Arequipa

The city of Arequipa stands in a beautiful valley at the foot of El Misti volcano, a snow-capped, perfect cone, 5822 m high, guarded on either side by the mountains Chachani (6057 m) and Pichu-Pichu (5669 m). The city was re-founded on 15 August 1540 by an emissary of Pizarro, but it had previously been occupied by the Aymara and the Incas. It has since grown into a magnificent city - fine Spanish buildings and many old and interesting churches built of sillar (a pearly white volcanic material almost exclusively used in the construction of Arequipa) exude an air of intellectual rigour and political passion. Among its famous sons and daughters are former President Fernando Belaúnde Terry and the novelist and failed presidential candidate, Mario Vargas Llosa . Now, Arequipa is the main commercial centre for the south and its fiercely proud people resent the general tendency to believe that everything is run from Lima.

Getting there

Aeropuerto Rodríguez Ballón
,
has two desks offering hotel reservations and free transport to town and car rentals. The journey from airport to town takes 30 to 40 minutes depending on the traffic. Transport to the airport may be arranged when buying a ticket at a travel agency, but it's not always reliable. Local buses and combis go to about 500 m from the airport, look for ones marked 'Río Seco', 'Cono-Norte' or 'Zamacola'.

All buses use one of the two terminals south of the city centre.
The older terminal is called
Terminal Terrestre
, which contains a tourist office, shops and places to eat. The newer terminal is
Terrapuerto
, the other side of the car park, also with a tourist office. Theft is a serious problem in the bus station area. Take a taxi to and from the bus station and do not wander around with your belongings. No one is allowed to enter the terminal between 2100-0500, so new arrivals cannot be met by hoteliers between those hours; best not to arrive at night.

Getting around

Arequipa is a compact city with the main places of interest and hotels within a few blocks of the Plaza de Armas. Take a bus or taxi if you want to the visit the suburbs. A cheap circular tour of the city, down Calles Jerusalén and San Juan de Dios, can be made in a Vallecito bus.

Tourist information

iperú
have 3 offices in Arequipa: the
central office, and
Casona Santa Catalina
. The third is at the airport, in the
arrivals hall
 but only open when flights are arriving. All the iperú offices are helpful and have free maps of the city and the region with points of interest marked, as well as leaflets with information about the main attractions of the area. Also
Municipal tourist office
, www.arequipa-tourism.com
;
Dircetur
(
regional tourist office
), arequipa @mincetur.gob.pe;
Indecopi
(tourist protection bureau)
mcornejo@indecopi.gob.pe.

Security

There has been an increase in street crime in Arequipa, with many reports of taxi drivers in collusion with criminals to rob both tourists and locals. Theft can be a problem in the market area, especially after dark, in the park at Selva Alegre and on Calles San Juan de Dios and Alvarez Thomas. Be very cautious walking south of the Plaza de Armas area at night. The police are conspicuous, friendly, courteous and efficient, but their resources are limited.

Climate

Arequipa enjoys a wonderful climate, with a mean temperature before sundown of 23°C, and after sundown of 14°C. The sun shines 360 days of the year. Annual rainfall is less than 150 mm.

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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