Why are homestay tours in Colca Canyon so special?
You’ve probably heard about Peru’s famous Colca Canyon.
After all, it is the second deepest canyon in the world.
But, what you might not know is that the Colca Canyon is more than just a great place to experience incredible natural wonders.
Yes, it’s got giant condors, majestic volcanoes, hot springs and trekking adventures.
However, if you take the time to look a little deeper, you will find a region that is also rich in history and tradition.
The Collagua people of the Colca Valley have a culture that predates the Incas.
It is believed they arrived in the area about 1000 years ago.
Homestay tours in Colca Canyon allow visitors to gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating culture through local immersion.
Enjoy homestays with Collagua families, eat traditional foods and get a glimpse of everyday living in the Colca Valley’s rural communities.
You will learn about local customs and activities like wool spinning, trout fishing and alpaca shearing.
Experience traditional music and dancing, dress up in conventional clothing and even take a walk with a herd of llamas.
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Homestay tours in Colca Canyon showcase the best of the region’s natural wonders, including hiking, hot springs and condors, but also offer a deeper insight into the lives of its people.
Here’s just a few of the reasons why a 3-day Cultural Immersion Experience is the best way to visit Peru’s Colca Valley.
See vicuñas and volcanoes as you approach the Colca Valley
Your journey begins in Arequipa and yet before you even touch down in the remarkable Colca Valley, you get the opportunity to see some local Andean wildlife.
Witness herds of vicuñas in their natural habitat in the Pampa Cañahua National Park.
Vicuñas are a relative of the llama known for producing extremely fine wool.
The Incas valued vicuñas for their wool so much so that it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear garments made from vicuña.
You will get to enjoy breathtaking volcano vistas from Patapampa Pass, which is located at almost 5000 metres in altitude.
Marvel at the spectacular Ampato, Sabancaya and Hualca-Hualca peaks, along with hundreds of apachetas (stone towers) created as offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Nature.
After arriving in the tranquil town of Yanque, you’ll be swept up in the warm hospitality that our homestay tours in Colca Canyon are known for.
At your local homestay family , you’ll discover a cosy bed and breakfast with friendly staff and a lovely garden setting.
And, let’s not forget that an integral part of these homestay tours in Colca Canyon is the delicious local cuisine you get to devour.
Feast on traditional, homemade local food, including trout, chicken or alpaca steak.
Señora Hilde is famous for her delicious soups, full of tasty local vegetables, a secret blend of spices and creamy local cheese.
Each dish is made with love and it really reflects the warm and welcoming nature of the Collagua people.
You can take breakfast in the picturesque garden, where there is nothing to disturb you but the gentle rustling of the trees, the soft chirping of birds and buzzing of bees.
Fuel up on fresh fruits, juice, salad and crepes, not to mention warm bread served right from the oven in its clay baking dish.
Dinner is served by the cosy fireplace and you can watch your alpaca steak being cooked right in front of your eyes.
It doesn’t get fresher than this!
Insider tip: Be sure to try quinoa crepe – it’s delicious!
Explore undiscovered ruins and pre-Inca tombs
When you take part in our cultural homestay tours in Colca Canyon, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on trekking, natural wonders or ruins.
A short guided hike through the lovely local landscape will help you get to know the town of Yanque.
Enjoy views of the impressive agricultural terraces that define the Colca Valley as you traverse this scenic trail.
Cross the Colca River and discover ancient pre-Inca tombs of the Collaguas etched into the side of the cliff.
Explore the ruins of Uyo Uyo, which remain largely undiscovered by tourists.
Travel back in time as you wander among these ancient stone houses, the main square where the villagers once gathered and the historic church.
Learn local skills like wool spinning and candle-making
Skills such as candle-making, textile making, wool spinning and agriculture are predominant among the Collagua people.
During our educational homestay tours in Colca Canyon, you can watch demonstrations by local craftspeople.
Be awed by the art of wool spinning, which is actually harder than it looks!
Learn about different types of wool and about the traditional dress of the Collagua women.
These women wear satin blouses, embroidered vests and hats, and long velvet skirts with embroidered and lace trims.
One vest can take seven or eight days to make and although the embroidery is done by machine, the tailors don’t use a pattern.
They create incredibly elaborate designs using only their imaginations.
