The rebirth of the kingdom of the condor in the Colca Canyon

andean condor flying in colca canyon

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The Andean condor acquires its status as King of the Andes and emperor of the skies very close to Arequipa. This city is known for two things: for being the birthplace of the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, and for being the closest city to the Colca Canyon,

Today we talk to you about the Colca Andean Condor, the animal that inhabits the Colca Canyon in Arequipa and that is the great attraction for tourists.

The Legend of the Condor

One of the many Inca legends tells that the condor was an immortal animal. The myth of its rebirth tells how the one known as King of the Andes, upon seeing himself grow old, folds his wings and throws himself in a majestic fall from the cliffs to die in an act that symbolizes the cycle of life itself.

andean condor flying along the colca canyon

This suicidal myth about this sacred bird of the Andes has its part of reality and explanation in that it is a monogamous and solitary bird.

Since the dawn of time, it has been hunted indiscriminately for its mystical therapeutic powers and for the nutritional value of its meat.

Arguments that explain why the condor is in danger of extinction. This fact of ending its life has turned it into a mythological animal for civilizations such as the Incas, the Collaguas and the Cabanas.

Even in the travel to Machu Picchu, you can observe the Temple of the Condor, a temple dedicated to this bird so appreciated by the Incas.

condor temple in cave in machu picchu

Ceremony from the Cruz del Condor viewpoint

The Colca Canyon reaches at some points to 4,160 meters deep. Thus, it is the second deepest canyon in the world, just behind Kali Gandaki Canyon in Nepal and well ahead of the 2,100 meters you can reach in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado Tour.

views of the colca canyon

It is in the holes of its walls where the nests of this colony of condors, of about a hundred, are found. Punctually, from 8 o’clock in the morning, they begin to fly over the canyon in search of carrion. A ceremony that daily congregates a multitude of curious onlookers who enjoy the spectacle from the Cross of the Condor viewpoint.

Contemplating the elegant flight of the condors is, precisely, one of the main activities to do in your Peru itinerary. A rite that has as its main attraction the imposing proximity of the condors.

condor flying in the colca canyon

With this closeness they manage to defy the gazes of the most curious and make it clear that we are in their kingdom, the kingdom of the condor.

The canyon stream hunter

The condors take advantage of the presence of the hot air currents that are created in the canyon to leave their nests and thus rise in perfect glide above its reddish walls.

It is then when they start looking for targets in the form of carrion to feed on. Its three-meter wingspan and 12 kilograms of weight make this scavenger bird an impressive threat.

andean colca condor flying with open wings

To this is added a unique technique of using the valley’s air currents to their advantage by gliding from high above. This allows them to exploit their extraordinary vision, which they use to lock on to their target and drop at breakneck speeds.

To all this must be added their sharp and armored beaks, capable of breaking the hardest bones and tissues in the animal kingdom.

As if that were not enough, the condor has claws that, although their limited development does not allow them to grab their prey with them, they do help them to butcher carrion.

Would you like to see the Andean condor of the Colca? What do you think of the legends told about this bird?


Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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