Climate: The rain season runs from December to March, while the best time to visit if willing to go trekking in the Colca Valley is from April to June. The climate is dry and sunny by day, with cold night. Average temperatures reach 20°C.
Access: Located 150 km (around 4 hours) northeast of Arequipa.
Services: Lodging and restaurants for every taste and budget.
Located in the department of Arequipa, the Colca Valley covers a series of beautiful trekking circuits which have been recently discovered for adventure tourism. The area features a network of practically endless trails that wind through the mountains, linking lovely colonial villages. The area is also studded with beautiful lakes, bizarre stone formations formed by wind erosion and unique flora and fauna such as Andean condors, vicuñas, queñual forests and clumps of yareta plants. The main attraction of the area is without a doubt the chain of snow-capped volcanoes, some of them active: Mount Hualca Hualca (6,025 masl), Sabancaya (5,976 meters) and Ampato (6,288 meters), among others.
Since the time immemorial, the Colca has been home to the Collagua and Cabana tribes, descendants of the Pucará people of the southern highland plains and from the Quechua people of Cusco, who proved to be skillful hydraulic engineers and master builders.
One of the most popular trekking routes in the Colca Valley is the trail that links the town of Cabanaconde and Tapay in a circuit that takes two to three days and gives hikers views of impressive landscapes, Cabana towns such as Cosnihua and Malata, and many pre-Hispanic ruins.
If willing to go trekking in Peru you should follow these recommendations:
- Hikers should get information on the state of trails and the degree of difficulty of the climbing route. It is best to check with the local inhabitants.
- Bear in mind that local inhabitants have different notions of time and distance. The classic response "aquicito nomás" (just around the corner) can mean long hours of trekking up steep slopes.
- Do not pull up or cut live plants or light fires within highland forests.
- Do not move trail signposts.
- Do not hunt or fish during the dry season (trout fishing ban).
- Always inform local authorities or mountain climbing associations in the area of your entry into mountainous areas.
- Never go on climbs or treks unaccompanied.
- Always bring back litter. Leaving it on the mountainside can harm the fragile environment.
- Sunscreen is recommended, plus warm clothing. High altitude sickness known locally as soroche can set in at over 2,500 masl. Take precautions by resting the first day, drink plenty of liquids and avoid heavy food and alcohol.