The women at Casa Bella Flor don’t wear these outfits every day, only on special occasions, because they are heavy and expensive.
Each skirt costs between $300-700 USD and some of the older women in the community will wear up to eight at once!
When you choose one of our homestay tours in Colca Canyon, you get to experience the ultimate in relaxation: your own private hot springs experience.
Bask in a 40-degree natural thermal pool exclusive to our guests while you sip a glass of red wine and watch the sunset from across the valley.
Soon, you will be bathing under the stars, breathing in the cool night air and allowing the soothing warm water to melt your cares away.
These pools, fed by natural springs, are rich in minerals that cleanse and relax the body.
Explore Yanque’s market and make some furry friends
The town of Yanque is known for its morning market, in which locals gather in the main square to dance and sell homemade handicrafts and textiles.
Performing the indigenous Wititi dance, you will marvel at the dancers’ colourful costumes and their twirling velvet skirts.
After enjoying this dance showcase, take your time to stroll around the vibrant market.
Peruse the colourful wares and be greeted by the smiling faces of the locals.
Shop for warm knitted clothing, soft scarves or embroidered hats, while the smoking Sabancaya volcano provides a dramatic backdrop to this serene setting.
Also at the market, you can greet local wildlife and even have your photo taken with your new furry or feathered friends.
A word of warning though; these guys are just so cute, it might be hard to drag yourself away.
Witness the famous Andean condor in flight
Peru’s Colca Canyon, and the entire Colca Valley region, is probably most famous for being home to the Andean condor.
With a wingspan of up to three metres, the Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world.
Visit the Cruz del Condor, or Condor Cross, to get up close with these majestic creatures.
While they are not the most beautiful birds, they certainly provide an impressive sight as they go gliding past at close range through the Colca Canyon.
Experience a traditional way of life in Sibayo
At your homestay in Sibayo, you will be greeted by a local family in colourful traditional attire.
Nieves and Eusebio might not speak English, but through their kind eyes and gestures, they manage to convey a warm welcome.
In Sibayo, you will experience a quiet and traditional way of Andean living.
Take the opportunity to stroll down to the Colca River and try your luck at trout fishing.
You can also visit with local alpaca and llama herders to learn about the conventional practice of wool shearing.
Dress in traditional clothes and walk with llamas in Sibayo
The town of Sibayo is famous for its ancient masonry; in fact, the word means ‘town of stones’ in Quechua.
Hence this is one of the most picturesque villages in the Colca Valley.
This pleasant and peaceful township provides the perfect backdrop to dress up in traditional Collagua clothing and take a fun walk with a herd of llamas.
Feel like a local as you walk in their shoes, exploring the local environment and getting close with these amiable Peruvian animals.
You can even visit the Mummy of Paraq’ra, also known as Juanito.
Located a short hike from town, Juanito’s well-preserved bones are positioned in the fetal position because the locals believe people must exit the world in the same way they entered it.
Party into the night with the locals
Once night falls, you will experience a different side of life in the Colca Valley.
A true cultural experience and another great aspect of our homestay tours in Colca Canyon is the party you enjoy with the locals of Sibayo.
Dance the night away to infectious live music provided by a colourful band, your skirt or poncho flaring as you spin and twirl around the fire pit.
The locals will show you how to dance Collagua-style and yet, despite your best efforts, you probably won’t look as professional as they do.
But it’s still incredibly fun.
As well as the lively local music filling the air, so too will the sounds of laughter.
Your cheeks will hurt from smiling so much.
Take a scenic trek from Canacota to Chivay
This picturesque trek is a great opportunity to appreciate more of the Colca Valley’s natural highlights without having to exert yourself too much.
On this predominantly flat 7-kilometre trail that traces the Colca River, you are not likely to see many other tourists.
Furthermore, this path is an original Inca trail that will take you past scenic cliffs and dramatic rock formations.
See a variety of plant and bird life and be awed by the bubbling patches of river, where the water is naturally hot.
After your hike, you can relax your weary legs with a visit to Chivay’s famous hot springs.
Homestay tours in Colca Canyon – A cultural experience
Homestay tours in Colca Canyon offer something for everyone – nature, adventure, culture, history and excitement.
But, most importantly, this is so much more than a tour, it is a life-changing experience full of those precious moments we share with others.
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