At 3,233 meters (10,607 feet) deep, the Colca River Canyon slices through the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Peru for more than 100 kilometers, running twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. The Colca River Canyon offers spectacular vistas from the canyon rim down to the verdant valley far below. During ancient times, native people stored grain in warehouses carved into the walls of the stone canyon. Ruins of these manmade structures can still be seen. Today, Collagua Indians live along the rim of the Colca River Canyon, practicing a lifestyle that has not changed much in the past 2,000 years. Massive condors soar above the canyon at dawn and dusk. These breathtaking creatures with their impressive wingspans are best viewed from the “condor cross” between Pinchollo and Cabanaconde. Meanwhile, the town of Chivay, on the Canyon’s south rim, is rightly famous for its bubbling hot springs.
During the colonial era, more Spanish settlers lived in Arequipa than anywhere else in Peru. Today their traditions linger, giving the 2,328 meter (7638 feet) high city in the south of Peru a distinctly European feel. In fact, the colonial heritage of Arequipa is so strong that all of Arequipa has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. One magnificent treasure is El Convento de Santa Catalina, a large complex of white buildings, vivid gardens, and sweeping plazas that has been in operation for 428 years. The convent once housed as many as 400 nuns, largely drawn from the elite of Arequipa. Even though some 30 sisters remain, travelers are invited to experience the historic complex’s peace and serenity, and to take a one-hour guided tour.
Please note that pre- and post- Amazon cruise itineraries are not included in the Aqua Expeditions Amazon River cruise rates and are priced separately. We will be happy to recommend our preferred tour operators to arrange this component of your Peru holiday.