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The Top Things to do in Chivay, Colca Canyon

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 01-03-2023

Chivay is the gateway to the Colca Canyon. It is 163 kilometers by road from the city of Arequipa. Its streets, squares, and churches have the typical characteristics of a mountain town with a peaceful life and many traditions. Among the main tourist attractions are the thermal baths of La Calera, the Colca planetarium, its colonial church as well as the routes that lead to the Colca Canyon.  Chivay, Peru is a cute unpretentious village where most people spend the night before visiting Colca Canyon the next day. Here are the top things to do in Chivay, Colca Canyon.


The Colca Canyon is located in the south of Peru and is one of the world's deepest canyons. You can visit on a Colca Canyon tour from Arequipa which is approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) away from the "White City".



Basic Facts about Chivay

Chivay is located 163 kilometers by road from the city of Arequipa. This district is also the capital of the Caylloma province, in southern Peru. Geographically it is located on the western slope of the Andes Mountains, in the highest area of the Colca canyon and 3,635 meters above sea level. The town is surrounded by volcanos and is found on the banks of the Colca River.


The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. It reaches a depth of about 3,270 meters (10,730 feet) from the canyon rim to the bottom of the canyon, where the Colca River flows. Depart from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon on Peru vacation packages to see one of the deepest canyons on the planet!

Entrance to Chivay

History of Chivay

The geographical area where Chivay sits was inhabited by three pre-Inca cultures differentiated from each other by their language and clothing. These were the Collaguas, the Cabanas, and the Tapay. During the Inca expansion, the ruler Mayta Cápac (1290 - 1320) arrived in the region to seek alliances and consolidate Inca power in the south. The Inca falls in love with the princess Mama Yachi whom he handcuffed after building a palace and the bridge that connects the current town of Chivay. Thus, the Incas would sustain their alliance. From this union, the famous dance of the 'wititis' would be born, considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity according to Unesco. From Inca times to the present day, Chivay has been divided into three sectors: the Ccapa sector (the main neighborhood), the Urinsaya sector (used for crop fields), and the Hanansaya (in the upper part of the town). During the colony, Chivay and the neighboring towns enjoyed a leading role in the gold and silver mines. However, exploitation brought poverty with it. From those years the colonial bridge over the Apurímac River is still preserved. The church of Santa Úrsula and that of San Sebastián also date from colonial times. Finally, the 'Indian reduction' of Chivay was created during the viceroyalty of Francisco de Toledo (16th century).

During the Republic of Peru, Chivay became a town without gold or silver and its prominence declined. However, as a result of the tourist boom in the beautiful 'Colca Canyon', the town once again generated sources of income other than agriculture and livestock activities. Today, it is one of the most touristic places in Peru. Despite the influence of tourism, its nearly 5,000 inhabitants preserve much of their traditions of Inca origin and prior to the Incas. Chivay is a famous destination among Peruvians and foreigners.


The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. It reaches a depth of about 3,270 meters (10,730 feet) from the canyon rim to the bottom of the canyon, where the Colca River flows. Depart from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon on Peru vacation packages to see one of the deepest canyons on the planet!



Top Things to do in Chivay


The  Colca Canyon route generally starts from Chivay. From Chivay, you start on an incredibly adventurous route to the Patapampa sector, where you have the highest view of the Colca canyon, at 4,800 meters above sea level. From Chivay, you can also visit other sections of the Colca canyon such as the famous viewpoint 'Cruz del Cóndor'.


Chivay is deeply rooted in traditional Andean culture, and you'll often see locals dressed in traditional clothing. This is especially so during festivals and market days. Traditional crafts such as weaving and pottery are still practiced and celebrated. Locals still wear traditional dress and pose with a llama for the obligatory photo of The Colca Canyon on Arequipa tours.

Local Women and an Alpaca


The  Chivay  Church

 The 'Nuestra Señora de la Asunción' church in Chivay was built in the middle of the 18th century and is characterized by the use of volcanic stone. Its simple structure of a single nave crowned by a barrel vault. The church is soberly decorated with religious-themed works that give an account of the date the temple was built.


