Arequipa & Colca Canyon as an Active 3-Night Extension
On a recent trip to Peru I had the chance to visit some places that are slightly further off the radar than the iconic Cusco and Machu Picchu. I spent about a week exploring Arequipa, the Colca Canyon, and Lake Titicaca, which was a nice amount of time for a leisurely exploration of all three. Many times, however, our travelers are looking for a nice three-night “extension” to add to their Machu Picchu/Cusco trip. If you’re looking to add a different destination in Peru, including mountain scenery with options for great biking and hiking, a visit to Arequipa and Colca is an excellent choice.
In order to allow ample time for these two places in a 3 night span, it’s recommended to arrive to Arequipa around noon on the first day, and then fly out the fourth day sometime in the afternoon or evening. This allows for plenty of time to get settled, and to allow for land transportation between Arequipa and Colca (about 3 hours). As long as we factor in the logistics (something to which we’re always very attentive at Vaya Adventures), doing this in 3 nights is a really nice timeframe. Here’s how I recommend doing it:
Day 1: Arrive to Arequipa by noon. Have lunch, followed by an afternoon city tour of Arequipa. Arequipa is a very interesting colonial city. Its architectural influence is almost entirely Spanish, which is in stark contrast to Cusco, where the mix of Incan and Spanish is ever-present. Have dinner on the town at one of Arequipa’s great restaurants.
Day 2: Morning departure for Colca. You will be heading to the highest altitude on the trip today – higher even than Cusco. For the adventurous, you can mountain bike downhill from the pass heading to Colca. This is a fantastic excursion with a variety of trails and single track riding. If you prefer a more relaxing journey, you can just continue in the vehicle to Chivay, the main town in the Colca Canyon. Have lunch and explore a bit of Chivay, which has a nice plaza and a market. Arrive to the Colca Lodge (your hotel) by midafternoon for some time in their private hot springs.
Day 3: Hiking in the Colca Canyon. There are a variety of options in the area, from leisurely walks to full-day strenuous hikes. All will let you see some spectacular scenery. Midafternoon arrival back to your lodge for relaxing and more time in the hot springs.
Day 4: Early morning visit to Cruz del Condor to view the massive Andean Condors as they fly past. Depart late morning for Arequipa, enjoying a boxed lunch en route. Take an afternoon flight to Lima and head home or continue your trip.
We love Peru, and there are plenty of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path areas that can be included in your travels. To include the south of Peru in your next trip, give us a call or send us an email and one of our specialists will be happy to help you!