Frequent Asked Questions
- Do I need to take my Passport to Cabanaconde?
It’s worth taking a copy. There are no control points that require your original passport, but some hotels ask to see your passport with the paper immigration form you filled in when entering Peru.
- Are there ATMs in Cabanaconde?
At the moment there aren’t any ATMs in Cabanaconde where you can withdraw money (although the municipality reports there is a process to put one in place). There are several ATMs in Chivay where you can withdraw money with international debit or credit cards.
- Can I pay with my credit card?
There are few places that accept credit card payments.
- Can I exchange dollars or euros in Cabanaconde?
Yes but the exchange rate is lower than in Arequipa. You can change money in our hotel.
- Are there public telephones in Cabanaconde?
Yes, there are 4 public telephones, and you can make calls from the main plaza.
- Is there cell phone coverage in Cabanaconde?
- Yes there is coverage. In Peru there are two cell pone companies – Claro and Movistar – and both have coverage in Cabanaconde as well as some places within the Colca Canyon.
- Is there heating in the hotels and restaurants in Cabanaconde?
No hotel or restaurant in Cabanaconde has heating. Electricity for heating is very expensive in Cabanaconde; it costs twice as much as in Arequipa. If you feel cold while in La Casa de Santiago, we can give you an extra bed cover or a hot wáter bottle.
- How can I reserve a night in traditional houses, the Oasis or villages such as Tapay or Coshñirhua?
Before starting a trek into the Colca Canyon, we recommend that you spend a night in Cabanaconde. In La Casa de Santiago you can get free information about trekking and you can make reservations for the Oasis as well as in villages such as Tapay, Coshñirhua, and San Juan de Chuccho.
- If I stay the night in La Casa de Santiago who will show me the way to the canyon?
The staff in La Casa de Santiago will give you free maps and will show you the way to the beginning of the route into the canyon.
- If I stay the night in La Casa de Santiago and I make a return trip to the Oasis in one day, can I use the swimming pool without charge?
Yes, of course. You can ask for a free ticket in La Casa de Santiago to use the pool in the Oasis.
- Which swimming pool?
In the Oasis there are a number of swimming pools. We have an arrangement with the owners of the rectangular swimming pool with two waterfalls. We consider this to be best place since it has over 40,000 square metres of green space. This is the only pool that is rectangular and has two waterfalls.
- If I trek down into the canyon and I feel tired, can I rent a mule to come back up?
Yes, you can rent a mule to come back up from the Oasis to Cabanaconde. This costs 60 soles. You can organize this directly in the Oasis, and it is recommended to do so the day before.
- When trekking in the canyon, which is the best route to come back up to Cabanaconde?
We recommend returning via the Oasis. Remember that the way back to Cabanaconde is all uphill. Between the Oasis and Cabanaconde the climb is not very long and the pathway is in good condition. The climb to the top takes an average of 3 hours. If you head back up from other parts of the canyon there are more difficult climbs that can take 5-6 hours.
- If there is an emergency, are there telephones in the canyon?
Yes, there are public telephones in the villages of Tapay and Coshñirhua. In the Oasis you can call by cell phone from the accommodation site with the rectangular swimming pool with two waterfalls (there is a charge).
- Are there hospitals in Cabanaconde and in the canyon?
In Cabanaconde there is a basic health clinic which has a doctor on staff and can provide basic emergency services.
Within the canyon there are no medical services. It is highly recommended to bring a first aid kit with essential items for emergencies and personal medicines. No guide can give you any medicines as this is prohibited by law.
In case of serious accidents or emergencies there is no rescue helicopter service.
- Travel insurance
It’s important to have travel insurance that covers accidents and evacuations. The Peruvian government has limited resources and there is no budget for rescues in remote zones.
There is a very good Alpine Police service in Arequipa and the Colca Valley but they have very limited economic resources.
- Do I have to pay an entrance fee (tourist ticket) for the Colca Canyon?
Yes. The current price (2012) is 70 soles. You can buy the tourist ticket in Chivay, the Cruz del Condor, in Cabanaconde or within the canyon. There are numerous officials who can sell these tickets – don’t worry, they will approach you and you can buy the ticket at any point. Keep your ticket while you are in the Colca and until you return to Arequipa.
The fee you pay is used to improve and maintain the roads in the Colca Valley, for rehabilitation of tourism sites, for infrastructure and for other public works.
However, the tourist ticket does not give you the right to camp wherever you like such as in the canyon. Property is privately owned and you need to pay for the various services you use.
- Is there a discount for international students?
No, there is no discount.
- Is it safe to trek in the canyon without a guide? And what are the safest routes?
Yes it is safe. But if you are thinking of going without a guide and especially by yourself it is important to follow the most well-known routes where you will see more people.
The safe route: this means that the pathways are clearly visible and there are plenty of other tourists and local people who can give you directions. The safest route is from Cabanaconde directly to the Oasis.
If you don’t have much experience trekking, we recommend you hire a local guide through our hotel (at least one day before you want to begin your trek).
We recommend you stay the night in Cabanaconde and start trekking the next morning. You can leave your belongings in our hotel and pick them up when you come back, so you can trek with only a light load.
Safe route: (1-2 days trekking)
Cabanaconde-Oasis: 2 ½ - 3 hours downhill
Oasis-Cabanaconde 3 – 3 ½ hours uphill
Safe route but recommended to go with a guide (2 days trekking)
Day 1: Cabanaconde - San Juan de Chuccho – Oasis: 4 hours downhill to San Juan de Chuccho (lunch) and 2 more hours to the Oasis (mix of uphill, downhill and flat). Dinner and the night in the Oasis.
Day 2: Oasis – Cabanaconde: 3 hours trekking uphill.
Safe route but recommended to go with a guide ( 3 days trekking)
Day 1: Cabanaconde - San Juan de Chuccho – Tapay: 4 hours downhill and 2 hours uphill. Dinner and the night in Tapay.
Day 2: Tapay – Coshnirhua – Malata - Oasis 3-4 hours downhill. Dinner and the night in the Oasis.
Day 3: Oasis - Cabanaconde: 3 hours trekking uphill.
The time taken for these treks can vary depending on fitness and experience. Some people will take either more or less time between destinations.
- What time does the sun set?
It’s important to note that the sun sets at around 5:15 pm and it gets dark by 5:30 pm. There is not much variation from summer to winter. You should always carry a flashlight when trekking (headlamps are best).
- Are there other trekking routes’
Yes but it is recommended to do them with a guide.
- What if I’m a woman by myself?
There’s no problem: people in the Colca are very respectful. However, basic precautions are always important.
- The temperature
In Cabanaconde: the minimum temperature usually drops to around 5 degrees and can drop as low as -5 during the months of May to July. The daytime temperature rises to between 18 and 23 degrees all year around (although it can feel much hotter in the sun).
In the Colca Canyon: the night time temperature drops to between 8 and 12 degrees, and the daytime maximum rises to between 25 and 30 degrees all year round.
- When is the rainy season?
Usually between December and March.
- What are the seasons?
In Peru’s southern Andes where the Colca Valley and Colca Canyon are located, there are two distinct seasons: the dry season from April to November and the rainy season from December to March.
- Do I need my sleeping bag?
When trekking in the canyon, it’s only worth taking your sleeping bag if it’s very small and light and you particularly feel the cold. If you sleep in the Oasis or the villages of the canyon you will have a bed with two thick or bed covers – usually enough to stay warm.