As one of the lucky countries with the Andes decorating its landscapes, Peru is rich in hiking and climbing opportunities for adventure travelers. But the best part about the varied terrain is that there is trekking for every skill set and fitness level. A great hike for soft adventurers, who love to be outside but aren’t looking for a huge challenge, is the Canocota Canyon Colca Peru hike which can be included as a part of a luxury, tailormade trip to Peru with travel specialists, Aracari.
Canocota Canyon Colca Peru Hike
My colleague Caroline and I recently made a trip south to try out some of the great experiences Aracari offers in the Colca Valley and Canyon. Lucky for us this included two hikes, a difficult hike to Madrigal Chimpa Fortress and an easier half day hike through the Canocota Canyon, the smaller and lesser-known sister of the Colca Canyon.
Located in the north-eastern area of the Colca Valley, the Canocota Canyon is home to dramatic landscapes and incredible views. This Colca Peru hike is a point to point trek, that starts in the small town of Canocota, which sits at 3,500m (11,482ft), and ends at La Calera, one of the many natural public thermal bathes in the Colca Valley. An easy-moderate option for travelers, the hike is about 8.2km (5.1mi) and on average takes 3 hours to walk.
My Experience on the Canocota Canyon Colca Peru Hike
We decided to bring a box lunch, and start our hike around 1pm. This turned out to be a great idea, as there was not a single other traveler on the path. Most of the tour companies hike this route from 2:30-5:30 in the afternoon, so we had the scenery and Andean landscapes all to ourselves.
After admiring the colonial church while passing through the Canocota town square, Caroline, myself, and our guide ascended about 20 minutes to our first lookout point. Here the small canyon is carved into the valley below, and we decided to take a lunch break after only a little while hiking because the view was that good. Our guide explained to us that the Colca River is slowly cutting into the mountains, creating the Canocota Canyon that lied at our feet, and from this lookout we could spot our route which would consist of mild downhill and then flat terrain for the rest of the hike.
Check out our Highlights of Southern Peru Itinerary for inspiration on a trip to Colca.
The Scenic Trail
We continued on our way, learning about the vast species of flaura and fauna that surrounded us. We passed plenty of cactus and flowered bushes alongside the trail that made for great photos ops and I spotted a conejo mara, or large Andean rabbit, hopping by. There is also the opportunity to see condors on this hike.
The trail is evidence of the deep history of the region, and land is sculpted with pre-Inca agricultural terraces. To this day, locals hike into the canyon to farm their terraces that are unreachable by car or bike. About halfway into our trek, we also passed Incan thermal bathes. It was incredible to see where the sacred people came to be close to pachamama, mother earth, and how they had skillfully carved natural bathing sites into the rocks.
Hiking by the River
One of the highlights of the hike is walking alongside the Colca River. The water splashes against beautiful river stones, and there are plenty of opportunities to descend about 4.5 meters (15 feet) to the banks and take a break to listen to the peaceful flow of the water. We took advantage of this proximity to the river, and sat down for about 10 minutes during our walk to enjoy nature and the incredible views.
After about 3 hours of hiking we arrived at the public hot springs, La Calera, where our vehicle and driver were waiting for us to take us to our next destination.
Considerations for the Canocota Canyon Colca Peru Hike
Visiting the Colca Canyon and Valley
Aracari can arrange a visit to the Colca Canyon and Valley as a part of a private, tailormade trip to Peru. We recommend staying at either Colca Lodge, which boasts private thermal bathes and an intimate natural setting, or Belmond Las Casitas, which rivals the luxury level of 5 star hotels around the world. For travelers interested in visiting all of the highlights of southern Peru check out our itinerary that covers the best of the area or contact us to arrange a journey on the Belmond Andean Explorer luxury sleeper train which makes a similar route.
Hiking in Colca
As with all travel to the Andes, better weather is likely during dry season from April-November when the climate is typically sunny and clear. But, the hike is available all year, and can also be done as a short (45 minute) horseback ride for those interested.