Avg. Time : 4 – 5 days
Start / Finish :
- Cabanaconde – Andagua
- Both trailheads are accessible by daily bus services from Arequipa.
Season : May to early October.
Maps / Info :
- Three IGN 1:100,000 topographic maps cover the trek: Chivay 32-S; Huambo 32-R ; Orcopamba 31-R. You can normally pick them up at the South American Explorers Club in Lima or Cuzco. Click here to order online.
- The Explorers Clubs are your best bet for up-to-date information on the Colca Canyon and other hikes in Peru.
- Back in 1996, information on this trail was hard to come by. Unable to find the IGN maps in Lima, I relied solely on the sketch map and trekking notes contained in Hilary Bradt’s Backpacking and Trekking in Peru and Bolivia (1995). To be honest, I found this guide to be pretty ordinary. I cannot personally say whether or not it has improved in more recent editions.
- Lonely planet’s Trekking in the Central Andes includes a sketch map and trekking notes, which are definitely a step-up in quality from my old Bradt guide.
- Bring all supplies from Arequipa.
Route / Conditions :
- If you are recently arrived in Peru, you may want to spend an extra day or two acclimatizing in Cabanaconde (3287m) before setting out.
- From Puente Colgado (1850m) to Paso Cerani (5100m) you are looking at a 3000m plus climb. Suffice to say, your cause will be helped immensely by keeping your pack weight as low as possible (see Going Light).
- Water is a big factor on this trail. Fill up at every opportunity. Between Cabanaconde and Chacas the only water available is from the Colca River. After Cerani pass, water sources are more regular.
- Due to the amount of livestock in the area, I would recommend treating all water along the route, with the exception of sources close to the pass.
- I loved the village of Choco (2473m). A little oasis of green in an otherwise arid environment. Friendly people, wonderful plaza, great atmosphere.
- The last section of the hike takes you through the Valley of the Volcanos. A surreal landscape, much of the walking is on soft volcanic sand and during the heat of the day it can be tough going. Remember to stay well hydrated.
- Tent. No problem finding campsites. Higher up the temperatures drop dramatically. Be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag and appropriate clothing.
- You may be able to find indoor accommodation in Choco and Chachas.
- One of my favourite hikes in Peru.
- The village of Choco is a classic. Rest here for a while and soak up the atmosphere. If you are lucky you may even be able to rustle up a meal.
- Views from the much-anticipated Paso Cerani are superb. After a 3000m plus climb, this makes for a fantatstic place to take a well-earned break.