22 incredible things to do in Colca Canyon Peru

Here are the best things to do in Colca Canyon Peru with information on how to get there, entrance fees, tour prices, and more!

Colca Canyon Peru is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, deep cultural heritage, and unique wildlife. It’s one of the deepest canyons in the world, offering stunning views, towering cliffs, and a rich ecosystem that includes the majestic Andean condor.

The things to do in Colca Canyon Peru are suitable for all types of travelers, from adventure enthusiasts to those seeking cultural immersion. Some popular activities include trekking, hiking, bird-watching, hot springs, community engagement, mule riding, photography, and more!

The cost of things to do in Colca Canyon Peru can vary widely, catering to both budget-conscious travelers and those looking for more luxurious experiences.

Many of the natural attractions, such as hiking in the canyon or visiting viewpoints, can be done independently with minimal costs related to transportation or small entrance fees for specific sites.

Here are the best things to do in Colca Canyon Peru with information on how to get there, entrance fees, tour prices, and more!

1. Hike to the bottom of Colca Canyon Peru and stay overnight in one of the remote villages

One of the most immersive things to do in Colca Canyon Peru, is to hike to the bottom of the canyon and stay overnight in one of its remote villages.

This experience allows travelers to deeply connect with the natural beauty and tranquility of the canyon, far removed from the usual tourist paths. The hike itself presents a challenging yet rewarding journey through some of Peru’s most stunning landscapes.

To access this adventure, no specific entrance fees are required for the hike, but accommodations in the villages might charge a nominal fee for lodging. The trek usually starts from the town of Cabanaconde, which can be reached by bus from Arequipa.

The opportunity to stay in a remote village offers a unique chance to experience the traditional lifestyle of the canyon’s inhabitants, making it a truly memorable part of visiting Colca Canyon Peru.

⛺ Pack light but include warm clothing for the night, as temperatures can drop significantly. Engage with the local community by sharing a meal or a conversation, as this will enhance your experience and offer insights into their way of life.

2. Visit the Cruz del Condor Viewpoint to see Andean Condors

Visiting the Cruz del Condor viewpoint early in the morning is among the top things to do in Colca Canyon Peru, to witness the majestic flight of Andean condors.

This spot offers breathtaking views of the canyon while providing one of the best opportunities to see these magnificent birds soar on thermal currents.

There is no entrance fee to visit Cruz del Condor, and it’s easily accessible by bus from nearby towns like Chivay and Cabanaconde. Public transportation options are available, but joining a tour is more convenient.

Arriving early, around sunrise, is crucial as this is when the condors are most active, and the viewpoint can become crowded with tourists as the morning progresses.

The sight of Andean condors gliding against the backdrop of Colca Canyon’s vastness is truly awe-inspiring and a must-see for nature lovers! It symbolizes the natural heritage and ecological significance of the region.

🔭 Bring a good pair of binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens to capture detailed images of the condors, especially since they can fly at varying distances from the viewpoint.

3. Take a guided tour of the Uyo Uyo Archaeological Site

Photo: Panegyrics of Granovetter

The Uyo Uyo Archaeological Site is one of the most essential things to do in Colca Canyon Peru, for history enthusiasts.

This ancient pre-Inca settlement offers insights into the lives of the canyon’s earliest inhabitants, showcasing ruins of dwellings, ceremonial centers, and terraced fields that paint a picture of a sophisticated society.

Entrance to the site is usually included in a small fee that also covers maintenance and preservation efforts. The site is most easily accessed from the town of Yanque, where you can either hike or take a short taxi ride to the entrance.

Guided tours are available, providing valuable context and interpretations of the site’s history and significance. It’s advisable to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water, as exploring the ruins involves a fair amount of walking.

Visiting Uyo Uyo is worth it for its serene atmosphere and the opportunity to connect with the ancient past of the Colca region. It’s a reminder of the human history that shaped this landscape long before the modern era.

