Those looking to spend some quality hiking time in the valley and canyon can get to the region by public transportation or rental car from Arequipa and go out on their own. The largest number of inexpensive hotel accommodations is in Chivay. You can also camp throughout the canyon and valley, with the exception of Cruz del Cóndor.
The region is loaded with excellent hikes that can be done independently if you have suitable gear and camping equipment. Unless you're an experienced hiker, however, it's best to go with a guide.
Among the best hikes is a 2- to 3-hour, 1,300m (4,265-ft.) descent into Colca Canyon from the Cruz del Cóndor lookout. Because of the arduous, lengthy 5- or 6-hour climb back out, most travelers who do this hike end up camping down below near the Sangalle oasis with palm trees and water suitable for swimming. Hikes down to the canyon floor require good physical conditioning and preparedness (plenty of water, food, sunscreen, and so on). The trails are quite difficult in sections, and the altitude complicates the trek -- the drop is more than 1,000m (3,281 ft.). An even longer and more demanding hike is to the village of Tapay, beginning at Cabanaconde and following a good trail from the oasis via the Río Colca (about 6 hr. each way). The path is very steep.
Less taxing hikes are possible by simply walking from one village to another in the region. From Chivay to Yanque along the main road is about 7km (4 1/3 miles). You can continue from Yanque to the villages of Achoma (another 7km/4 1/3 miles), Maca (12km/7 1/2 miles), and Pinchollo (10km/6 1/4 miles). From there, on the way to Cabanaconde, it's about an hour to the Colca Geyser (Hatun Infiernillo).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.