he Colca Valley seems to be a place stuck in time, with the towns created in the XVI century scattered all over the area. These towns inhabited by the descendants of the Collaguas and Cabanas are holders of a great history and traditions that have lasted throughout the years. Moreover, the valley has a variety of natural attractions that you can enjoy during your visit.
You can set out on tours that will take you to know the main places in the valley and its canyon from the Town of Chivay, capital of the Province of Caylloma, which is located in the mid part of the Valley.
Tombs of Choquetico:
They were built by the Collaguas in the year 1200 AD approximately. They are formed by holes dug in the ground on the steep slopes of the Cabanaconde Hill, at 27 kilometres from Chivay.
Vantage Point of the Condor’s Cross:
it is an awesome natural vantage point from where you will be able to appreciate the majestic glide of the condor and a spectacular vista of the Colca Valley too, as well as of the strong run of the homonymous river in the canyon’s depths. A large cross has been built in the place, along with a small stone breastwork for tourists’ safety.
Castle of Callalli:
it is conformed by a series of geological formations created by the action of the wind and the rain in an area located at 3850 metres above sea level. This place is roughly at 43 kilometres from Chivay.
COLCA - PERU
he Colca Canyon is a natural wonder located in the Province of Caylloma, Department of Arequipa. It is considered the second deepest canyon in the world with its 3180-metre depth. You have to travel for about 30 kilometres from the Town of Chivay in order to visit it.
The region shows geography of wild and particular beauty, with that huge crack cutting the landscape, surrounded by the Volcanic Cordillera, and from where the snow-capped Ampato (6310 metres) and Coropuna (6426 metres) Volcanoes can be glimpsed.
Visitors will be able to enjoy these spectacular settings or to adventure to the base of the canyon to ride through the impetuous waters of the Colca River. The best time of the year to visit the region is between May and October, when the amount of water is suitable for navigation, thus luring rafting devotees to cleave its waters.
You will have to descend from the District of Cabanaconde, from Pampa San Miguel, the Vantage Point of Tapay, or through Sangalle in order to reach the level of the river. The upper and mid parts of the river present rapids class II to IV, ideal for the practice of adventure sports.
COLCA - PERU
he Colca Valley, with its approximately 100 metres of length, occupies only a sector of the basin of the Colca River, comprised between the Districts of Callalli and Huambo. Altitudes along the valley are pretty variable, having its highest point on the top of the Ampato Volcano, at 6310 metres above sea level, and the lowest in the confluence of the Colca and Andamayo Rivers, at 970 metres above sea level.
This valley is situated over the South American tectonic plaque; therefore, it is regarded as a very active zone from a geological viewpoint. Likeswise, it contains the volcanic massif of Hualca-Hualca and the Ampato and Sabancaya Volcanoes, the latter being currently active.
There is a series of towns whose foundations go back to the colonial period that are inhabited by the descendants of the Collaguas and Cabanas ethnic groups, who have managed to preserve their rich cultural tradition, disseminated throughout the zone. Nowadays the people of the valley make use of the system of farming terraces let to them by their ancestors, which have been used for hundreds of years now.
Although all the towns offer a variety of attractions to visitors, the most visited ones are Chivay and Cabanaconde. You can reach the Vantage Point of the Condor’s Cross, where you will get an amazing view of the entire valley and the canyon, though mostly of the gliding of the condor, from the latter.
The upper part of the valley, comprised by the Districts of Callalli, Sibayo, Tuti and Canocota, has breeding of livestock, such as cattle, sheep and South American camelids, as its main economic activity, although it is mostly dedicated to self consumption.
The mid part of the valley has a more developed agriculture dedicated to self consumption and trading for being the amplest zone. Amongst the main produces farmed in here we have potatoes, maize, beans, alfalfa, wheat and barley. This zone is conformed by the Districts of Chivay, capital of the Province of Caylloma, Yanque, Achola, Maca, Coporaque, Ichupampa, Lari and Madrigal. It is in this part of the valley that we find large areas utilising the system of farming terraces.
Cabanaconde, Huambo and Tapay are the Districts which form the lower part of the valley. Their economic activities are directed toward agriculture too, although to the cultivation of orchards in this case.
Amongst the main places you should visit we have:
Thermal Waters of La Calera:
this compound administered by the Municipality of Chivay has several pools of thermo-medicinal waters with high amounts of sulphur and iron, which help on the treatment of illnesses such as rheumatism and arthritis. They are located at approximately 5 minutes from the City.
Churches in the Colca Valley:
the Colca Valley offers its visitors a journey through the region’s history. Besides the customs and traditions that have been kept in the way of life of its population, it is also possible to travel in time with visits to the beautiful churches dating back to the colonial period. Amongst the main churches we have the following:
On the left bank of the river:
Church of Our Lady of Asuncion in Chivay:
it has a beautiful baroque altarpiece of the XVII century, a monstrance dating back to the XVI century and several mural paintings, amongst which we can appreciate the representations of the Apostles and the Baptize of Christ, painted between the XVII and XVIII century. Chivay is located 150 kilometres away from Arequipa.
Church of the Immaculate Conception in Yanque:
it is a beautiful sample of crossbred baroque, which is believe to have been built in the year 1690. It has a series of neoclassical and polychrome altarpieces and a processional silver cross of the XVI century. It is located in the main plaza of the district, at 10 kilometres from Chivay.
Church of Santa Ana in Maca:
it has a gorgeous façade adorned with arches, whilst it keeps beautiful baroque altarpieces and a Crucified Christ dating back to the XVI century on the inside. Maca is a town situated at the foot of the Sabancaya Volcano and the snow-capped Hualca-Hualca Mountain, 23 kilometres West of Chivay.
Church of San Sebastian in Pinchillo:
you will be able to appreciate beautiful and colourful, both renaissance and baroque, altarpieces on the inside, as well as a neat work on one of its doors that resembles a giant altarpiece, hence contributing to the town’s fame, all ready renowned for their fine-looking minute altarpieces. Pinchillo is located at 27 kilometres from Chivay.
Church of San Pedro Alcántara in Cabanaconde:
it is a beautiful wooden edifice built in the XVII century that has imposing neoclassical doorways. There are a few images of the Crucified Christ and of the Coronation of the Virgin dating back to the XVIII century on the inside, besides a collection of canvases belonging to the School of Cusco. This town marks the beginning of the Cabana towns and it is situated at 65 kilometres from Chivay.
On the right bank of the river:
Church of Santiago (James) Apostle in Coporaque:
this is the oldest religious precinct in the Colca Valley. Its façade shows a distinctive Italian renaissance style from the XVI century. There are vestiges of the original main altarpiece on the inside, along with beautiful images of the XVI century that represent the Coronation of the Virgin, the Virgin of La Candelaria, Santa Ursula, La Dolorosa and San Antonio Abad, amongst others. Coporaque is situated 8 kilometres West of Chivay.
Church of the Purest Conception in Lari:
it is the largest church in the valley, and that is why it is called the Cathedral of Colca. It was built in the mid XVIII century and a cluster of polychrome altars, a magnificent pulpit and a beautiful statue of the Immaculate Conception are kept on the inside, along with gorgeous samples of mural paintings. Lari is located 27 kilometres West of Chivay.
Church of Santiago in Madrigal:
it is one of the oldest churches in the Colca Valley, built by the end of the XVI century and constituting a great sample of colonial architecture. Madrigal is located 50 kilometres West of Chivay.