The World’s Greatest Canyons: Cotahuasi Canyon and Colca Canyon, Peru

I’m a fan of the Grand Canyon, but I’ve visited there a few times now and I’m looking for something new. Where can I find a canyon that puts the Grand to shame?

Jun 19, 2013
Outside Magazine
Cotahuasi canyon hiking canyons mexico

   Photo: Rafal Cichawa/Shutterstock


In the Peruvian Andes, these two canyons are a two-for-one deal. Both are located near the city of Arequipa, and within striking distance of Machu Picchu-bound travelers; both are more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

The Colca is more famous and much more frequently visited—it’s known for its Incan and pre-Incan history and for the presence of the otherwise rare Andean Condor—but both are accessible to travelers. The town of Chivay is the local jumping-off point for Colca Canyon, but tours and local buses also depart from Arequipa, where rental cars are available too. The small rim-side village of Cabanaconde is a good spot for a short, tough hike down into the canyon itself.