Characterized by an unearthly, ostensibly endless lava field dominated by the majestic snow-capped peaks of Coropuna and EscrÃbano, the Valley of the Volcanoes (Santuario Nacional Valle de los Volcanes) is a spectacular museum of natural wonder. This small valley, nestled between the geological giants of Colca and Cotahuasi, is home to more than 80 volcanic cones, some only 24 meters (79 ft) high. The 65-kilometer (40-mi) stretch of utterly amazing scenery also has a lake and the RÃo Andagua, which runs underground through most of the valley.
Few people make it to this region, and those interested in trekking it must be sure to bring plenty of water. From Arequipa, the trip is a rough 12 hours. Most tours take the west access, where you can only see a few of the volcanoes. The village of Andagua sits at the head of the valley, and makes a good point from which to start any journey into the valley. A few days trek from Andagua is Lago Mamacocha near the village of Ayo.
The best views of the valley, though, are from the northwest. To gain this vista, adventure seekers can make the five-day trek through Chacas to Cabanaconde in Colca Canyon. This arduous journey traces the original route that U.S. pilots Robert Shippee and George Johnson traversed in 1929 during an aerial geographic expedition.
323 kilometers / 197 miles north of Arequipa
Hiking, Trekking, Climbing Types:
Hike, Camping, adventure, Lookout point, Nature trail
Price Description: No entry fee is charged into the reserve.
Relative price: Free
Travel Skills: advanced/difficult.
Peruvian nuevo sol