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Views of Colca Canyon and Andean Condors

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 11-10-2022

Andean condors in Peru live in places with windy conditions where they can easily glide on air currents in search of their next meal. Despite what their name suggests, these majestic birds not only inhabit high elevations in the Andes Mountains, but one of the best places to spot these magnificent birds is in The Colca Canyon near Arequipa. On this tour, not only will we see the stunning Colca Valley, with its patchwork scenery and ample terraces, we can see this magnificent bird in all its glory as it soars over the valley and its impressive canyon.





We will set off on a Colca Canyon tour from Arequipa, a beautiful colonial city. Arequipa is famous for buildings and churches constructed from the white volcanic ash from Arequipa’s volcanos, called "sillar". The city’s historic plaza is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.


Sillar buildings in Arequipa


On the 3-hour drive from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, you will pass through highland landscapes and the Aguada Blanca National Vicuña Reserve. Herds of the elegant vicuña roam by the side of the road. Keep your eyes peeled for viscachas, native rodents that look much like chinchillas, at the Patapampa Pass and viewpoint.


Vicuña in Aguada Blanca National Park


The Colca Valley


The Colca Valley is fertile with extensive pre-Columbian terraces and unspoiled, traditional Andean villages. Chivay is the main town in the Colca Valley and the linking point between the two sides of Colca Canyon. The city offers a lively market, shops selling high-quality handicrafts, and a short walk from the hot springs of La Calera. From Chivay, most tours head west through other small Andean villages to arrive at the Mirador Cruz del Condor, one of the best places to spot the Andean condor.


Colca Traditional Dress


However, those expecting complete isolation in the canyon's depths will be surprised that small rural communities have endured and persevered here for centuries, and continue to live out a canyon will be astonished that small rural communities have endured and persevered here for centuries and continue to live out a very traditional lifestyle between the arid quarry-like ridges and the surprisingly lush plots which lie by the Colca River.


Colca Valley


Mirador Cruz Del Condor

Descending to a slightly more profound part of the canyon, around a 1-hour drive from Chivay, we will reach the Cruz del Condor lookout point. This impressive viewing platform is ideal for amateur and professional birdwatching and the best spot in Colca Canyon to regularly observe the magnificent Andean condor. Unfortunately, the condor population is dwindling due to the loss of habitat in parts of South America.


Andean Condor



However, in the Colca Canyon, visitors have the advantage of being able to see the birds at close range as they fly past the cliff edges. These enormous condors have a wingspan of over 3m, making them one of the largest flying birds in the world. The Andean condors soar the thermals of the Colca Canyon, and this is one of the best places to see the birds in their natural habitat. May through December is the region's peak dry season for spotting condors. The sight of condors soaring gracefully through the Colca canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 


Condor Over Colca Canyon



Contact our Travel Designers to plan an epic, custom trip to Colca Canyon, Peru, and Colca Canyon, Peru, and any other destinations in Latin America to spot condors and other rare wildlife in South America.