Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru, located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Arequipa. It is Peru's third most-visited tourist destination with about 120,000 visitors annually. It is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States at 13,650 ft (4,160 m) depth. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots, and towns founded in Spanish colonial times, still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures. The local people maintain their ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces.
The canyon is home to the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus), a species that has been the focus of worldwide conservation efforts. The condors can be seen at close range as they fly past the canyon walls, and are a popular attraction. 'Cruz del Condor' is a popular tourist stop to view the condors. At this point the canyon floor is 3,960 feet (1,200 m) below the rim of the canyon.
Other notable bird species present in the Colca include the Giant Colibri, the largest member of the hummingbird family, as well as the Andean Goose, Chilean Flamingo, and Mountain Caracara. Animals include vizcacha, a rabbit-sized relative of the chinchilla, zorrino, deer, fox, and vicuña, the wild ancestor of the alpaca. The La Calera natural hot springs are located at Chivay, the biggest town in the Colca Canyon. Other hot springs, some developed for tourist use, are dotted throughout the valley and canyon.
Archeological sites include the caves of Mollepunko above Callalli where rock art (said to be 6,000 years old) depicts the domestication of the alpaca; the mummy of Paraqra, above Sibayo; the Fortaleza de Chimpa, a reconstructed mountaintop citadel that looks down on Madrigal; ruins of pre-Hispanic settlements throughout the valley; and many others.
Cultural attractions include the Wititi festival in Chivay, named as a "cultural heritage" of Peru. The Colca is also well known for crafts: goods knitted from baby alpaca fiber and a unique form of embroidery that adorns skirts (polleras), hats, vests, and other items of daily wear and use.
The most distant source of Amazon River is accessible from the Colca valley via Tuti, a one-day trip to a spring at 16,800 feet (5,120 m), where snowmelt from the Mismi bursts from a rock face. Other attractions include the Infiernillo Geyser, on the flanks of the volcano Wallqa Wallqa, which is accessible on foot, horseback, or mountain bicycle, and a number of casas vivenciales where tourists can stay with a local family in their home and share in their daily activities. Autocolca, an autonomous authority created by law in the 1980s, is responsible for tourism promotion and management in the Colca Valley.