Once in the city, the
Plaza de Armas, the 'La Compañia de Jesus' church, which
has cloisters with ashlar (volcanic white stone or
'sillar") arcades, and the renowned Santa Catalina
Convent should not be missed. On the outskirts of: the
city some districts stand out because of their beauty,
like Cayma, which temple was built in 1730, or Yanahuara,
which belvedere offers a great view of the city
surrounded by volcanoes, such as Cachani, 1,076 meters
(3,529 feet) a.s.l.
Also important are the
Yura Chapel, the San Lazaro quarter the Sabandía Mill
and the Añazhuayco quarries, from where the ashlar
('sillar') is extracted. Arequipa is known as 'La Ciudad
Blanca" (White City) because of the color of its
The Mejia Lagoons National
Sanctuary is located on the coast of Arequipa, near the mouth of
the Tambo river, 20 km (12.4 miles) south of the port of Mollendo
and 150 krn (93 miles) from the city.
It is an isolated
ecosystem and the only vestige, between the north of
Chile and Pisco, of the ancient flooded lands that were
part of the American coast, drained for agriculture for
centuries. In spite of being located at sea level and 170
S latitude, the annual average temperature in the Mejía
Lagoons is usually 18º C (64.40 F), under the effect of
the Peruvian (Humboldt) warm stream.
The lagoons are
separated from the ocean by a large fringe of beaches and
sandy pits. Within the protected area (690 hectares/1,704
acres), several habitats are grouped, including lagoons
of different degrees of salinity, salt marsh, reed
patches, salt mines and wild grass that form a complex
ecosystem. This particularly valuable scenario homes 157
bird species, of which 72 are residents, 62 are regular
visitors and 24 sporadic visitors.
investigation efforts are being made today to entirely
preserve this natural treasure.
BLANCA AND SALINAS
Behind the Misti volcano, as
seen from the city, over an extensive plain at 4,000 meters
(13,120 feet) a.s.l. is the Aguada Blanca dam, declared a
National Reserve. It is a rather shallow and artificial lake
originated by the Blanco river containment. A little to the
south, behind the Pichu Pichu peak, is an even larger lagoon
called Salinas. These lagoons are a place for resting and nesting
for a large population of birds like the colorful flamingos.
There is a strong migratory relationship between these birds and
the ones from Mejía, 180 km (111.6 miles) from Salinas.
Located at the Aguada Blanca
National Reserve, behind the Chachani peak. At about 4,000 meters
(13,120 feet) a.s.I. this larger plain represents one of the best
habitats for the protection of vicuñas. a Peruvian camelid,
internationally known for its fine fleece. In Pampa Cañahuas,
these animals can be seen running completely free and, therefore,
without the shyness and apathy that seems to characterize them
To the north of Arequipa is the
higher course of the Colca river valley which deep canyon is
renowned among rafters. The section previous to the canyon
consists of an encased valley that runs from east to west,
beginning in the cold puna and running down to warmer regions,
showing its great scenic beauty and cultural attractiveness.
Colca Valley, in the villages of this valley one can see
beautiful scenery and plenty of terraces and colonial architectural monuments,
surrounded by a variety of platforms which are inhabited by descendants of the
ancient collaguas and cabins. In this region is situated the Famous Colca
This Impressive Canyon Is located 148 km northeast of Arequipa (caylloma
province). The Colca Canyon is known as one of the deepest of the earth, with
special attractions such as vicuña, condor sanctuary, hot springs and terraces,
among other; formed by the river of the same name where you can practice several
activities of adventure sports such as rafting, boating, canoes, kayaks and
paragliding. Count with 14 colorful Andean villages spread over the valley.
In addition you'll have great views of the smoking Sabancaya volcano, one of the
America's most active volcanoes, as well seeing the many traditional pre-Inca
agricultural terraces which line the steep valley sides. Also other
representative point of this stunning site is that you can be able to visit La
Cruz Del Condor (3320m), a 1½ hours from Chivay, From this natural observatory
you can observe into the deepest part of the canyon, and be witness of the
majestic flight of the Andean Condor, rising on the morning thermals (at around
One of the survival skills of
the ancient Colca people was the ability to store large amounts
of grain for hard times the warehouses, known as 'colcas', gave
name to the valley. In the 'cool' caves of Pumunuta, it is
possible to see circular colcas a meter (3.28 feet) in diameter,
mad of mud and straw.
such a deep valley, the rising winds are surprisingly
strong which big condors take advantage of to soar into
the sky easily.
Between Maca and
Cabanaconde, where winds are even stronger, is the Cruz
del Condor, an observation point, perfect for watching
the condors while they fly majestically.
ALONG THE COLCA-MAJES RIVER
From December to March, expert
and trained rafters can go along the high and middle section of
the river, explored by the 1979 Polish expeditions. It includes
very difficult and isolated rapids, as the towns are far from the
torrent. Although the low section may be ran over in rubber
rafts, only expert people, trained in kayac rafting can do it in
the canyon sections.
The name of the Colca river
changes as it flows down to the Pacific ocean, Past the canyon;
its name is Majes. Here, there are more chances for tourists to
go in rubber rafts. The chances of finding shelters and access
ways are better. Although its navigable section (Andamayo-Aplao
river) does not have long rapids, the beauty of landscape and the
clean river course allows enjoying the comfortable trip. The area
is open year round to visitors.
