6 - 7
FATMAP difficulty grade
This is the route of the standard 2 or 3-day trek through the Colca Canyon, commonly offered as guided tours but also doable independently.
Accommodations in the canyon are at hostels and campgrounds which should be booked in advance. The trek is typically done counter-clockwise, going first eastward from Cabanaconde.
It's a well-traveled and well maintained trail, descending dramatically with frequent balcony views over the canyon.
After crossing the Colca River on a bridge, the trail begins to contour the forested north side of the gorge, passing a few small shops and guesthouses which offer refreshment and potentially a place to spend the night. Eventually there comes a short but steep climb through some forestry, then the trail emerges on an open hillside and reaches a desert-like plateau, where one snack stand usually operates.
Then the trail tips downward and makes a determined descent to the river at Oasis de Sangalle, which has the main concentration of accommodations in the canyon.
Most trekkers spend the night there. Next comes the grueling hike all the way back to the rim, on seemingly never-ending switchbacks with sparse shade.
Awaking before dawn to beat the heat is recommended.
Once on top, it's a bit farther walking on a dirt road to reach the town.