It is the world’s second deepest canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US, but much shorter in length. Statistics aside, Colca Canyon was special to us due to its rich history, culture, ruins and tradition.
The deep, sunny and hot valley weather contrasts with the cool and dry hills above producing frequent updrafts on which soaring condors often float by at close range. A large family of Andean Condors nests by the rocky outcrop at Cruz del Condor and effortlessly swooped over our heads with barely a flap of their wings.
The local people are descendants of the Cabanas and the Collagua whose conflicting cultures used to distinguish themselves by performing cranial deformations. But these days fortunately for them, hats differentiate their ancient identities. In the east end of the canyon the white hats worn by the women are usually woven from straw and decorated with lace, sequins and medallions. At the west end, the cotton hats have rounded tops and are intricately embroidered.
The Incas have left behind the remains of their brilliance and labor with some of the most heavily terraced hillsides on earth where in the middle canyon the landscape is dominated by agriculture using ancient techniques similar to their forefathers. The sheer number of terraces carved into the mountainsides hundreds of years ago with hand tools and sweat is simply incomprehensible.
Insert ox plowing video