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Published on Feb 11, 2015
SLAWEK, PhotoGallery: http://gotoslawek.org/artbankgallery.... Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru, located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Arequipa. It is Peru's third most-visited tourist destination with about 120,000 visitors annually. With a depth of 13,650 ft (4,160 m), it is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots, and towns founded in Spanish colonial times, still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures. The local people maintain their ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces. The Quechua-speaking Cabanas, probably descended from the Wari culture, and the Aymara-speaking Collaguas, who moved to the area from the Lake Titicaca region, inhabited the valley in the pre-Inca era. The Inca probably arrived in the Colca Valley around 1320 AD, and established their dominion through marriage, rather than through warfare. The Spaniards, under Gonzalo Pizarro, arrived in 1540 and in the 1570s the Spanish viceroy Francisco de Toledo ordered the inhabitants to leave their scattered settlements and to move to a series of centrally located pueblos, which remain the principal towns of the valley. Franciscan missionaries built the first chapel in the valley in 1565, and the first church in 1569.
No passable roads existed between Arequipa and Chivay until the 1940s, when a road was completed to serve the silver and copper mines of the region. More roads were built in the 1970s and 1980s by the Majes Hydroelectric Project, a program to divert water from the Colca River to irrigate crops in the Majes region. Access today is usually via Arequipa.
In May 1981, the Polish Canoandes rafting expedition led by Jerzy Majcherczyk, made the first descent of the river below Cabanaconde, and proclaimed the possibility of its being the world's deepest canyon. It was so recognized by the Guinness Book of Records in 1986, and a National Geographic article in January 1993 repeated the claim. The joint Polish/Peruvian "Cañon del Colca 2005" expedition verified the altitudes of the river and the surrounding heights via GPS.
Tourism has increased since the 1980s and 1990s from a few thousand visitors annually to nearly 150,000 visitors in 2010. The expedition was organized by CLASSIC TRAVELERS, Margaret & Yurek Majcherczyk, US: 1 800 774 6996 EU: 004822 389 5374