The Coloca Canyon: Earthquake country, flying condors, loney dirt-cactus filled paths, getting lost, running raging rivers, playful dangerous gysers, stray dogs panting medicinal hot springs, striking mountains as far as the eye can see. This is my kind of Peru.
Located in the Southern part of Peru in the second deepest canyon in the world, this 3 day hike was one I waited 3 weeks to take. It was one of the reasons why I came to the small town of Cabanconde, and well worth the wait.
The trek started in Cabanaconde, and the first leg was criss cross, zigzag deep into the canyon. We headed steep deep down into the valley about 1,000 meters. When the altitude changed, so did the trees, birds, temperature and life surronding us. It took us about 4 hours down to get to the Colca River at the bottom of the canyon where we met a geyser that was exploding before our eyes. Without hesitation we decided to test all the tiny pools of water the swirled with the cold mountain river, and eventually swim in them. It was potentially dangerous but worth the thrill as it was the highlight of the hike for me. The canyon was actually created from an earthquake as it seperated the canyon into two.
Next stop was an hour to small part of the river called Lluar, barely a little town, more like one hostal was settled next to the Colca river at the deepest part of the canyon. Little ducklings learned how to swim upstream from their parents, hot pools of medicinal thermals, polar bear diving into the cold rivers (going from one hot spring into the cold river and back again), and light hints of eucalyptus saturated in the rainfall which was the first we had had in months filled the air with a thick smell. So much beauty.
There was a little friend, named Pepe who was a 7 month old Alpaca (llama) that lived outside of our dormitory. He was quite friendly and frequently would blow snot on you. He was very photogenic and made for some good photos and laughs. The owners were planning on getting a female llama and starting a family for what they reffered to as ¨decorations¨.
After a good nights rest we headed out to hike 1,000 meters back up the canyon on the other side to San Galle, known as the Oasis of the canyon that had pools in about 5 different establishments to choose from. This was quite surreal as we were so tired from the heat that these pools were the perfect way to end our day.
I forgot to mention, since I work at the Hostel Pachamama in Cabanacond,e the whole stay at the hostels I was at in the canyon were free as well! Food at some places was half off or free as well. I found it so lovely to have those connections from my work, feels like I have a big family in the canyon. I feel so lucky, and not just another tourist but much more calm, tranquil and appreciative of the different towns and people who are so welcoming in them.
While in the canyon we felt 2 earthquakes. They were small and barely lasted seconds but it was quite the experiance as the roads leading around the canyon are so small and dangerous that you could hear and see rocks falling from the canyon. But not to fear, we were safe and stayed away from the danger.
We hiked back up to Cabanaconde at 6:00 am the next morning and it took 3 hour up, up, up on a tiny path that literally went through one of the steepest parts of the mountains.
For lodging in Lluar called ¨Lluar Lodge¨ the price is usually $20.00 Soles ($7USD) for a dorm and $10.00 Soles ($4 USD) for each meal. In San Galle I stayed at Las Palmeras and the price for a dorm was $15.00 Soles ($6 USD), meals were the same price $10.00 Soles ($4 USD) and these prices are considered expensive for the canyon.
If you go to the canyon make sure to bring water as it is $3.00 Soles in town and $10.00 Soles in the canyon. I would reccomend packing bread and avacado and snacks. You have to stay at least 2 nights, although I have met people who do it all in one day and eventually get sick from altitude or need to recooperate for an entire night. Take your time if you go to the canyon. I believe its a place to really enjoy slowly and apprecaite. It is not going to be anything crazy, there are not many tourists, and the hikes are hard. If you dont like hiking I would not reccomend it. Although there was an option to take a donkey for $60.00 Soles (25 USD) up the mountain or a 4 X 4 for $200.00 Soles ($80.00 USD), make time to enjoy!
All in all when I returned to Cabanaconde I was beyond thankful and happy for the people at Pachamama and my mural that I made there. I have been bartending at the hostel as well, and it just made me appreciate everything more being away for a little bit.