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Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Pittsburgh...
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Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Has anyone hiked Colca Canyon Without a Guide? I read a blog post about some guys that hiked it themselves and they made a step by step outline which seems too good to be true. Wondering if anyone here has done this hike alone. Or if you did it with a Guide, was this a hike you could have done alone?

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Paris, Canada
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1. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

We went without a guide. There are many options.This website helped us plan:

http://www.pachamamahome.com/cabanaconde.htm

Here is the relevant part of my (long) trip report:

We took a bus to Cabanaconde at 11 am with Reyna (17 soles). The scenery is great. We traveled across the high Andean plateau reaching a high point of 4800 meters at the Mirador de los Volcanes. Although we were on a public bus it stopped there for 5 minutes so we went to the viewpoint. Actually, we tried to run but at that altitude that is impossible! We saw lots of sheep, alpacas, llamas and herds of vicunas. And flamingos. We also stopped briefly in Chivay. They have some very odd statues. And lots of people in traditional clothing. When we arrived in Cabanaconde we were right away approached by a man who sold us the boleto turistico (nobody would ask for it... not in the canyon, not at the Cruz del Condor... but the same guy came up to us again a few days later when we were boarding the bus to return to Arequipa). It is not cheap (70 soles). We stayed at Villa Pastor on the Plaza. 30-40 soles for a double room. But wifi only next door in the restaurant (and you have to spend 10 soles). And they charged 3 soles to store one backpack. They did have a map of the Colca Canyon and gave us some directions. I had already researched a lot so I thought we were all set. So the next morning we walked to Mirador Achachiwa. Cabanaconde has several amazing viewpoints of the canyon. We started hiking to the bottom of the canyon. There was a new bridge but we went to the old bridge as well as from there you can see a geyser. The trail to Llahuar was straightforward. We arrived after 4 hours of hiking. Llahuar really only has one lodge and a room was 40 soles. Basic room with a great view. Lunch and dinner were vegetarian and cost 10 soles each. The lodge has hot springs by the river. The next day we wanted to walk to Fure but that is where our problems started. We were told that the road to Fure was blocked by a landslide at Llatica. So we had to take a detour to get to Fure. It meant going back to the main road and hiking up the road to the trail to Fure. We really enjoyed hiking in the canyon. We loved the majestic views, blooming cacti, the red-orange-brown-grey rock colours, the yellow birds and at one point we may have seen condors but they were far away. But at the start of the trail to Fure there were a few bad omens... First I sat down without noticing a tiny cactus. That resulted in my husband pulling spines out of my butt. Luckily the trail was deserted! Then we had to walk around a cow carcass. When we finally arrived in Fure we saw nobody. We found a hostel but it was closed. We started to notice how quiet the village was. We called out. Nothing. It was deserted. Abandoned. It was a bit creepy. We had wanted to stay overnight and hike to the Huaruro waterfalls. But as it looked like we couldn't stay there and we were low on water we had to keep moving. We knew Sangalle was still far and we hoped to be able to sleep in Malata which was still far as well. So we hiked back to the road and followed it to Malata. Luckily we found water on the way (we had a UV pen). And the scenery to and from Fure was amazing.

In Malata we found a hostel/restaurant. But no room at the inn! Still, we were very happy to be able to eat as we were down to a few raisins. Luckily they did not grab a guinea pig... there were lots of them in cages. So down we went to Sangalle, the oasis. We stayed at Jardin El Eden. Not the best choice but then everything in Sangalle seemed very touristy and people were not too friendly. Eden looks nice: a large pool and a garden with flowers. But the huts are basic (40 soles) and not too clean. The shower was okay but the toilet was disgusting. The food was expensive (15 soles for spaghetti, a meat dish would have been 20 soles) and not good (and we had had nothing but great food everywhere). The owner was surly and was drinking beer constantly, even for breakfast... Breakfast was 10 soles but at least we got pancakes and tea (not beer!). We were exhausted. We walked from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm that day.

The next morning we started hiking out of the canyon early before it got too hot. It is steep (2,160 m to 3,287 m). So we do what we always do: slow and steady. It took us 3.5 hours and then we still had to walk back to Cabanaconde. We collapsed at a small restaurant on the plaza and had an amazing menu with trout for 7 soles. The local men at the next table congratulated us on our trek. We had actually planned another walk for the afternoon but we needed to just relax so that is what we did.

The next morning we took a 7 am Reyna bus to the Cruz del Condor. Apparently January is not the best month to see condors. The views were great though and we walked down to the lowest point and waited. It took a while but we did get to see two condors and they were very close and posed for us as well. They were juveniles and we didn't see any adult birds. Still very impressive. We were going to flag down the next bus to Arequipa that was supposed to pass around 9:20 am. A tourist bus offered to take us for the same price (15 soles). We didn't realize that we would stop in two villages and at the volcano viewpoint on the way back. The first village was Yanque where we witnessed organized but interesting ethnic dancing. Also colorful tapestries on the ground and local women dressed in traditional clothes posing with alpacas, llamas and even a falcon. Quite touristy but we enjoyed the break. Then we stopped in Chivay for lunch. The restaurant was expensive so we went to a smaller place nearby and had an amazing lunch for 6 soles. It started raining and so the views were not as good this time.

chicago
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2. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Many people do it without a guide, it's very straightforward, there are several possible routes. Hostels in Cabanaconde are very helpful with information and maps. Check out Pachamama hostel website, a lot of information there which greatly helped me with planning our trek.

Pittsburgh...
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3. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Thank you, this sounds like a fantastic experience!

London, United...
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4. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Similarly to Sonia I hiked Colca solo from Cabanaconde - doing the same route she did on day one, then simply Llahuar to Sangalle on day two, where I think I also ended up at El Eden due to turning right instead of left on arrival in the oasis and being too achy from too much downhill to look for the entrances to the other places! On day three I hiked out, leaving early to avoid the heat. Everything was pretty well-marked and a nice old man in a little hamlet up from Llahuar showed me a shortcut to avoid distance on the road, which isn't busy at all but is a bit less nice to walk on than the paths. But I would recommend getting some sort of map from wherever you stay in Cabanaconde and advice, and take PLENTY of water as it's hot and dusty down there and the lodges are the only place to buy water - so if you run out during the day you're stuffed.

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5. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Thanks for your encouraging post, I was wanting to hike in Colca alone as a woman but wasn't sure really how safe it was. I've been told by a few people perhaps it wasn't that safe so was getting discouraged.

Did you pass many other travellers or locals on your way or did you rarely see anyone? I'll be there end of October and assuming it may be quiet then. Cheers.

Brussels, Belgium
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6. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

There are lots of hikers in Colca canyon, and of course local people live there.

Paris, Canada
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7. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

We met a few locals and a few tourists. But not many. That was in January (low season). If you are worried discuss your plans with your hostel in Cabanaconde. Most hostels can help you plan your trip. They have maps, can give you tips...

Los angeles
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8. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Get a guide. You are doing this alone as a solo woman. Just because others have done so does not mean it is just plan stupid. If you get sick (after all you are in Peru) or hurt you need backup.

chicago
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9. Re: Hiking Colca Canyon Without A Guide

Ariel,

if you hiked alone anywhere else, it will be easy for you. It is safe and trail is easy to follow. If you haven't hiked alone before, join others or go with a guide. We had dinner at Pachamama hostel in Cabanaconde the evening before our hike (we stayed somewhere else) and there were several groups planning treks (in May). the hostel gives maps and can arrange a guide. you can contact them in advance, they are very helpful (and lots of info on their website).

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