☀️ Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the midday sun, as the site offers very little shade. This timing also allows for softer light, ideal for photography.

4. Soak in the Hot Springs at La Calera near Chivay

One of the most relaxing things to do in Colca Canyon Peru, is to enjoy a soak in the hot springs at La Calera near Chivay. These thermal baths are known for their healing properties and offer a perfect way to unwind after a day of trekking or exploring the canyon.

There is a small entrance fee to access the hot springs, which goes towards their maintenance and the facilities provided on site, including changing rooms and lockers.

La Calera is easily accessible by a short drive from Chivay, and taxis are readily available for the trip. It’s recommended to visit in the late afternoon or evening, when the temperature difference makes the warm waters even more inviting.

The hot springs are not just a source of relaxation but also a great way to experience the local culture, as they are a popular spot for both tourists and residents alike. The stunning views of the surrounding mountains add to the serene experience.

🤿 Bring a waterproof bag for your valuables and a change of clothes. Visiting during the week can offer a quieter experience, as weekends tend to be busier.

5. Explore the Traditional Villages of Yanque and Maca

Exploring the traditional villages of Yanque and Maca is one of the culturally enriching things to do in Colca Canyon Peru.

These villages are celebrated for their well-preserved colonial churches, vibrant local markets, and the warm hospitality of their inhabitants. Walking through these towns offers a glimpse into the daily life and traditions of the Colca Valley.

No entrance fees are required to wander through the villages, making them accessible and welcoming to all visitors. Yanque and Maca are easily reached by local bus from Chivay, the largest town in the Colca Canyon area.

While exploring, visitors are encouraged to respect the local customs and privacy of residents. The markets in these towns are great places to purchase handcrafted souvenirs and sample traditional Andean cuisine.

Visiting the traditional villages of Yanque and Maca is worth it for the opportunity to see the beautiful colonial architecture and to experience the vibrant community life that has thrived in the Colca Valley for centuries.

🦙 Plan your visit to coincide with a local festival or market day for an especially lively and colorful experience. Be sure to ask permission before taking photographs of people or private property.

6. Trek to the Huaruro Waterfall

Photo: Rolly Valdivia Chávez

The Huaruro Waterfall is one of the more adventurous things to do in Colca Canyon Peru. This stunning waterfall, located off the main tourist path, offers an intimate experience with nature.

The journey to Huaruro not only showcases the beauty of the waterfall itself but also the diverse landscapes of the canyon.

Accessing the waterfall involves a moderate to challenging hike, depending on your starting point. There are no entrance fees specifically for the waterfall, but getting there might require a guide for safe navigation through less-marked trails.

The trek typically starts from the village of Fure, which can be reached from Cabanaconde. Hiring a local guide is recommended to enhance the experience and ensure safety.

The trek tp the Huaruro Waterfall is worth it for the breathtaking sight of the waterfall cascading down the cliffs, surrounded by pristine natural beauty. It’s a peaceful retreat for those looking to escape the more crowded destinations within the canyon.

🥾 Wear sturdy waterproof hiking boots for the trek, as the terrain can be slippery and uneven. Also, carry a lightweight rain jacket, as the mist from the waterfall can cool the surrounding area.

7. Participate in a Bird Watching Tour

Participating in a guided bird-watching tour is one of the most popular things to do in Colca Canyon Peru. The canyon and its surrounding areas are home to a diverse array of avian species, making it a prime spot for bird enthusiasts.

These tours offer a chance to spot rare and colorful birds in their natural habitat, guided by experts who can provide insights into their behaviors and characteristics.

Guided tours can be arranged through local travel agencies in Chivay or Arequipa, with prices varying based on the length of the tour and the group size.

These tours typically include transportation to the bird-watching sites in Colca Canyon, the services of a knowledgeable guide, and sometimes even equipment like binoculars. Early morning is the best time to go bird watching, as this is when birds are most active.

