Colca canyon – Tour review
Colca canyon is the 2nd deepest canyon in the world and is on every backpackers to do list. After being told it was a must do by almost everyone we thought we should see what all the hype was about. So we booked in a 2 day/1 night hike for the next day and set off on our next hiking adventure.
To be frank I was dreading the 4am pick up from the hostel followed closely by the 3 hour drive to the first breakfast spot. I was thinking that the wake up time was going to be the worst thing about this trek but now in hindsight, I didn't really enjoy the whole trek in general. I wish I could write a great review about this tour and I'm sure there are people out there who would have found it extremely enjoyable, but the whole point of this blog is to be honest about my personal experience. So here we go:
The trek itself. Though I don't want to take away from this mammoth natural landscape as it is impressive, I mean check out the picture below of the sun slowly lighting up the canyon, it's quite magical.
This was really my highlight of the trek, the rest of the hike was quite repetitive and to be frank not really picturesque. The hike is bloody tough - consisted of a steep climb downhill followed by the next day of a steep upward. There was no really sense of fulfilment or reward. Once you got down on the first day the oasis, the greenness of the area contrasted with the stark rocky surrounding was quite spectacular. There was a pool but due to the time you arrived it meant that the sun was slowly disappearing behind the canyon and the cold started to set in. On the second day you had to look forward to making it to the top and breakfast I guess.
Secondly the food. Food for fuel not flavour. Understandable the nature of being in a canyon affects the access to food, especially in terms of the quantity. So expect carbs to keep you going with a minimal amount of meat and sauce for flavour though from what I can guess the produce used is locally sourced which is always a bonus.
Tour guide. To be fair I think our amazing tour guide from the inca trail set a very high bench mark though I think we unfortunately were out of luck this time. Our tour guide was surprisingly not friendly or enthusiastic. Two must haves when you’re taking on a hike of this magnitude, it's tough. Not to mention on the last day she left someone behind and in turn blamed it on us for losing our friend who we had known for only a few hours. Don't worry we got him back unharmed.
The condors. Seeing the condors fly in the thermals of the canyon is incredibly majestic, these birds are massive. Though the spot itself is full of tourist, it's quite entertaining watching 100s of tourist trying to capture a picture of the couple of flying condors, although in full traveller style we got in there for a snap or two!
Hot springs. One stop is at the natural hot springs, for 15 soles you can hop in and melt away some of your aches and pains. We chose instead to soak our feet in cold river for a more refreshing approach, plus saving us a few soles here and there - boom!
The other stops. To be honest you could take them or leave them. If you want to grab some survivors or maybe a snap with a baby alpaca then it's the place for you. Though I did try the cactus fruit which looked like a kiwifruit but tasted far more sour which I enjoyed - I love to try new foods.
Last lunch stop. A buffet lunch full of alpaca, ceviche, roast chicken and pretty much everything in between. It's comes with a pretty heavy, unbackpacker friendly price tag of 30 soles each so our philosophy was eat enough for lunch and dinner. The food was actually pretty good but the highlight for me was the ceviche and for Ryan the alpaca stirfry. I left feeling like the size of a house and almost needed to get rolled out of the restaurant - mission accomplished.
Final stops. Natural reserve, driving through here you see a small portion of the 10,000 domesticated alpacas and llamas which reside here in farms and if you're lucky you might spot a couple of wild Vacunas. Volcanos, a look out point where you can see all the local volcanos nearby. Though freezing it was pretty neat to see all the Volcanos in one semicircle.
Overall I'm happy I saw the Colca Canyon but in the end I wish I had just visited it from above, I think the walk was a bit too tedious for my liking. Let me know what you thought of the Colca Canyon, I hope your experience was better than mine.
Note: remember this is only my personal experience, I have talked to loads of people who have enjoyed it. It's your trip, you choose what you want to experience.