The 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca (7 Qorihuillca Canyons) are an extraorindary natural attraction in Ayacucho, Peru. If anything, Ayacucho is known as the city to visit in order to see the majestic Millpu Pools. But, the huge carved walls at the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca are an outstanding place in their own right. Indeed, we’d argue that the canyon alone, warrants a trip to Ayacucho. By simply jumping on a flight or an overnight bus from Lima to Ayacucho and then doing a half day tour, it’s very easy to visit this spectacular canyon.
In this travel guide, we’ll talk about how to visit the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons. Initially, we’ll tell you more about the canyon and exactly where it’s located. Then, we’ll look at how to get there, independently and with a tour company. Afterwards, we’ll reveal essential things to know before you visit and explain the best ways to get from Lima to Ayacucho. Last but not least, we’ll answer some FAQs and discuss what to wear and pack during a visit.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For details about another epic day tour in Ayacucho, read our guide on the Millpu Pools.
What Are the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca?
The 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca are a natural corridor formed by a gap in the middle of two large canyon walls. Formed by erosion over time, a labyrinth of natural paths with minimal daylight has been created by a split in the huge walls. Indeed, the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons and their mysterious rock formations are a stunning natural phenomenon. When Beck and I first heard about this destination, it immediately reminded us of the Antelope Canyon in the United States.
The main difference is, that not many tourists know about the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca. Personally, when we visited in mid-2022, we were the only tourists there. We did see two other groups of locals. But, in reality, this place was basically deserted. Considering its beauty, this place deserves more visitors.
Just to clarify, the crack in the canyon walls, is referred to as the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons. There aren’t actually seven canyons to explore or anything like that. Typically, during a visit, you’ll rappel down a side of the canyon wall. Then, you’ll hike through the gap in the canyon walls. That’s it really. A quick half day tour with a couple of fun activities. So, where exactly is this place located?
Where Are the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca?
The 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca are located very close to the city of Ayacucho in Peru. Only around 4km northwest of the town centre, you’ll find this incredible place. From the town of Ayacucho, it takes around 45 minutes to drive to the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons.
How to Get to the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca
By far, the easiest and simplest way to get to the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca is by doing a half day tour. That’s what Beck and I did. We really enjoyed the convenience of doing this tour, which took care of roundtrip transportation from Ayacucho. We’ll discuss this tour in more detail below.
Of course, if you’re the intrepid type and want to visit independently, it’s possible. If you don’t have your own car, you’ll just need to hire a taxi driver for the day. After negotiating a price in town (approx. $15–20USD), a driver will take you to the canyon. They’ll then wait for you as you trek through the canyon walls. Then, they’ll simply drive you back to Ayacucho when you’re ready. Seems easy enough.
But, you’ll find that not many taxi drivers are used to co-ordinating this type of trip with tourists. Indeed, not many people visit this canyon. And, for the few people who do, they’ll more than likely do a tour. So, a taxi driver might not know exactly where you’ll need to go. The second issue is that a tour company will provide rappelling gear as part of the trip. Obviously, unless you have your own gear, you won’t be able to rappel. Indeed, rappelling is one of the main attractions for visiting the canyon. For the sake of being able to rappel, you should visit with a tour company.
7 Cañones de Qorihuillca Tours
There are plenty of 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca tours on offer in Ayacucho in Peru. The tours are only half day affairs, taking around 4 hours. Companies offer a morning (9am) or afternoon (12pm or 1pm) session. These tours include roundtrip transportation, rappelling gear hire and a guide. You’ll find these tours are around S/90 ($22USD) per person. Compared with an approx. $25USD full day Millpu Pools tour, the cost of this half day tour seemed quite expensive. But, given the rappelling equipment and professional guide hire, the costs are justified.
Besides, if you’re staying in Ayacucho, in Peru, for a couple of days, you’ll likely do both a Millpu Pools and 7 Qorihuillca Canyons tour. If you book both tours with the same company, it’s fairly easy to negotiate a discount. That’s exactly what we did! We booked both tours with Viajes Mancilla, AKA A & R Tours. The staff at this tour company were very friendly, flexible and professional. Feel free to contact them on Whatsapp (+51 993 458 410) or visit their office in town.
By doing the standard tour, you’ll have the pleasure of both rappelling and trekking in the canyon. Although, if you’re really not keen on rappelling, you can simply just trek during the tour. There’s a hiking trail leading down to the canyon floor, where rappellers will land.
FYI – there is an entrance fee of S/5 ($1.30USD) per person.
7 Cañones de Qorihuillca Rappelling
After a short drive from Ayacucho, you’ll arrive on a dirt road beside the canyon. Keep in mind, that most guides only speak Spanish. So, if you haven’t rappelled before, don’t speak Spanish and are the nervous type, be prepared to be nervous! Admittedly, Beck and I had never rappelled before. Given our limited Spanish, we were a bit worried that we wouldn’t understand the safety instructions. Thankfully, rappelling is actually fairly straightforward. In addition, our guide on the day was very clever at explaining in broken English and used body language well.
