Located at 180 km (111.8 miles) north of Arequipa, Colca Valley was used to be called
the Valley of the Collaguas which is formed by the river of the same name.
Collaguas river is formed by two rivers called Majes and Camana.
The Collaguas were a pre-Inca tribe that lived in this area.
Accomplished artists in textiles and stone carvings, during the colonial period,
they worked as bricklayers and "hayllis" composers. The current
residents of this valley are heirs of the ancient collaguas crafts.
The valley is enclosed before the canyon and runs from east to west.
The cold waters from the Colca River are coming from the top of the mountains
and on the side banks of the river is a beautiful scenery and lots of cultural
We can visit the carved rocks of Sumbay and Toro
Muerto, where residents pre-dating the Collaguas left their mark in
their drawings of dancers with strange headdresses, animals, condors and other
figures that still mystify us today.
Pre-Incas and Incas inhabitants of this valley used deposits known as
"collcas" to store grain. The valley took its name as a result of the
great number of these collcas. Lots of these collcas can be visited and one of
the most important to visit is the Pumunuta collca, which is
located in a frozen cave.
Influenced by colonialization and religion, the ethnic architecture make the
villages throughout the Colca Valley rich in beauty and charm. The following
towns are recommended to visit: Chivay, Cabanaconde, Huambo, Maca, Achoma,
Yunque, Lari, Coporaque.
In this whole region the beauty of the landscape is formed by
"andenes" (series of steps on the hills used for sowing, technique
used from the times of the Incas, some
with artificial irrigation and others for effects of the rains.)
Here you can also appreciate volcanos and snowy mountains such as
Ampato 6,310 meters above sea level (20,702 feet),
Coropuna 6,425 meters above sea level (21,079 feet),
Solimana 6,117 meters above sea level (20,068 feet), and the
Huallahualca 5,025 meters above sea level (16,468 feet),
On October 13th, 1995, John Reinhard and Antonio Chavez from the Catholic
University of Arequipa discovered, in the peak of the Ampato Mountain, three
mummies very well conserved because of the freezing temperature, they thought it
were Inca's sacrifices. The principal mummy was a maid, called
"Juanita", but they changed the name into
"La Dama de Ampato", you can visit it now at
the Museum inside of this university. (See the history in National
To visit this area, you can go by car from Arequipa with a tourist guide; the
visit will pass through the National Reserves
of Salinas, Aguada Blanca and the Pampa Cañahuas. Also you can take a
tour by plane that overfly the area. You can find lodgings in Chivay and
It is advised to make your visit to this area not shorter then two days, try
to avoid the rainy season from December till March.