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Colca Canyon, Colca Canyon

Peru, Central + South America: Tourists watch a condor at the Colca Canyon, Peru.
Colca Canyon
Peru's insider take:

At more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon is inherently dramatic and also home to some of the world's largest flying birds, Andean condors. Easily the greatest local spectacle is their morning hunting flight—best seen from the Cruz del Condor lookout, almost 4,000 feet up from the canyon floor—and all attendant ascents, descents, and flybys. At times, you'll think these creatures, whose wingspans can reach 10.5 feet, might actually touch down on your head. (Never happens.) When the show is over, you'll want to explore other parts of the Colca region, which includes some of Peru's most photogenic architectural terraces. Local hotels and tour operators, such as Las Casitas del Colca, can arrange hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding excursions. Note: To reach this region, you'll most likely fly to Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage designee well worth seeing. Highlights include an arrestingly beautiful central plaza (especially at night, when the all-white buildings are illuminated); the Santa Catalina convent, a centuries-old, convincingly Andalusian city-within-a-city; and the mummy "Juanita," a sacrificed Incan girl whose ice-preserved remains were discovered by an anthropologist in 1995 atop Arequipa's neighboring Mount Ampato.—Updated by Abbie Kozolchyk

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