Bird watching in Colca Canyon is worth the early start for the chance to see species such as the Andean condor, giant hummingbirds, and many others in a spectacular natural setting.

🦅 Dress in layers and in colors that blend with the environment to avoid startling the birds. Also, bring a high-quality camera with a good zoom lens to capture detailed photos from a distance.

8. Embark on a Multi-Day Trekking Route

Embarking on a multi-day trekking route through Colca Canyon Peru, is a profound way to experience the canyon’s vastness and beauty.

This adventure includes visits to remote villages, crossing suspension bridges, and camping under the stars, providing an immersive experience into the natural and cultural heritage of the region.

To undertake this trek, it’s advisable to arrange it through a reputable tour company in Arequipa or Chivay, which will cover necessary permits, guides, and camping equipment.

The cost will vary depending on the duration of the trek and the services included. These routes often start from Cabanaconde and require a good level of physical fitness due to the challenging terrain and high altitude.

This trek is worth it for the unparalleled views of the canyon, the chance to visit places untouched by mass tourism, and the opportunity to learn about the local way of life from village visits.

8. Visit the Sangalle Oasis

Visiting the Sangalle Oasis is one of the most unique things to do in Colca Canyon Peru.

Known as the ‘Oasis of America,’ Sangalle offers a stunning contrast to the surrounding desert landscape with its lush, green vegetation and natural pools. It serves as a perfect spot for relaxation after exploring the canyon.

The oasis is accessible by a hike from Cabanaconde, which can be challenging due to the steep descent and ascent. There are no entrance fees to the oasis itself, but accommodations and facilities within the oasis may charge for their services.

The hike down takes about 3-4 hours, and it’s recommended to stay overnight at one of the lodges to fully enjoy the tranquility of the oasis.

The lush environment and cooling pools make Sangalle Oasis worth the trek, offering a unique opportunity to swim and relax in a natural setting surrounded by the dramatic canyon walls.

🫏 Pack light for the hike down and consider hiring a mule for the ascent if you’re concerned about the physical challenge. Staying overnight allows you to enjoy the oasis in the quieter morning and late afternoon hours.

9. Learn About the Collaguas and Cabanas indigenous communities

Photo: Shawn Harquail

The Collaguas and Cabanas are two indigenous communities that have lived in Colca Canyon for centuries, is one of the best things to do in Colca Canyon Peru.

These tours offer a deep dive into the history, traditions, and current lifestyle of the local people, providing a rich cultural experience beyond the natural beauty of the canyon.

Cultural tours can be arranged in Arequipa or Chivay, with various options available ranging from half-day visits to specific communities to multi-day immersive experiences.

Prices will depend on the length of the tour and the level of access to community activities and traditions. These tours often include visits to local markets, workshops, and even participation in traditional farming or cooking practices.

Visiting the Collaguas and Cabanas communities is worth it for the opportunity to understand the deep connection between the people of Colca Canyon and their environment.

🤝 Show respect and openness to learning about local traditions and practices. Bring a gift of school supplies or other useful items as a gesture of goodwill if you’re visiting a local family or school.

10. Visit the Achachihua Viewpoint for panoramic views

Visiting the Mirador Achachihua is a breathtaking thing to do in Colca Canyon, Peru, offering panoramic views of the canyon and showcasing the terraced agriculture practiced by the locals.

This viewpoint provides one of the most comprehensive vistas of the Colca Valley, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers alike.

Access to Mirador Achachihua is free, and it’s conveniently located near the town of Cabanaconde, which can be reached by bus or taxi from Arequipa or Chivay.

There’s no need for a guide to visit this viewpoint, but arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon offers the best light for photographs and a more tranquil experience.

The sweeping views from Achachihua are worth the visit, providing a unique perspective on the depth of Colca Canyon and the intricate patterns of agricultural terraces that have been maintained for centuries.

