Packing list for a Colca Canyon hike
Trekking into Colca Canyon, Peru, the world’s deepest canyon, is relatively easy because there are small villages a short day’s trek apart. At these villages, guesthouses are ready to provide hikers with hearty country meals, bottled water, beds, and the occasional hot springs.
So, hikers didn’t need to carry much into Colca Canyon. Here’s what we hauled on our hike:
Lots and lots of water
While hiking, we guzzled 3 liters of water per person in each direction, and we would have, should have drunk more if we’d had it. We filled our water bottles and bought more. This was in addition to tea and beer at the guesthouses. And we weren’t in the canyon in the dry season, when you need more water.
Water is more expensive (10 soles for a 2 L bottle in 2012) in the villages at the bottom of the canyon, but not so expensive that we felt we had to buy all our water ahead in Cabanaconde.
If you’re thinking of filtering, we didn’t find any water sources on the trail to LLahuar besides the Rio Colca at the canyon bottom.
There are no ATMs in any of the Colca Canyon villages, nor in Cabanaconde. Bring enough cash with you on your hike, 100 to 125 soles a day per person should give you a margin of safety, plus whatever you’ll need while Cabanaconde and for transportation.
On the trail, there’s nowhere to buy food except the villages, which are few and far between. A GORP trail mix (good ol’ raisins and peanuts) will taste like heaven on the trail, and will give you the salt, sugar, and protein that does your body good. The to-go sandwiches we got from Kuntur Wassi hotel in Cabanaconde were awful but kept us from feeling faint. A better choice would be a few hard boiled eggs, loaves of bread, and corn nuts.
Bring our map and guide for the trail Cabanaconde to Llahuar, or pick up one from one of the hotels or hostels in town if you’re going further.
We bring binoculars on most of our travels, but have never been happier to have them with us (well, perhaps in the nosebleed seats of baseball games). Binoculars allowed us to see nesting Andean condors on the canyon walls and torrent ducks rafting on the river rapids.
Sunburn happens more quickly at the canyon’s high altitude and there’s very little shade, so slather sunblock abundantly.
Long layers and a hat
If you’re pale like me, then lightweight, light colored, long-sleeved shirt and pants, and a hat or bandana to shade the back of your neck may seem crazy in the heat, but ultimately will be wiser than sunburn.
First Aid kit
We always travel with a travel-sized first aid kit and hope you do too.
You’ll need a suit for the hot springs, assuming that you don’t go when it’s “no piscina” in Llahuar like we did.
Comfy change of clothes.
After a hard hike, we were eager to change out of our dusty, salt-ringed hiking gear, if only to sleep.
What’s on your packing list for a long day’s hike?