collagua’s archaeological legacy. It is definitely the best place for hiking and camping, for those outdoor enthusiast on their South America tours.

About 26 miles from the town of Chivay, a natural viewing point allows tourists to watch the condors flying around the Ampato and Coropuna volcanoes. Additionally, tourists can admire some area of the canyon which is 4,160 meters deep at its lowest point, making it Peru’s deepest and one of the deepest points in the whole world. The valley’s towns provide traditional food and accommodation as well as stunning handicrafts like carpets, embossed tin decorations, embroidered blouses and skirts that have colorful designs, carved wooden items and candles. Travelers exploring the Colca Valley in Peru will get also get to see different hot springs available for use. Festivals, archeological sites as well as short and long trips are available year round.

Best Time Of The Year To Visit Colca Valley

The Colca Valley is emerald green and lush just following the January to March heavy rains. However, it is mostly dusty and arid the rest of the year. The best time to visit Colca valley is from May through November during, the dry season. The condors can be perfectly spotted from June to September.

exploring colca valley - south america tours
The Colca Valley in Peru is one of the few places where you can spot the legendary Andean condor, a true symbol of South America.

The Colca Canyon

The Colca Valley surrounds the canyon. The flora that makes up Colca canyon is composed of almost 300 various species that many are usually used for fuel or as medicinal treatments, as nutritious food options for both farm and wild animals and for dyeing. Meanwhile, the fauna is quite diverse and extensive including 5 carnivore species, 32 various mammal species, 130 species of bird, rodents, reptiles and amphibians.

The Air Up There

The travel from Arequipa (one of the most important cities of Peru) to the Colca Valley includes impressive road climbs that reach 4,910m at the lookout point of Patapampa. At this altitude, the air is expected to be very thin and breathing can be hard. Chivay sits almost 3,600m of altitude with very cold nights. Travelers on South America tours who have not been in Puno/Lake Titicaca or Cusco must spend one or two days in Arequipa before heading to Colca Valley, so they can prepare to deal with altitude sickness.