11. Explore the pre-Incan hanging tombs at Choquetico

The pre-Incan hanging tombs and stone models at the Choquetico site are intriguing things to do in Colca Canyon Peru.

This archaeological site offers insight into the burial practices and cosmology of the canyon’s ancient inhabitants, with cliffside tombs and intricately carved stone models that are believed to be a form of ancient land mapping.

Choquetico can be accessed from the town of Cabanaconde or the village of Maca, with local guides available to provide tours that explain the significance of the site.

There may be a small fee for a guided tour, which helps support local conservation efforts. The site is reachable by a moderate hike, so comfortable walking shoes and water are recommended.

Visiting Choquetico Tombs is worth it for those interested in the ancient history and cultural practices of the Colca Canyon region. The site’s location also offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

🙋‍♀️ Hire a local guide through your accommodation or a tour agency in Chivay for the most informative experience. They can share not only the historical importance of the site but also local legends and stories.

12. Attend a Traditional Folk Dance and Music Performance

Attending a traditional folk dance and music performance is a vibrant and enriching thing to do in Colca Canyon Peru.

These performances provide a colorful window into the rich cultural traditions of the Andean people, featuring traditional costumes, instruments, and dance styles that have been passed down through generations.

Performances are often held in local towns like Chivay, Yanque, and Cabanaconde, especially during festivals or in the evenings at local cultural centers or hotels.

There may be a small fee for attending these performances, which typically goes towards supporting the local cultural groups. It’s best to check with your accommodation for the schedule and location of performances during your stay.

💃 Don’t be shy to participate if invited by the performers—it’s a great way to connect with the local culture. Bring a small gift or donation as a token of appreciation for their performance.

13. Stay in Arequipa as your base for visiting Colca Canyon

Staying in Arequipa as your base for visiting Colca Canyon Peru, is a practical and enjoyable approach to exploring one of South America’s most spectacular natural wonders.

Arequipa, known as the White City, is not only close to Colca Canyon but also offers a rich cultural heritage, stunning colonial architecture, and a vibrant culinary scene.

It serves as a comfortable and convenient base from which travelers can organize day trips or multi-day excursions into the canyon.

Arequipa is accessible by air from Lima and other major cities in Peru, making it an easy starting point for your adventure. Various tour operators in Arequipa offer organized trips to Colca Canyon, ranging from single-day tours to longer treks that explore deeper into the canyon.

Accommodation options in Arequipa cater to all budgets, from hostels to luxury hotels, and the city’s well-developed infrastructure makes planning your visit to Colca Canyon straightforward.

Choosing Arequipa as your base is worth it for the flexibility it offers in planning your visit to Colca Canyon Peru. Arequipa itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering its own array of attractions to explore.

14. Explore, hike, and observe traditional lifestyles in Cabanaconde Village

Cabanaconde Village is one of the most authentic things to do in Colca Canyon Peru, offering visitors a chance to hike scenic trails, observe traditional Andean lifestyles, and immerse themselves in the local culture.

This village serves as a gateway to some of the most breathtaking treks in the region, including paths leading to the depths of the canyon and the Sangalle Oasis. The community’s vibrant culture and welcoming locals provide a unique insight into life in the Colca Valley.

Cabanaconde is accessible by bus from Arequipa or Chivay, with regular services available. There are no entrance fees to enter the village, but specific treks may require a small fee or donation to the local community.

Accommodations range from hostels to guesthouses, making it easy to plan an overnight stay. For those interested in hiking, starting early in the morning is recommended to enjoy the cooler temperatures and stunning sunrise views.

Visiting Cabanaconde Village is worth it for the unparalleled access it provides to some of the most untouched natural beauty in Colca Canyon. It’s a place where the traditional way of life can still be witnessed firsthand.

🤝 Engage with the local community by visiting the market or dining at a local restaurant. This is a great way to support the local economy and learn more about the daily lives of the people who call Cabanaconde home.

