The Canyon del Colca trek is famous and remains a must see if you’re around Arequipa and you have enough time. The trek could last 3d/2n or 2d/1n according to the time you have and your wish. I chose to hike during 3days following this trek: Cabanaconde – Lluahar – Sangall – Cabanaconde.
If you’re interested in the 2days trek, the path is Cabanaconde – Sangall – Canabaconde.
Preparations before trekking
As you can imagine, for a 3 days trekking, you need some preparations and equipment. This is why I suggest you my checklist (don’t hesitate to add something in the comments if you think something is missing):
Protect yourself from the sun: sunscreen, sunglasses, cap
Bring at least 1L of water per person and some snacks ( cakes, fruits, cereals bars, dried fruits, etc.). Except in the lodges, you won”t be able to buy something to drink or eat.
Take hiking clothes: hiking shoes and trousers. Be aware that it might be very hot in the canyon during the day.
Download Maps.me app: it’s free and the trail is visible on it
Take a map of the canyon (you can easily find it at Cabanaconde in a hostel or tourism information)
Be use to hike. The hikes are not difficult, but hiking for 3 days is exhausting.
Travel light: Be aware that you have to carry everything you take with you. It’s possible to leave your belongings at the hostel in Cabanaconde
Hike with a group (at least with another person): The trek is easy, I did it without a guide, only with a friend. However, for every trek, I advise you to hike at least with someone else.
Buy your ticket: The park entry costs 70 soles/pers. Some persons leave Cabanaconde really early in the morning to avoid the fee entrance. The last day, at the end of the hike, a guide controlled us to be sure we bought the entrance ticket. These controls are more and more frequent now, especially during the high season.
The departure: Cabanaconde
To arrive in Cabanaconde, we took the bus from Arequipa (journey of 6h, costs 17soles). There are several departures every day from Arequipa: 9 am, 11 am and 2 pm. If you want to avoid touristic buses (which are more expensive), there are two local companies: Reyna and Andalucia. The buses leave from buses terminal and you can buy your ticket 1h or 2 before the departure.
To come back, it is exactly the same. The two companies (Reyna and Andalucia) leave every day at 7 am, 9 am and 2 pm. To go to Arequipa, we bought our ticket when you came back from the trek, around 1h before the bus departure.
This schedule is those from autumn 2018. Even if the bus frequency doesn’t change, the time might be different for you. Don’t hesitate to check the schedule with the bus company.
Day 1: Cabanaconde – Lluahar
height difference : – 1 200m
estimated time: 5h
real time: 4h
After a night in Cabannaconde, we leave in the morning at 6h45 for Lluahar. The direction is indicated by the Plaza de Armas (the main and only square of the village). The direction Lluahar is often indicated either on stones or on signs. We start walking on a flat trail. It’s perfect to warm us our legs. After a few minutes, we start going down. The trail is steep but regular until the geyser. Then the trail goes flatter and larger, like a road for cars. It’s pleasant to walk until the lodge along the river.
For this first day, we waked 4h until Lluahar lodge. This lodge is the only in Lluahar which has access to thermal baths (hot and cold). It’s impossible to miss, it is located at the village entrance and someone from the lodge is usually waiting for trekkers. The accommodation is simple: no internet, electricity from 6 pm until 9 pm.
Price for 1 night/pers: 25 soles
Price for 1 meal (lunch or dinner): 10 soles
Price for 1 breakfast: 7 soles
Day 2: Lluahar – Sangall Oasis
height difference : +/- 800m
estimated time: 5h
real time: 4h30
For the second day, you have two possibilities: take a collectivo (3 soles) to avoid 2h of climb or climb yourself. In any case, you have to take the same way you took yesterday to arrive at Lluahar and go back to Pallca ( the last village you cross before arriving at the lodge). At the village entrance, there is a bus stop. This is where the collectivo should stop between 8ham and 8h30am. I say “should” because the collectivo never came when we did this trek. So, everybody had to walk.
The hike is on the driveway, on your left after the bus stop. We walk around 2h before arriving at the top. Then, we continue on the same road, but it becomes flatter. After 1h walking, we can see a sign “sangall oasis” indicating the right. This is where the way down starts and lasts at least 1 hour. It seems endless for us. The road is under the sun, really narrow and full of rocks. Fortunately, we can see the oasis getting closer which gives us courage.
At Sangall, we were at Paraison Sangall. The bungalows are simple (no internet, electricity from 6 pm to 9 pm) but this lodge has a beautiful swimming pool.
Price for 1 night/pers: 20 soles
Price for 1 lunch (a soup): 5 soles
Price for 1 dinner: 15 soles
Price for 1 breakfast to take away: 6 soles
Day 3: Sangall Oasis – Cabanaconde
height difference : + 1 200m
estimated time: 3h
real time: 3h
The last day is harder. We are tired because of the 2 previous days and the climbing is really hard. TO avoid hiking in the sun, we leave Sangall at 5 am, when the sun rises. The climb starts immediately and stays steep until the end at the top. We climb during 2h30 in total, and we walk 30 mins more to join Cabanaconde. Finally, we arrive at the village around 8 am. We have one hour to eat a real breakfast, take back your backpacks and take the bus at 9 am for Arequipa.
For the last day, if you are too tired to climb, it’s possible to rent donkeys. They carry your backpack and yourself. The departure is around 5h30 from Sangall and you can have the bus from 9 am. You have to ask your hostel to book it for you when you arrive at Sangall.