Naturally, we were both a bit apprehensive to start. But, once we got going, we quickly got the hang of it, having a great time along the way. Just like us, you may feel an extreme sense of elation and excitement as you slowly rappel down the canyon wall. Indeed, you will feel high doses of adrenaline surge through your body! Credit to Beck, who was brave enough to be the first one out of us to rappel! Also, we must credit this experience for feeling much more comfortable rappelling at Cañon de Autisha in the Lima region, a couple of weeks later.
After touching down, you’ll take off your rappelling gear. Then, you’ll begin to trek through the amazing canyon labrynth!
7 Cañones de Qorihuillca Trekking
Trekking through the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons is an exhilarating experience. Of course, rappelling is a real hoot. But, trekking allows you to explore the canyon in great detail. Overall, the narrow path leading through the canyon is around 1km in length. So, you’ll want to take your time in order to soak in the beauty of the naturally carved walls. Around each corner, you’ll find unique crevasses and cracks through the canyon. Most of the path is dimly lit and quite dark. Make sure to pack a head torch!
Given the trekking conditions, speed hiking wasn’t possible or advisable.
What’s speed hiking? It’s hiking at a fast pace. Obviously, speed hiking wasn’t appropriate here for many reasons. But, usually, we prefer to speed hike when out on the trails. Find out more about it here.
Things to Know Before Visiting the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca
There are a few helpful things to know before visiting the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons. In terms of safety, it’s recommended that you wear safety equipment when trekking inside the canyon walls. That’s partly why doing a tour is such a great idea. They’ll provide all of your safety gear. Admittedly, we saw locals trekking in the canyon without any safety equipment. This is possible as there isn’t any security there monitoring the situation. But, always, use safety gear if that’s what’s recommended.
In terms of comfort, some of the paths leading through the canyon are narrow and steep. Be careful when passing through tight passages. It would be difficult to move through some sections with a big backpack. In the same token, care is required when stepping over large boulders. Care through the canyon is certainly made easier with a light source. If you don’t have a head torch, an iPhone torch will suffice. But, it’s ideal to have both hands free when moving through the canyon.
The other things to consider, to guarantee an enjoyable visit, are the weather and altitude.
Weather in Ayacucho, Peru
Temperatures in Ayacucho, Peru, only slightly vary throughout the year. Average daytime temperatures differ between 23–26°C throughout the year. Nighttime temperatures average between 6–11°C. The lower day and night time temperatures are typically seen during the dry season (May to October), which coincides with Winter. Warmer temperatures coincide with the rainy season (November to April). To avoid rain, it’s best to visit Ayacucho in the dry season.
FYI – on a clear day, it’s very warm out in the sun, before and after the tour. But, trekking inside the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons gets very cold as there is minimal daylight that penetrates through to the gap in the canyon walls. Make sure to pack a jacket for trekking. Read What to Wear and Pack for more information.
Altitude in Ayacucho, Peru
Ayacucho, in Peru, is 2,761 metres above sea level. Indeed, if you’ve arrived on a bus or flight from Lima (at sea level), you’ll notice the difference straight away. You may find that you’ll be short of breath without exerting yourself too much. These are the immediate effects of high altitude. Given that Ayacucho is a high-altitude destination, measures must be taken to avoid altitude sickness. Also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), this illness is commonly experienced by those who reach high altitudes that they’re not used to. The main symptoms include headache, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, indigestion and loss of appetite.
There is a considerable height difference between Lima and Ayacucho. So, altitude sickness is a genuine concern if you haven’t acclimatised. Obviously, if you’ve arrived in Lima and gone straight to Ayacucho, whether by plane or bus, you’ll probably just need a day or two to acclimatise. Basically, just chill and take it easy for one or two days before exploring 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca. Luckily, Beck and I had already visited and hiked in high-altitude areas such as Cusco and Huaraz before doing this trip. So, altitude sickness wasn’t an issue for us.
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness
Thankfully, even if you feel unwell, there are methods for managing and reducing the symptoms of altitude sickness. Firstly, don’t rush around. Walk slowly and take it easy. If you feel short of breath, stop and have a break. Secondly, eat light meals and don’t eat them too quickly. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is also helpful. In addition, you may benefit from coca leaves, tea or sweets. This is what the locals always recommend. Finally, you could use altitude sickness tablets (such as Diamox). But, if you acclimatise properly, you shouldn’t need them.
How to Get to Ayacucho
Of course, to get to the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons, you’ll need to get to Ayacucho in Peru. Most tourists visit Ayacucho from Lima, simply because most tourists initially fly into Lima. So, let’s look at your options for getting to Ayacucho from Lima.
Getting From Lima to Ayacucho
Most tourists visit Ayacucho from Lima, by bus or plane. Interestingly, when Beck and I visited Peru in 2020, we had booked return flights (Lima – Ayacucho) because it was super cheap (approx. $60USD per person) and very quick (approx. 1 hour flight).
Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to cancel this trip. Upon returning to Peru in 2022, we thought we’d simply rebook flights, hoping for a similar price. But, when we looked at these same flights in mid-2022, the prices had more than doubled! At this time of searching, return flights from Lima to Ayacucho were around $150USD per person. Unfortunately, given the price hike, we decided to take the bus from Lima to Ayacucho, which was more affordable.
Lima to Ayacucho Bus
Compared with flights, getting a bus from Lima to Ayacucho is much cheaper. The catch is, that only night buses operate the route between Lima and Ayacucho. The bus ride between Lima and Ayacucho is around 10–11 hours each way. It’s a slow and tedious drive. But, at least, you’ll be asleep for most of it.
You’ll find Civa Exclusiva and Cruz del Sur operating the bus service between Lima and Ayacucho. Both offer similar prices and departure times. The Lima to Ayacucho bus is usually around S/100–115 ($25–29USD), departing between 7–10pm. Whilst, the Ayacucho to Lima bus is slightly cheaper, costing around S/90–105 ($22–26USD), departing similarly between 8–10pm.
From our experience, the main difference between these companies is the type of chair. Cruz del Sur only offers a semi-reclining chair. Whereas, Civa Exclusiva offers a fully-reclining chair. It was much easier to sleep on the fully-reclining chair. So, that’s why we recommend Civa Exclusiva. Using Busbud, we were able to book our Lima – Ayacucho bus tickets in advance, at a cheap rate.
Lima to Ayacucho Flights
The quickest and most comfortable way to get to Ayacucho, from Lima, is to fly. But, as mentioned, this is a more expensive option. Particularly, post-pandemic, the price of these flights has increased from around $60USD to $150USD per person. But, if you’re just after comfort, the short 1 hour flight is the way to go.
FYI – when booking flights, do a quick Skyscanner search to find the cheapest flights. Although, with the pandemic, we have changed tactics and decided it’s safest to book directly with the airlines, instead of through Skyscanner.
Other Things to Do in Ayacucho
You’ll find other great places to explore around Ayacucho in Peru. This includes natural attractions such as Catarata Pumapaqcha and Pachapupum Volcano. In addition, the Vilcashuaman archaeological site is a fantastic historical attraction to explore from Ayacucho. But, of course, the most famous thing to do in Ayacucho is to visit the Millpu Pools.
Visit the Millpu Pools
The Millpu Pools are a breathtaking natural attraction near Ayacucho in Peru. Admittedly, it wasn’t the 7 Qorihuillca Canyons that initially drew us to Ayacucho. We initially visited Ayacucho in order to explore the Millpu Pools. It was only by chance that we later found out about the canyon. Anyway, to learn more about visiting the Millpu Pools, read our guide.
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about visiting the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca.
What Adventure Sports Are Possible at the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca?
Trekking, climbing and rappelling are possible. Most tours to the canyon involve just trekking and rappelling. If you’re into climbing, there’s climbing aplenty in Ayacucho in Peru. Simply ask one of the tour companies in town for climbing tour options and guides.
How Difficult is Trekking at the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca?
Trekking through the canyon is fairly easy. After all, it’s mostly flat and only 1km in distance. But, it’s narrow, dark and steep in sections. So, you’ll want to have your wits about you.
What Are the Other Best Tours in Peru?
Obviously, there are hundreds of mindblowing tours in Peru. I don’t intend on listing all of them. But, in the spirit of writing about this lesser-known tour, it seems appropriate to recommend other lesser-known and off-the-beaten-track tours in Peru.
Before setting off to Ayacucho, think about a Cordillera de la Viuda or Cañon de Autisha tour from Lima. If you visit Cusco, we recommend a trekking tour to either Choquequirao or Huchuy Qosqo. If you find yourself in Arequipa, you should do a Sillar de Arequipa tour. Certainly, if you’re in the Amazon, we recommend doing tours, with Amazonia Expeditions at their Tahuayo Lodge and Amazon Research Center Lodge.
What to Wear and Pack
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These hiking boots are very comfortable and a great choice for hiking in the canyon
This camera is super lightweight and compact, so it's perfect for day trips. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII took great photos in the canyon. Just make sure to also pack a tripod for the best results
You'll want a head lamp to explore the canyon as it's dark and dimly lit
It's very dusty around the canyon, so a gaiter is very useful!
Given the lack of sunshine, it actually gets quite cold in the canyon. Make sure to pack a jacket
You should also pack water, snacks, lunch, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
For a complete gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a summary of everything you’d need for a trip to Ayacucho and Peru, read our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- We did this tour and then caught the night bus from Ayacucho to Lima that night: the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca tour is just a half day tour. So, you’ll have plenty of time to get back to Ayacucho and prepare for a night bus that evening.
- Consider the order of tours if you haven’t acclimatised: if you haven’t acclimatised, consider doing the 7 Cañones de Qorihuillca tour before visiting the Pools of Millpu. A day at a lower altitude (the canyon is around 2,761m) will help your body prepare for the higher altitude of the Pools of Millpu (approx. 3,500m).
- Stay at Casa Scure in Ayacucho: Beck and I had a great stay at Casa Scure. It’s centrally located and great value for money.
If you have any questions about this tour, fire away, by leaving us a comment below.
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