Flying overhead, you can't miss the green, fertile trough as it cuts through the barren terrain, but it's all an illusion; only scrub brush and cactus cling to the canyon's sheer basalt sides and miles of ancient terraces. The canyon is named for the stone warehouses (colcas) used to store grain by an ancient culture that lived along the walls of the gorge.
Carved into the foothills of the snow-covered Andes and sliced by the silvery Río Colca, Colca Canyon
is 3,182 meters (10,440 feet) deep. The more adventurous can embark on a hike into the canyon—typically a two-, three-, or five-day excursion. Bird lovers (and anyone with an eye for amazement) can visit the Cruz del Condor. Culture seekers can spend a night with a native family. Light hikers and archaeology aficionados can observe points along the rim, or those seeking pure relaxation can hit one of the all-inclusive lodges with horseback riding and thermal baths.