Peruvian Connection


January 2007
Colca Canyon -- unspoiled marvel of the Andes
The Rio Colca as it cuts through the canyon. A Collagua girl in traditional dress. A suri alpaca surrounded by huacaya alpacas.

Southern Peru's Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Surrounded by volcanoes, many of them active, the canyon dips to more than 16,000 feet below the average peak. The dramatic rock formations, fertile valleys, and archaeological treasures throughout the canyon are punctuated by the largest of the majestic volcanoes, the active Sabancaya and the snow-capped dormant volcano, Ampato.

On both sides of the canyon lie unspoiled Andean villages inhabited by the Cabana and Collagua peoples. The steep hillsides are covered in extensive pre-Columbian terraces and canals, and are cultivated in a variety of crops. The US winter months mark the spring rainy season in the Colca, covering the area in every shade of green, with sprinklings of wildflowers.

In the dry, cold season from May to December, birdwatchers travel to the Colca to see the Andean Condor. The canyon is the natural habitat of the great Andean condor, a species that has seen world-wide preservation efforts and for which the Colca Canyon has been designated as a national sanctuary. With a wingspan of up to 10 feet, the condor was one of the most important mythological figures of ancient Andean civilizations. 'Cruz del Condor', a spectacular lookout point over the Colca Canyon, is the best location to view the Andean Condors as they soar gracefully on the rising thermals.

The camelid family, including the wild vicuña and guanaco and the domestic llama and alpaca, is ideally suited to the Colca environment. Their insulating fleece and nimble feet enable them to thrive in the often harsh climate, and the alpaca is essential to the economy of the Colca region. Between November and April, alpacas and vicuñas are carefully shorn, the vicuñas in an ancient Inca traditional practice known as a Chaccu. February is also the month that many of the alpacas and vicuñas give birth to their crias, taking advantage of the plentiful food and moderate weather.


Peruvian Connection -- Celebrating 30 Years
The textiles of the Colca Canyon provided
inspiration for Peruvian Connection's
Colca Canyon Skirt at right.

View more Andean textile-inspired items >

Colca Canyon Skirt
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