The second deepest canyon in the world-Colca Canyon

To be honest, the day when I decided to go sign up with an agency for the Colca trek(based on what I had heard from others about how awesome it was),I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how tough or easy it was and I was even confident(or foolish maybe), to decide to complete the said trek in 2 days rather than the 3 that people usually do it in.

So there I was, sitting with the agent in a tour company called Eco Tours(online reviews were good) and was paying up for my next day trek. The trek was costing me 150 soles(appx 30$) and they were providing the group with a English speaking guide, transportation, all meals(except last day lunch) and accommodation. Definitely sounded like a good deal to me and I decided to go for it.
The bus was going to pick me from my hostel at 3.30 in the morning as the aim was to start the trek early so as to avoid the harsh sun as much as we could. In the pitch darkness, I found myself sitting in my hostel lounge(with literally no one else up or around),waiting for the bus to come and pick me up. Finally at around 3.40 am there was a knock on the hostel door and it was a call for me. As I got on the bus, I saw like 40 people on the bus and though sleepy, thought to myself that unlike what the agency told me; this does not look like a trek for a very small group.Nevertheless, it was way too early in the morning for me to get into any discussion and so I went and found the only seat vacant in the complete bus and got comfortable enough to sleep for the next 3-4 hours till we reached the town where we would be having our breakfast.
Spotted my first Condor
Just when I was falling into a deep slumber, the guide woke us all up and asked us to get 70 soles ready as he would come to collect the same for the entry ticket to the canyon. That’s another thing here in Peru. Every touristic place has a separate tourist ticket that needs to be bought apart from what we pay to the tour agency. So as the guide came to me I sleepily handed him a 100 soles note, he looked at it and said “FAKE”. I was stunned and all sleepiness suddenly vanished. Did he just tell me that my note of 100 soles was fake.
Shucks I was hardly carrying much cash and the thought of having been cheated by the money changer really upset me. Though I blame myself for not having checked all notes before taking them or having had the guy to put his stamp on the notes before handing them to me.Anyways, thankfully I had enough cash to pay for the ticket(70 soles for tourists from all countries except Latin America, and 40 soles for Latin Americans).
Our first stop was a town called Chivay, where all the tourists buses would stop for breakfast. I was glad to find a decently clean bathroom so that I could freshen up. I literally hadn’t even brushed my teeth(don’t judge me guys.I am a backpacker 😉 ).We had a good breakfast of eggs, toast and some tea and then we were off to our next stop, which was the Condor viewpoint.
When we reached to the viewpoint, I realized that I would literally have to find a spot for myself in the mad rush of tourists who were all there, standing at the rail to spot some condors in the valley.For all who don’t know, condors are birds similar to vultures who feed on dead animals or humans as well(but only if they are dead as they don’t hunt).I did manage to make place for myself and managed to spot and click some condors in the valley.
Our Group 🙂
Our amazing guide- Roy 
After 20 minutes we were headed to the spot from where we would start the trek. It was 9.40 am when our group(which thankfully had massively shrunken to just 4 people and the guide),started the trek of the world famous Colca Canyon. I was super enthusiastic when I started the trek and was zooming ahead of the group. Thankfully it was a downhill for the first 4 hours, and I thought it was easy. While the terrain was rocky, slippery and a bit tough, yet the view all throughout was mind blowing. On the trail, you could look down in the deep canyon and see a river wayyyy down below. That was where we had to reach in the next 4 hours. The other three people in my group were- Ines, Ivan and Leena and we all got along well pretty well right from the beginning. We in fact had the same pace while trekking, which was good as our guide(Roy) did not have to wait separately for each one. In fact walking with a small group has an advantage that you don’t have to waste time waiting for others to catch up(in my case it would have been me everyone would have been waiting for me to catch up)and at the same time we could keep each other motivated to keep walking in case one seemed to be close to giving up.
Our lunch with Alpaca meat.
There were a number of people in other groups of different sizes, who were walking the same trail and thus it was quite fun to march down the canyon. After about 4 hours we reached the bridge which was at the bottom of the canyon and there we took a nice long break and got into the river to cool ourselves down after being drenched with sweat due got the heat plus the weight of our day bags on our back.
This is when I realized that my legs were shivering uncontrollably and I could feel the stress on my knees due to the downhill trek. The next part was tougher. We had to do an uphill climb for about an hour to reach the town where we would be having our lunch. This uphill one hour climb seemed to be super long and tiring and we were all huffing and puffing by the time we reached our destination. Roy was a great guide as he kept stopping in the way to show us some rare plants and explain their medical value to us.
Walk,walk and keep walking..

We had an hour long lunch of Alpaca meat, soup, rice and a banana and quite enjoyed it. We were now recharged for the next part of the trek which was a mix of uphill, flat and downhill pathways and Roy estimated it would take us 4 hours more to reach there.

