Walk Until the Rock Becomes Purple

Trekking the Colca Canyon – Walk Until the Rock Becomes Purple

She was wearing a loosely fit dress speckled in colours which reaching down to her toes.  Over her shoulder was swung a perfectly knit red blanket which she used as a backpack.  Her dark skin was obviously aged and her palms told stories of long days working in the fields pulling potatoes from the dry, but rich, soil.  She bore an inviting smile which wrinkled her grainy face.  As I asked her direction in Spanish, she pointed up the hill towards a path which lined the upper third of the cliff wall.  “Take that path,” she explained to me in a serious tone, “walk along the cliff where the rocks are yellow.”  Her strict Spanish tone spoke to her importance in this Quechua speaking village. “Continue walking until the rock becomes bright purple, then you’ll know it’s time to begin your decent to llauar.”

Llauar (or Yawar as it is sometimes spelt) is not a town but more of a checkpoint between two valleys in the Colca Canyon.  It sits proudly and vicariously atop a hill overlooking the smooth stones and grass green water of the quickly moving waters below.  Llauar is now been converted into a hotel, complete with hot springs, and a restaurant run by some of the warmest and friendliest people in the world. The old lady who directed me to this haven never told me of its beauties.  She never spoke of the richly coloured rock walls or the sense of awe one would feel standing at the base of the world”s second deepest canyon.  I’m sure that for her, the magnitude and beauty of this place is just as normal as looking into her backyard; it is of course her’s. Despite its beauty Llauar is by no stretch of the imagination a tourist hub, and it is far from the realm four and five star resorts.  For only 15 soles (6 US dollars) you will be treated with your own private bamboo hut and have access to the property’s hot pools which sit directly on top of the rushing waters of the river.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner can also be arranged for only about 3 dollars each.

Getting to Llauar is no easy feat.  From the town of Cabanaconde you will need to hike between 4 and 6 hours down to the Colca Canyon’s base.  From Cabanaconde, you will be hiking straight down into the canyon, and dropping about 2 kilometers of altitude on the hike.

However, if you really want to get the most out of trekking the Colca Canyon you may opt to spend a couple more days within the walls of this natural wonder exploring the many attractions.  One of the most popular routes is from Cabanaconde to Llauar to Oasis (a story on that later) and then back out.

It would be easy to get lost within the walls of the Colca canyon.  However, as many say “sometimes you need to get lost before you can find what you are really looking for.”  This great canyon may be one of the most underrated trekking destinations in the entire world, but be careful most who go into this canyon do so for one day, but stay for a week.


trekking the colca canyon, peru, south america, hiking, colca river
The Colca River