A visit to the Colca Canyon can be easily integrated into your trip through southern Peru. The Canyon is one of the deepest in the world. Depending on where you look from and how you measure, it is more than 3000m deep. From the Condor viewpoint it is “only” 1200m but that is still more than enough.
For a visit there are many options. The nearest big city is Arequipa. You don’t have to go back to Arequipa afterwards. There are also options to go to Lake Titicaca or to Cusco.
We had booked a 2-day tour. Our tour consisted of a visit to the thermal bath, overnight stay in Chivay, dinner with dance show (we skipped that and went to the planetarium/observery), visit of the Condor viewpoint and on to Puno.
If you like to hike, there are also tours that include hiking. The area is surrounded by several active volcanoes. Maybe you will even find a smoking one.
A holiday should always include some relaxation. A good way to do this is in warm thermal water. The thermal bath is only a few kilometres away from Chivay. Especially if you come from Arequipa, you are not yet used to the more than 3500m altitude and should start the day relaxed anyway.
Planetarium and Observatory
In the Colca Canyon area you’re in the middle of nowhere. That means low light pollution and good visibility of the night sky. If you stay overnight in Chivay, you should definitely go to the planetarium and observatory. Unfortunately there is no website as far as I know but back then it was open every day.
It started with an introduction to the starry sky and what the Incas saw there. Then we went to the planetarium for a presentation. Super old technique, a metal cylinder with holes and in the cylinder a light bulb, which projects the stars on the dome. Afterwards we went outside. In the night sky we were shown different constellations, like the Southern Cross, the Scorpio and many more with a beam. Afterwards we could observe Moon, Saturn and Jupiter through a telescope.
It was a very familiar atmosphere and you could see that they did it for passion and joy. And after our tour there, we saw the lama in the Milky Way again and again on our journey. You can find the planetarium and observatory here: https://goo.gl/maps/GVS3LpojAi7UTKVs9
Mirador Cruz del Condor
Even without Condore the viewpoint is already very good, because here it goes down 1200. The real action starts early in the morning. From the viewpoint Cruz del Cóndor you can observe the mighty condors. The span of the Andean condors can be more than 3m. A great spectacle when these huge birds glide through the canyon. Be prepared for the fact that there are countless other tourists there. But the good thing is, tourists can’t fly, so it doesn’t disturb the spectacle too much.