The Colca Canyon of Peru is a really deep canyon. It’s said to be more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. It’s only 150 meters less deep than the deepest canyon in the world, also in Peru. It is lined by snow capped volcanoes on one side and steep basalt cliffs on the other. At the bottom flows a swift, clear river of snow melt. Condors soar through the canyon. I had to visit.
We hiked from the town of Cabanaconde at 3290 meters down to the river about 1100 meters below. We took three days, one down and around, one of rest, and one back up. We walked between small villages that are accessed only by foot or mule. We were guided by a sweet, black dog who joined us at the top of the canyon and abandoned us in the early morning the day we started our hike back out. We saw condors soaring, ate the best lomo saltado (alpaca sauteed with pepper, onions and lots of salt), and swam in a pool while soaking up the sun. We found waterfalls, basalt cliffs, dry, dusty village plazas, and sweet, green oases. We suffered blisters, sore knees, and a few tears. We experienced the depths and the heights of the Cañon de Colca.