15. Ride a mule at Tapay Viewpoint

Photo: Mathieu GAUTIER

Riding a mule to Tapay Viewpoint is a unique and traditional way to experience the stunning landscapes of Colca Canyon Peru.

This activity offers a less strenuous alternative to hiking, allowing visitors to enjoy the breathtaking views of the canyon while experiencing the traditional method of transportation used by locals for centuries.

It’s an ideal option for those who wish to explore the rugged terrain of the canyon without the physical demands of a long trek.

To participate in a mule ride at Tapay Viewpoint, you can arrange for a mule and guide in the village of Cabanaconde, which serves as a starting point for the journey.

The service typically includes the rental of the mule, a guide to lead the way, and basic riding instructions. Prices vary depending on the length of the trip and the provider, but booking in advance can help secure a spot, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Riding a mule to the viewpoint allows travelers to navigate the steep and uneven paths more comfortably, offering a unique vantage point of the canyon’s depth and beauty.

🫏 Wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes, even when riding a mule, as you may need to dismount and walk in certain areas. This activity not only offers a memorable experience but also supports the local economy by providing income for mule owners and guides.

16. Relax in hot springs or go fishing in Llahuar Village

Photo: lethalsheethal

Llahuar Village presents a serene escape within Colca Canyon, Peru, where visitors can relax in natural hot springs or enjoy a peaceful day of fishing.

Nestled along the river, this remote village offers a tranquil retreat with stunning natural scenery. The hot springs provide a perfect way to unwind after a day of hiking, while the river is known for its clear waters and abundant fish.

Reaching Llahuar requires a hike from the town of Cabanaconde, which can be accessed by bus from Arequipa. The trek to Llahuar is relatively challenging, so it’s recommended for those with some hiking experience.

There are basic lodges in the village for overnight stays, and a small fee is charged for using the hot springs. Bringing your own fishing gear is advised if you plan to fish.

🛏️ The only lodge that hosts foreigners is Llahuar Lodge from $22 USD per night.

17. Visit Local Homes in San Juan de Chuccho Village

Photo: Daniel Orofino

Visiting local homes in San Juan de Chuccho Village is a unique and intimate way to experience the culture and hospitality of Colca Canyon Peru.

This village is known for its welcoming residents and traditional adobe homes, offering a glimpse into the daily life of the Colca Valley. Engaging with the local community here allows visitors to learn about traditional Andean lifestyles and customs first-hand.

San Juan de Chuccho is accessible via a hike from Cabanaconde, with the trail offering beautiful views of the canyon. The village is part of the popular trekking route in Colca Canyon, making it an accessible stop for hikers.

There are no specific entrance fees, but visitors are encouraged to support the local economy by purchasing crafts or products offered by the families. Staying overnight in a family guesthouse provides a deeper connection to the community.

The visit is worth it for the authentic cultural exchange and the chance to support the local community directly. It’s a rare opportunity to see how traditional Andean values and customs are preserved and passed down through generations.

🎁 Bring small gifts from your home country to share with your hosts. This gesture of goodwill is deeply appreciated and helps build a memorable connection with the families you visit.

18. Learn about ancient rituals in Coporaque Village

Photo: Tore

Learning about ancient rituals in Coporaque Village is a fascinating thing to do in Colca Canyon Peru, for those interested in the spiritual and ceremonial practices of the Andean people.

Coporaque is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the Colca Valley, offering deep insights into pre-Hispanic cultures and their enduring legacy in the modern world.

Visitors can participate in or observe rituals that have been part of the community’s fabric for centuries.

Coporaque can be reached by a short drive or bus ride from Chivay, the main town in Colca Canyon. While there’s no entrance fee to enter the village, participating in a ritual or ceremony may require a donation or fee, which supports the preservation of these traditions. Local guides are available to explain the significance of the rituals and facilitate a respectful engagement with them.