Chivay hosts bustling market days on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Local farmers and artisan come to sell their products, textiles, and handicrafts. It's a vibrant display of Andean life and a great opportunity to purchase authentic souvenirs when you visit Peru. along the small streets coming off the Plaza de Armas, you can visit bustling local markets to browse stalls.

Chivay Church and Plaza 


Visit The planetarium

 The mountainous geography where Chivay is located is precise for the observation of stars and other stars in the sky. Thus, the 'Planetarium of Chivay' provides a space with the necessary instruments for this activity. It is recommended to go on a night with a clear sky (opening hours are from 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm).


La Calera thermal baths 

Almost 4 kilometers from Chivay are the Calera thermal baths that offer visitors a relaxing break. The hot waters that flow from the five pools come from the Cotallumi volcano. Temperatures begin at 80ºC. but, for the use of tourists, these are tempered down to 38ºC. The residents say that the sulfur, calcium, and zinc in the waters are beneficial for skin diseases as well as muscle and bone pain. The cost of admission is 10 soles ($3 dollars, approximately).


Chivay in The Colca Canyon has natural thermal springs, called "La Calera." These hot springs offer visitors a relaxing and rejuvenating experience amidst the stunning Andean landscapes of the canyon. The springs are perfect after a day of hiking on your Peru adventure tours.  Locals even say the water alleviates muscle tension, improves circulation, and promotes relaxation after exploring the Colca Canyon.

La Calera

Adventure sports 

The mountainous geography of Chivay is ideal for practicing different adventure sports, especially hiking. However, it is also possible to do other sports such as cycling (from the Patapampa sector). In addition, there is a recreational center where you can practice zip lining.


Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts looking for spectacular natural landscapes to hike. On your Peru adventures, you will experience diverse terrain ranging from rugged trails and steep slopes to terraced fields, river crossings, and remote Andean villages.

Hiking Trail in Chivay

Cruz del Cóndor viewpoint 

Almost 60 kilometers from Chivay, in the town of Cabanaconde, there is one of the most famous viewpoints of the Colca canyon. 'Cruz del condor', a place from where, in addition to the beautiful landscape, you can appreciate the flight of several condors that take advantage of the air currents of the site. Preferably it is recommended to go between 8 in the morning and noon. To appreciate this and other attractions of the Colca Valley, you must buy the 'Colca Tourist Ticket'.


Colca Canyon is famous for being one of the best places in the world to see the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), one of the largest flying birds on the planet. On an Arequipa to Colca Canyon tour, you can visit the Condor Cross located along the canyon's edge near Cabanaconde. This is where can witness condors soaring as they rise on the thermals of the canyon.

Condor Cross


Visit the town of Sibayo 

66 kilometers from Chivay is Sibayo, another Andean town with a lot of traditions. It is known as the 'Town of stones' due to its streets, squares, and church made of stone. In this place, you can also visit the archaeological site of Huañaccascca as well as the viewpoint of Santa María. Its inhabitants preserve traditions from their Collagua ancestors. You can also enjoy experiential tourism and homestays here.


Sibayo offers the best experience of traditional Andean life in the heart of the Colca Canyon. This small town combines cultural immersion with outdoor exploration in breathtaking scenery. Sibayo serves as the gateway to outdoor adventures in the Colca Canyon, including hiking trails that lead to scenic viewpoints, waterfalls, and natural hot springs, making it perfect for Peru adventure tours.



The oasis of Sangalle


 53 kilometers from Chivay, near the town of Cabanaconde, is the so-called 'oasis of Sangalle'. This attraction is on one of the slopes of the Colca canyon. It stands out for the scenic beauty of the place as well as a very attractive hiking route. On the way, you can see the Layja-Machai cave, the Chuirca waterfall as well as the Troja Rumi rock. Unlike other parts of the canyon, the climate is warmer.


Sangalle Oasis is a hidden water source located at the base of the Colca Canyon. This lush and tranquil retreat offers a unique contrast to the arid landscapes of the surrounding canyon.  The oasis offers hikers a well-earned resting site during their Colca Canyon Peru adventures.



If you want to visit Chivay or are simply passing through on your Colca Canyon tour, contact us here for more information!