All about the Condor viewpoint
What is it?
This viewpoint, the most famous in the Colca canyon, offers incredible views of the place. But what is most striking is the flight of several condors in the area. This natural spectacle has made Colca the second most visited tourist attraction in Peru, only after Machu Picchu.
As well as 'Cruz del Condor', the splendor of the Colca canyon can be appreciated from different viewpoints such as: the Andes viewpoint, the Antahuilque viewpoint, the Volcanoes viewpoint and more. However, of all these, the most visited is 'Cruz del Condor'. It should be noted that the Colca canyon is one of the deepest in the world at 4,160 meters.
The Cruz del Cóndor viewpoint is located in the upper part of the Colca canyon, approximately 3,800 meters above sea level. The closest town to stay near there is Cabanaconde, located 12 kilometers on average. The viewpoint is 200 kilometers by road from the city of Arequipa. At the top, the snow-capped Mismi stands out (the top located at 5,822 meters above sea level).
How to get there?
The best way to get to the viewpoint is by car from the city of Arequipa to the town of Cabanaconde, in the province of Caylloma. The cost of this journey is 18 soles (6 dollars, approximately). It takes almost 6 hours to get there. Then you can go (preferably very early) by car or on foot to the 'Cruz del Condor' viewpoint.
The town of Cabanaconde
Cabanaconde is the closest tourist town to the 'Cruz del Condor' viewpoint. Due to the fact that many tourists come there to appreciate the spectacle of the 'flight of the condor', the town adapted and offers acceptable lodging services. Some visitors also decide to stay in the Chivay district, the capital of the Caylloma province.
Cabanaconde also has other viewpoints of the Colca canyon such as: the Tapay viewpoint, the Achachiwa viewpoint and the San Miguel viewpoint. From this town you can take hiking routes to various sectors of the canyon such as San Juan de Chuccho or the oasis of Sangalle. It is also worth highlighting its beautiful temple in honor of San Pedro Alcántara as well as the Mucurca lagoon, in the highest part of the town.
The viewpoint 'Cruz del condor'
The 'Cruz del Condor' viewpoint is the most visited of the many viewpoints deployed along the Colca canyon. The reason is the spectacle of the 'flight of the condor': several Andean condors flying over the place very close to the visitors. Of course, it takes some luck for the condors to fly over at the right time and at the best distance. The viewpoint is more crowded in the mornings when, although it does not always happen, the condors prefer to fly the site. To appreciate this and the other viewpoints (as well as hiking trails throughout the Colca Valley) it is necessary to buy the 'Colca Tourist Ticket' which costs 70 soles for foreigners (22 dollars on average) and 40 soles for Latin Americans (12 dollars on average). Peruvians pay only 20 soles (6 dollars, approximately).
The Andean condor
The Andean condor (vultur gryphus) is the second largest bird in the world (with outstretched wings it can reach 3.5 meters and up to 1.3 meters in height). It inhabits the western region of South America, especially the Andes Mountains, although it can also fly over the Pacific coast. Although it can weigh 15 kilos, it is an excellent flyer because it can travel immense distances (even, driven by the air current, it can travel 170 kilometers without flapping its wings). It feeds on carrion that it can see from very long distances. Due to the accelerated human population in its habitat and the low reproductive rate (one chick every 2 years) this species is threatened. For this reason Andean countries such as Peru, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and even Argentina promote protection and reproduction programs to maintain the species.
The Incas believed that condors were sacred birds that communicated the earthly world (kay pacha) with the world of the gods (hanan pacha). In many of their constructions they have sought to worship this powerful bird (for example, in the 'Temple of the Condor' in Machu Picchu). Currently, the Andean condor appears as a national symbol on the shields of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. In certain regions of South America there are viewpoints of condors that attract many tourists. Perhaps one of the most famous and visited is the 'Cruz del Condor' viewpoint in Arequipa, Peru.
How to go? With tour or on my own?
There are two ways to visit the 'Mirador del Condor': with an all-inclusive tour (of 1 or more days) or on your own (taking public transport and buying the ticket personally).
The 1-day tours start at dawn (between 2 am and 3 am) in the city of Arequipa. Very early we go directly to the viewpoint 'Cruz del Condor'. Then you will visit the nearby towns such as Yanque, Maca and Pinchollo. Chivay hot springs are also visited. Finally, you return to Arequipa. The cost of the 1-day service is approximately $ 50.
The 2-day tours start in the city of Arequipa. You travel early (7 am, approximately) to the town of Chivay. On the way you can see the volcanoes and natural attractions of the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve. In Chivay you have lunch, dinner and spend the night in a tourist accommodation. You can also enjoy the thermal baths of La Calera. The next day is destined to appreciate the 'flight of the condor' as well as the towns near the area. Finally he has lunch and returns to Arequipa. The cost of the 2-day service is approximately $ 110.
If you decide to go on your own, you must take public transport at the stop of the 'Arequipa land terminal'. The trip to Cabanaconde will take approximately 6 hours (travel cost of $ 6). In this town you must purchase the 'Colca Tourist Ticket' (22 dollars, approximately). Finally, you just have to walk or take a taxi to the 'Cruz del Cóndor' viewpoint. The return trip follows the same route as the outbound trip.
Other nearby tourist attractions
La Calera Thermal Baths- Most tours include a visit to this place, located near the town of Chivay. It has five pools filled with hot water from the Cotallumi volcano. If you go on your own, the cost of entry is only 10 soles (about 3 dollars on average). These waters, with temperatures of 40ºC. approximately, they are beneficial for muscle and bone pain.
Sangalle- Just 4 kilometers from Cabanaconde is the famous oasis of Sangalle, a place full of vegetation. It is located on one of the slopes of the Colca canyon. To get there you have to do a very entertaining little hiking route. On the site, you can also appreciate the Chuirca waterfalls, the Troja rumi rock and the Layja-Machai cave. The entrance is included in the 'Colca Tourist Ticket'.
Chivay- The town of Chivay is the largest of the towns belonging to the province of Caylloma. It has a past full of history. Proof of this are its Inca streets, its colonial church and the deep customs of its inhabitants. Nearby are the highest viewpoints of the Colca canyon. It also has other tourist attractions such as the 'Chivay Planetarium', the 'Inca Bridge', the 'La Calera' thermal baths and more. Chivay has a good range of hotels and restaurants.
The 'viewpoint of the Condor' has a cold temperate climate with temperatures that vary from 18ºC. in the day and 0º at night. Take with you a polo shirt, a sweater and, on top, a jacket. This way you can better withstand the cold.
The viewpoint is located about 3,800 meters above sea level. At that altitude you may suffer symptoms of so-called 'altitude sickness' such as headache, nausea or fatigue. These symptoms usually disappear gradually. However, to feel better, you can drink coca tea (made from the coca leaf) and avoid high-fat meals.