An ethnic group,
bearer of ancient and still strong traditions, has dwelled the
valley for more than 2,000 years. They are the Collaguas who
arrived to the Colca valley from the high regions and seem to be
descendants of the Aymaras because of their language and customs.
Even under the Inca dominion, they kept themselves relatively
Independent, and preserved their own traditions. It is sold that
the supreme Inca Mayta Capac married a Collagua princess in order
to formalize the conquest of the valley, and he built for her an
elegant country house made of copper, near Sibayo.
The early settlers of the
valley left their own peculiar trace in petroglyphs such as
Sumbay and Toro Muerto. Dancers with bizarre headdresses,
different mammals, condors, and lines of unbreakable codes
encompass the repertory of vast figures.
There are almost 20
towns along the valley, which people preserve the ethnic richness
of their past more than any other region of the country. The main
ones are Chivay, Cabanaconde, Huambo, Maca, Achoma, Yunque, Larl
and Coporaque, all very religious towns, whose Catholic faith
also keeps alive pre-Columbian elements. Each town has its own
church, bearer of its Hispanic and an example of architectural
sobriety and purity based on the ashlar stone.
VALLEY OF THE
Entering the -so called-
'Valley of the Volcanoes" of Andagua means going back
several geological eras to witness some outstanding phenomena
that only happen in two places In the world: the Canary
Islands and In this Arequipa valley.
The Andagua river valley
runs along the foothill of the great Coropuna volcano,
the highest in Peru and the tenth highest in South
America. Geothermal activity In this area has given birth
to about 80 volcanoes, all of them extinct which give
this area a moonlike aspect. Later, the Andagua river
disappears in a 17 km (10.5 miles) stretch, running under
the ground between the Chachas and the Mamacocho lagoons
before flowing into the Colca. Andagua can be reached
only by highway from the west.
Because of the
volcanic nature of the region, there is hot springs in different
areas of the valley. The main ones are Yunque, Chivay, Callalli,
La Calera, Huancarama, Yura and Jesus. Furthermore, these hot
springs are frequently related to 'puquiales", natural
sources of cold, extremely pure and 100% potable water.
Spectacular airplane flights are
available allowing a unique and extraordinary view of the main
attractions of Colca, that can only be seen from the air. There
are landing strips in Huambo (in the canyon), Orcopampa (near the
Volcano Valley), Coporaque (the high part of the valley),
Tiabaya, near Arequipa and also from the city airport.
SANTA CATALINA CONVENT
Built with the main reason of give a shelter to the daughters of the most
distinguished Families of the city, was Founded in September 1579 under the
patronage of Saint Catherine of Siena, is the most important and impressive
religious monument in Peru, which was closed to the world until 1970.
With an area of 20.426 m, preserves intact the characteristics of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, counting with narrow spaces, architecturally diverse
features rooms which one of the rooms has been converted into a gallery to
display some paintings from the Cuzco school, Arequipa and Quito. Then streets
and gardens that relate with Spanish names, from the European cities of Seville
and Granada. Have two important Museums that exhibit relics and religious
ornaments. Count also with other rooms or areas to visit as the Cloister of the
Goal, Pre-Columbian Museum, the Cloister of San Francisco, etc.
Santa Catalina 301. Open daily 9am - 5pm, last admission 4pm.
ANDEAN SANCTUARIES MUSEUMS
Is displayed at the Museum Sanctuary within a frozen glass container the
body of The Lady of Ampato, the prehispanic mummy best preserved in the world
that is popularly known as Juanita. Was found surrounded by valuable offerings
such as ceramics and pieces of gold and silver and according to the
investigators, would have been sacrificed to honor the snowy Ampato, when it was
ruled by Tupac Yupanqui. There are also almost 20 other mummies discovered from
Peru, Chile and even Argentina. The visitors will be able to see around the
woodcarvings, gold works and textiles. The Andean Sanctuaries Museum was
established in the Year 1996, following the important archaeological
investigations conducted by the Project "Height Sanctuaries Southern Andes".
Open: Monday to Saturday - 09:00 to 18:00, Sunday - 09:00 to 15:00
The Cotahuasi Canyon is located in the province of La Union, is The deepest
and most beautiful, has a depth of 3535 meters, was declared National Tourist
Reserved Zone in 1988, in recognition of its natural attractions, cultural and
archaeological, also count with other canyons such as; Inchukilka, Palmadera and
Sipia and impressive waterfalls like, Allankay, Sipia Huaccay. Then there are
two wonderful rainbows, where you can appreciate the flight of the condors at
According to several scientists of the National Geographic, was stated that
Cotahuasi is a center of cosmic energy and magnetism.
The Misti Volcano is essential and determinant scenery of beauty and the main
feature that represented the department of Arequipa, It is located 17.5 km
northeast of the city and you can reach the volcano (1 hour 30 minutes by car).
From the top of its summit you can observe at its all splendor the city of
Arequipa, the Chili River valley, and Chachani and Pichu Pichu.
Definitely climbing this volcano It is a unique experience that combines the
exciting process of ascension to the full satisfaction of reaching the summit,
exploring the crater and from there, to contemplate the fantastic view of the
city of Arequipa and its surroundings.