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The Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon, Peru © Judith Duk
Colca Canyon, Peru © Judith Duk

The Colca Canyon is the most popular excursion from Arequipa, and the world's second deepest canyon. Culture lovers will relish the extremely picturesque valley, which is home to huge mountains, grand churches, lively market places and herds of wandering llamas. The Crux del Condor Lookout is the region's most popular viewing point, and the best place to see giant condors soaring above the dramatic depths of the canyon below. Many people stay in the quaint market town of Chivay, which is some three hours from Arequipa. It offers a good range of restaurants, bus services and accommodation, and is an excellent base from which to explore the area. Hikers will find many trails in the surrounding hills. They can also venture down to the bottom of the canyon and overnight in one of the tiny Indian settlements below. Travellers can choose from a number of tour operators, whose packages range from hikes to multi-day adventures. Visitors can set off alone and enjoy self-guided tours too.

Transport: Public bus from Terminal Terrestre or San Juan de Dios 510, Arequipa. Organised tours also visit the canyon daily. It is a five-hour journey.