Visiting Coporaque Village is worth it for the unique insight it offers into the spiritual life of the Colca Valley’s inhabitants. It’s a rare opportunity to witness practices that have been a vital part of Andean culture for millennia.

👚 Show respect and openness when participating in or observing local rituals. Dress modestly and follow the guidance of your host or guide to ensure your actions are culturally appropriate.

19. Explore the Callalli Stone Castles

Exploring the Callalli Stone Castles is an off-the-beaten-path thing to do in Colca Canyon, Peru, appealing to adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The “castles” are natural rock formations that resemble medieval fortresses, set against the backdrop of the stunning Andean landscape. This area offers a unique geological exploration opportunity, with towering rock spires and winding canyons that create a surreal environment.

The Callalli Stone Castles are located near the village of Callalli, which can be reached by car or bus from Chivay. The journey there takes you through some of the most scenic parts of the Colca Valley.

There’s no entrance fee to explore the area, but hiring a local guide is highly recommended to navigate the terrain safely and learn about the geological and cultural significance of the formations.

The visit is worth it for the dramatic landscape and the opportunity to see a less-visited part of Colca Canyon. The formations offer not only a glimpse into the natural forces that shaped the Andean mountains but also a chance for stunning photography and peaceful hikes.

🥾 Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring plenty of water, as the area is remote and services are limited. Also, consider bringing a picnic to enjoy amidst the natural castles.

20. Experience Rural Life in Sibayo Village

Photo: Jaime Chang

Experiencing rural life in Sibayo Village is a heartwarming thing to do in Colca Canyon Peru, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the peaceful and traditional lifestyle of the Andean highlands.

Sibayo is known for its well-preserved stone houses and friendly community, providing a stark contrast to the bustling tourist spots elsewhere in the valley. Visitors can participate in daily activities, learn about traditional agriculture, and even stay overnight in community-run guesthouses.

Sibayo is accessible by road from Chivay, making it an easy day trip or overnight destination for those exploring Colca Canyon.

There are no entrance fees to the village, but staying in a guesthouse or participating in local activities may have a cost, directly benefiting the community.

21. Hike the Madrigal Chimneys

Photo: Tore

Hiking the Madrigal Chimneys offers an adventurous thing to do in Colca Canyon Peru, for those looking to explore the canyon’s unique geological features.

The “chimneys” are towering rock formations that rise dramatically from the canyon floor, providing a challenging and scenic hike for visitors. This area, less frequented by tourists, offers solitude and breathtaking natural beauty.

The trailhead for the Madrigal Chimneys hike is near the village of Madrigal, which can be reached by local transport from Chivay. The hike is considered moderate to difficult, depending on the route and your experience.

There’s no entrance fee, but hiring a guide in Madrigal is advisable for safety and to gain insight into the area’s geology and history.

22. Hike the Ampato Mountain

The Ampato Mountain is a challenging and rewarding thing to do in Colca Canyon Peru, for experienced mountaineers.

This dormant volcano offers not only a thrilling climb but also historical significance, as it was the site where the Inca Ice Maiden, “Juanita,” was discovered. The summit provides spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes and the vast expanse of the Andes.

Access to Ampato requires a guided expedition, which can be arranged in Arequipa. The climb is technically demanding and requires proper acclimatization to high altitudes, as well as the appropriate mountaineering gear.

The cost of the expedition includes the guide, transportation to the starting point, and necessary permits. Climbers should be in excellent physical condition and have previous high-altitude experience.

🏥 Ensure you have comprehensive travel and rescue insurance before attempting the climb. Additionally, spend several days in Arequipa or another high-altitude location to acclimatize and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

Trisha Velarmino (42)

Trisha Velarmino is the Global Editor-in-Chief of the Insider Media Group operating in Europe, Asia, and North America. She lived in Peru for 1.5 years and has helped thousands of expats, digital nomads, and solo travelers easily visit Peru. Trisha has traveled Peru extensively from North to South.

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