a VirtualTourist member
We plan a trip from Arequipa to Colca Canyon in mid September.
We look for the fastest way to get there.
Are there any flights / fast trains to get close to the canyon?
Do you guys know any nice place we can stay overnight - the closest to the canyon possible?
Because we are seniors and cannot walk long distances, do you have ideas what kind of trip/attraction in the canyon would be the best for us?
Thank you for any helpful comment!
It's a few years since we visited, but at the time, the only real option was the collectivo (minibus taxi) from Arequipa to Cabanaconde.
On the latter section of this road, you travel close to the canyon edge, and can get off at the main viewing point (marked by a large cross) from where you have the best chance of seeing the condors wheeling overhead. It is a wonderful region, but mainly for the active outdoors opportunities it offers.
I cannot gauge how mobile you are from your posting, but as you specifically flag it (and for fear of being cautious) I am really not sure that I would recommend Canyon de Colca for those with limited mobility. It may have changed a bit since we visited - but not too much, I suspect, and the tourist options in this part of the world all involve a far bit of walking. It's also a pretty narrow canyon (and very deep), so getting to vantage points where you can really appreciate it's impressive proportions may involve a bit of scrambling.
By way of comparison, Canyon de Colca isn't like the Grand Canyon for instance, which is set up for large scale tourism, and I fear that you might be disappointed by your limited options after having made all the effort to get there. Also the long ride on the collectivo (which is usually cramped, especially if you're taller - probably won't assist your mobility once you get there. My recommendation would be to rather spend some time in Arequipa, if you're keen on visiting the lovely south of the country, which would be much easier for you to get around (you can fly in here from either Juliaca close to Puno on Lake Titicaca or Lima).
Sorry if this sounds negative, but it's just my perspective: maybe someone who's been there more recently may be able to tell you different.
I would not be so negative as there are good alternatives to the bus, and although not anything like the Grand Canyon, it is a sight well worth seeing in my opinion. There are plenty of companies that provide tours to the canyon from Arequipa, although you will have to pay a little more than the bus option. The best idea would be to take one that gives you an overnight stay there as it's quite a long drive. Also, if you stay over you can make an early start the next morning to drive to the point where you can see the condors - well, it's not guaranteed to see them, of course, but you have a very good chance to do so.
I suggest that you check out the various tours and choose one where there's not much too walking involved. Ours took us to a lovely hotel on the floor of the canyon, the Parador del Colca, which was very accessible, and the next day after seeing the condors we did a shortish walk along the canyon's edge nearby, and another from a village out to see some of the farmed area (the terraces are very photogenic) - both walks were optional and you wouldn't lose much of the experience if you decided not to do them. Whereas some other tours involve hiking down into the canyon so you'll probably want to give those a miss.
If you want to read more, I have a small VT page about our trip: [original VT link] But it was quite a while back and I can't remember the name of the tour company, unfortunately. My friend Anna (willy_wonka) was there more recently and also did a tour - her page is very informative: [original VT link]