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Instructions: In the Colca Canyon above, hover over any red or blue icon to view detail. Click on any red or blue icon to "zoom in". Use the Zoom (+ and -) and the Arrow buttons to move around. You can also "zoom in" a region on the map by click and drag a box with your mouse. Source: PromPeru.


Colca Canyon is the canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru. It is located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Arequipa. The Colca River starts high in the Andes at Condorama Crucero Alto and changes its name to Majes, and then to Camana before reaching the Pacific Ocean.

Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world at 10,725 ft (3,269 meters), it is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. However, the canyon's walls are not as vertical as the ones of the Grand Canyon. The Cotahuasi Canyon nearby to the northwest is a deeper canyon at 11,488 ft (3,501 meters). Since they are such major features of the landscape, the Colca and Cotahuasi canyons are both easily recognizable in even low-resolution satellite photos of the region.

The small town of Chivay (see satellite map below) is on the upper Colca River, where the canyon is not so deep but where many terraces are present in the canyon and continue for many kilometers downstream. As the canyon deepens downriver, a series of small villages is spread out over the approximately 35 miles (56 km) between Chivay and the village of Cabanaconde.

Many travelers come to witness the dwindling population of the Andean condors. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with towns founded in Spanish Colonial times and formerly inhabited by the Collaguas and the Cabanas. The local people still maintain ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces along the less precipitous canyon walls.

Some 40 km from Chivay, the first of the towns along the way, stands a superb natural lookout point from where one can watch the condors wheeling over the valley, while in the distance one can spot the Coropuna (6,450 meters) and Ampato (6,325 meters) volcanoes. Several towns in the valley provide lodging, but one can also camp out and go trekking. The area is ideal for adventure sports.

Machu Picchu is perhaps the most interesting tourist destination in South America. Many hikers do Colca either before or after going to Machu Picchu.


See also: Most Popular videos of the Colca Canyon.
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Colca Canyon Satellite Map

Below: Colca Canyon Satellite Image, source Google Earth, Eye alt. 36.98 miles

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Last updated: November 7, 2008