The small town of Chivay, gateway to the Colca Canyon, lies four hours to the north of Arequipa at an altitude of 3,600 metres. The Colca canyon is deep – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and the second deepest canyon in the world at a depth of 3,191 metres, or about two miles!
We arrived in Chivay, and immediately found ourselves short of breath due to the altitude – 300 or so metres higher than Cusco. I developed a throbbing headache and my mother (whom I am travelling with for a few weeks) briefly needed bottled Oxygen. It was worth the pain as the Colca Canyon is without doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen – surrounded by snow capped 6,000 metres Andean peaks, it is surely one of the natural wonders of the world. The sight of Condors soaring over the Canyon from Cruz del Condor is something I will never forget.
Note: For the record buffs amongst you, the deepest canyon in the world is the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru, 163 metres deeper than the Colca Canyon with a depth of 3,354 metres.