Arequipa and around

Shutterstock/7881817/Jarno Gonzalez ZarraThe distinctive volcanic
sillar
used in the building of the city of Arequipa, has given it its nickname of the 'White City'. Spanish churches, mansions and the 19th-century Plaza de Armas all shine with this stonework. In contrast, the city's most famous colonial jewel, the Santa Catalina convent, is painted in bright colours, a gorgeous little city within a city. This is only one attraction in a region of volcanoes, deep canyons and terraced valleys. The perfect cone of El Misti and its companions Chachani and Pichu-Pichu overlook Arequipa itself. Active Sabancaya and frequent earth tremors are reminders that this is a very unstable region.

Two famous canyons are within relatively easy reach. To arrive at these great gorges, you must take rough roads at high altitudes. Cotahuasi Canyon is the deepest in the world at 3354 m, but it has not yet achieved the same popularity as its neighbour, Colca. And it was only recently that the ancient peoples here, the Cabana and Collagua, had their villages and farms exposed to the gaze of tourism. There is excellent trekking and riding on the terraces of Colca, accommodation is improving all the time and the calendar is full of festivals. Above all, Colca also happens to be the best place in the whole world to get a close-up view of the majestic condor rising on the morning thermals. On the
altiplanos
of this region there are herds of alpaca and vicuña and, at the World Heritage Site of Toro Muerto, the largest field of petroglyphs in the world.

There's an individual feeling to this southwestern corner of Peru which, in part, stems from the stubborn pride of its people who have continuously attempted to gain more independence from Lima. Fellow Peruvians will jokingly refer to this region as the 'Independent Republic of Arequipa'.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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