Attractions & Activities In Arequipa & Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon ranks in the top three on two counts: not only is it one of the three deepest canyons on Earth, but it’s also one of the three most-visited destinations in Peru. With breath-stealing scenery, ample hiking opportunities and exotic wildlife, it’s no great mystery why this canyon is so popular. From the plunging walls of this vast fissure – far deeper than those of the Grand Canyon – to the rugged depths of the desert-dry gorge, life crawls, hops, flies, burrows and slithers.
Chief among the feathered denizens of this epic canyon is the majestic Andean condor. One of the world’s biggest flying birds, the Andean condor’s wingspan often stretches to 10 feet. In recent years, there has been a drive to increase the population of this endangered species, who can be spied at close range – gliding between the walls – here in the canyon. The condor is joined in Colca Canyon by several other notable bird species, including the Chilean flamingo, the Andean goose and the giant hummingbird – the largest hummingbird on Earth.
Among the jagged, rocky outcroppings are even more interesting creatures including vizcacha, a rabbit-like rodent that can be seen hopping gregariously, and the vicuña, golden camelid ancestor of the modern alpaca, whose luxe, ultra-fine wool is spun into an impossibly soft and extremely expensive fiber. A single jacket made from vicuña wool can fetch prices in excess of $20,000! The vicuña’s covetable coat saw it hunted to near extinction and protective measures had to be implemented. Nowadays, vicuñas are rounded up and sheared during annual community harvests known as chaccus. These events play a key role in helping to preserve the species.
With real-life animals that trump anything found at the petting farm, the Colca Canyon will be a surefire hit among nature-loving children and is a particularly fitting inclusion for family tours to Peru.
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