First sight to heaven-The Oasis
Those who decide to do the trek in 3 days stop at this town for the night and commence the next part of their trek on the following day. But we the enthusiastic ones, had decided to do it in 2 days and so no break for us. Off we went again energized by our lunch. But the energy didn’t stay for too long. Soon we were literally crawling and dragging our feet across the terrain and hoping fervently that we would reach our destination soon. We crossed the terrace farming zone which was built thousands of years ago by the Inca’s and Roy took some time in explaining its importance for the agricultural purposes.
We started walking again and soon we got our motivation to keep going till the end. We spotted the place where we would be spending the night and it looked beautiful. It was an oasis and we could see the deep blue water if the swimming pools which we could go dip in as soon as we reached. Suddenly Ivan who was going slow and steady till then, got all charged up and literally started running while screaming out the words on the top of his lungs- CERVEZA….PISCINA…CERVEZA….PISCINA( CERVEZA is beer and PISCINA is swimming pool. Lol).

Bonfire time..
It took us another super long and tiring 2 hours to reach our destination for the night- town of Sangalle. An oasis between of the desert.
The feeling was indescribable. We felt so good to have made it here and in spite of the fact that the sun had almost set, we decided to do what we had been aching to do and that is jump into the pool. But as soon as we did, we realized that the water was too cold for our liking and in 10 minutes flat, we were out of the pool. Well, at least we went in right ?
After a quick shower in the small, dark common bathroom(did I not mention that there were no lights in our rooms and the bathrooms and everything was to be done with the help of a torch), we went forced our tired bodies out to the garden area and decided to sit and chat around till dinner was ready. After that straight to bed as we were super tired and also we had to wake up at 4 am again tomorrow for commencing the uphill journey back to the top.
Since it was so cold, someone suggested we make a bonfire and hence we went to look for the wood in the darkness. It was actually pretty fun and I felt like I was back in a summer camp. With the help of the guides of various groups we got the fire burning and everyone came and sat around the fire to get their bodies warmed up. It was a bliss in the crazy cold.
Caught the first rays of the sun while on our way up..
Soon dinner was laid and we had a nice meal of soup and spaghetti while listening to great music. The campers also started moving around their lit torches on the ceiling to create a disco effect.
But nobody apart from the guides had the strength to dance. I soon decided to head back to my room and go to bed as I was very tired.
It felt like I had just gotten to bed when I heard Roy knocking on the door asking us to get up and get ready. Whattt…But we had just gotten to bed.Nevertheless, we got our lazy bums off the bed and got ready in the darkness(no lights remember).
At 4.30 am we started walking and in fact were the first few groups to start the trek. We were just about 10 minutes into the trek and we were already huffing and puffing and needed a break. Roy was very sweet and told us to take our time and not to rush it. He even offered us mules, but we immediately refused as that would be too embarrassing to do. Imagine everyone else trekking and we happily sitting with our backsides on the poor mules. Naaa, I will crawl up but I won’t take a donkey’s support.
Almost there to the end..Keep going..
Soon I got a strategy in place to complete the trek. I realized that more than body pains, it was just my knee and my breathing that was giving me a hard time. So I decided to be a little ahead of the group, then would take a break every 15 minutes for 30 seconds just to get my heart beats back to normal and then as soon as I would see the others from my group catch up, I would start walking again.
These 4 hours were the most grueling hours of my life, and I was cursing myself for getting into it. But then as soon as I would look at the landscape around me, I would change my mind and would tell myself that IT TOTALLY IS WORTH ALL THE PAIN.
At the end of 3 and a half hours, we could see the top and could see the trekkers that were about to finish(while we were the first group to start, we were almost the last to finish), and kept motivating each other to go on as it was almost the end. And soon, it was over. The people who had reached earlier were actually cheering the others on and it was a great sense of accomplishment when we finally reached the top.
WE DID IT….
We all gave a group hug, took photos and congratulated one another for finishing one of the toughest treks in Peru. Well done…
After another half an hour, we walked on flat land for 15 minutes and then had our breakfast in a small town. After the breakfast we then were taken to few viewpoints(to see volcanoes, terrace farming of Inca’s etc), to the thermal hotsprings and finally a halt at Chivay for lunch.
All I wanted was to take a nice long hot shower and go to bed to give my aching body some rest. It took us another 3 hours to reach back to Arequipa and as soon as I reached my hostel, I went to bed.
But I have to say, that this was one of the best things I have experienced in life, and maybe a year or two(or several) years later, I might want to do it again.
That’s all from my side on COLCA CANYON.
Till then,
Chao!
Adios!
Hasta Luego!
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