martes, 23 de enero de 2018

Cotahuasi Canyon: discovers the world's deepest canyon

If we are following the route towards the south that takes us to the white city of Arequipa, it is time to leave the road that borders the Pacific coast and go into the deepest canyon in the world (3,562 meters): the Cotahuasi Canyon.

Located 200 km northwest of Arequipa (about 9 hours by car), this canyon is twice the depth of the Grand Canyon of Colorado and is accessed through the town of Cotahuasi, at 2620 meters above sea level.

For trekking to the Cotahuasi Valley and Canyon we recommend a minimum of 3 days, although there are tours organized for one week. The best dates to visit the canyon are from May to September.

Cotahuasi canyon, how to get Cotahuasi Canyon

On our way to Cotahuasi we will find some curiosities such as the petroglíficos del toro muerto (dead bull petroglyphs), with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic representations, belonging to the Wari culture (700 BC), or the dinosaur footprints of Querullpa, which correspond to a 150-year-old theropod.

To the northwest of Cotahuasi and beyond the canyon, there are the villages of Tomepampa and Alca, 10 and 20 km away, respectively, which offer simple lodgings to visitors. Before reaching Alca, we find the thermal baths of Luicho, place where from S/. 4 we can have a delicious dip in hot water.

Cotahuasi canyon, how to get Cotahuasi Canyon

From the Plaza de Cotahuasi you can take buses for about S/5 that leave at 6.30 a. m. towards Sipia, and from there you can make excursions through the depths of the canyon to, after 45 minutes of ascent, see the waterfall of Sipia, which has a fall of 150 meters high.

Walking we will also reach the village of Chaupo, with remains of pre-Inca houses and continue through the cactus forest of Judeopampa, one of the most spectacular places in Cotahuasi, the agricultural area of Mayo, famous for its wine and fruit production.

Later, after a brief ascent, we will arrive at the village of Velinga, capital of the district of Quechualla, where we will find all kinds of services, including internet network.

If you want to return to Cotahuasi, buses leave from Niñochaca Bridge every day at 9.00 am.

The surroundings of the canyon have impressive views of the snow-capped Coropuna and Solimana. We can also dedicate a day to visit the community of Pampamarca, which after a two-hour climb through a steep path, will lead us to a series of rock formations that erosion gave rise to forms that the locals attribute to religious figures.

Cotahuasi canyon, how to get Cotahuasi Canyon

There are buses that leave Cotahuasi Square in the morning and in the afternoon to visit Pampamarca in a two-hour ride for a modest price of S/5. From there they will leave us for a while to visit the Uscume Falls, which have a fall of 80 metres high.

Cotahuasi Canyon trek - Tips and Recommendations

For trekking in the Cotahuasi Valley and Canyon we must take into account a series of considerations:

The first is to have a good physical condition, because although these paths are not so complicated, we will be sometimes climbing elevated paths.

There are points above 3,000 meters above sea level, so caution is advised for those suffering from altitude sickness. In these cases there are two remedies, one traditional and the other chemical. The traditional one is to chacchar (chew) coca leaf, and the second one is to acquire in any pharmacy a medicine called sorojchi pils, prescribed for these ailments of altitude.

Remember also the sunglasses, sunscreen, cap or hat, special sneakers for trekking (Merrel, North Face, Mizuno...) and warm clothes, because at night we will be below 15 degrees.

If you want to get to Cotahuasi from Arequipa there are some companies such as Reyna or Cromotex, which leave from the city at 16.00 hours.

This journey is 420 km long and takes about 12 hours. In the middle of this route you will find a mountain pass (4,500 meters above sea level) from where you can observe the imposing mountains with glaciers of Coropuna and Solimana. 

To return from Cotahuasi to Arequipa there are buses that leave from the land terminal at 5.00 pm.

Now that we have known one of the most remote places on the planet, it is time to fill our stomachs and get to know the second most important city in the country, the white city of Arequipa and get closer to the Colca Canyon.

Esteban García, Peru Travels Blog
January 2018
info@perutravelsblog.com

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