The Cotahuasi canyon is the fourth deepest on the planet. Although it is not as visited as the Colca Canyon (the great tourist attraction of the region is the Colca Canyon), it has many characteristics to be a great destination. During the trip, the visitor will be able to enjoy the Sipia waterfalls, the Luicho thermal baths and the beautiful landscapes of the valley. Most tours depart from the city of Arequipa. They can be obtained in the same city or online.
The Cotahuasi canyon has a depth of 3,535 meters, making it one of the deepest on the planet, surpassed only by the Yarlung Tsangpo canyon (5,590 meters), the Apurimac canyon (4,691 meters) and the Kali Gandaki canyon ( 4,375 meters). The canyon is part of an extensive valley where there are rivers, lagoons, mountains, ravines, terraces and more. At the top, the Solimana volcano (6,093 meters above sea level) and the Coropuna volcano (6,425 meters above sea level) look impressive.
The Cotahuasi Valley is considered a landscape reserve protected by the Peruvian State. The place was inhabited by the Wari culture (7th – 13th century) and later was conquered by the Inca empire who built the first roads, platforms and enclosures there. During the colony, the mineral deposits in the area were exploited. Today, the canyon and the entire environment that surrounds it is an important natural tourist attraction full of culture and beautiful landscapes.
The Cotahuasi canyon is located in the district of the same name, La Unión province, Arequipa region in southern Peru.
Most tours depart from the city of Arequipa, located 368 kilometers by road. There is another alternative route that crosses the provinces of Parinacochas and Paucar del Sara Sara in the Ayacucho region, although this route is longer and more rugged.
The Cotahuasi Valley is an extensive geographic area where Andean towns with many traditions are located, enormous stone forests, waterfalls, a great diversity of flora and fauna, as well as the famous Cotahuasi canyon. The valley receives the waters of the Cotahuasi River, which descends from the two great mountains of the place: Coropuna and Solimana. From the different viewpoints such as ‘the Allhuay viewpoint’ you have a privileged view of the Andean towns and their crop fields that make up this beautiful valley. The town from where the trip to the canyon is organized is ‘Villa de Cotahuasi’.
The ‘Canyon of Wonders’ (it is also known by that name), if the bottom of the river is considered up to the highest peak of one of its mountains, it could be considered the deepest on the planet, reaching 6,093 meters. This peculiar geography is ideal for practicing adventure sports such as rappelling, paragliding, canoeing, cycling, rock climbing and more. The Cotahuasi River descends from the high peaks of Solimana and Coropuna until it flows into the Pacific Ocean, after traveling through the depths of the canyon. While this place is not as popular as the Colca Canyon, for many it is even better.
One of the best attractions of the Cotahuasi Valley are the Sipia Falls. This waterfall is located in the district of Toro, province of La Unión. It has several waterfalls that total up to 500 meters in 3 divisions (one of the highest in Peru). This beautiful place is ideal for rock climbing or cycling. To get there, in addition to the car trip, you must take a short hiking route. Due to the beauty of the entire natural environment, the falls are a great choice for photography.
The Luicho thermal baths are one of the most famous recreational centers in the province of La Unión and the Cotahuasi valley. They are located just 25 minutes from the town of Cotahuasi, capital of the province. The three hot water pools spring from a spring from the Luicho hill, located at the top of the place. Its temperatures vary from 33ºC. up to 38ºC. divided into three pools (two outdoors and one indoors). Its waters are recommended for people with some ailments such as: rheumatism, stress, arthritis, muscle ailments and more. The visit is recommended for tourists, after making the exhausting hike to the Cotahuasi canyon.
The Cotahuasi canyon, in its more than 3 kilometers depth, has up to 12 ecosystems with different altitudinal levels and climates. The most visited point by tourists is the high Andes, which offers a temperate climate that varies from 23ºC. up to 9ºC. Rainfall usually occurs at any time of the year, especially from October to March.
During your visit to the Cotahuasi Canyon do not forget to bring with you:
The best time to visit Cotahuasi Canyon is during the dry season, which runs from April to September. In these months, rain is less frequent, which allows better terrain for the required hikes. The rainy season runs from October to March.
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Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.