Arequipa, known as “the white city” for its buildings made of white volcanic stone, lies at the feet of the mighty volcanoes of Mt Chachani, Mount Misti, and the snow covered peak of Mount Pichu Pichu. The historic, downtown area of Peru’s second-largest city is an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and features many baroque churches and mansions from the Spanish colonial era, including the exquisite Monastery of Santa Catalina with its cobblestone streets, flowering patios, and bright plazas. The unique vibe in the neighboring districts of Sabandía, Tiabaya, and Tingo is not to be missed.
Arequipa’s famed foodie scene has also put the city on the radar for travelers in recent years.
Less than four hours from the city center is the Colca River valley and canyon, one of the most remarkable destinations in the country. Throughout the region, you’ll see colorful, pre-Incan agricultural terraces still used today for growing quinoa, corn, barley, and wheat.
During the pre-Hispanic times, the region was inhabited by the Collaguas and Cabanas cultures. Today, the inhabitants still conserve their Colonial churches, although in Yanque, Lari, and Madrigal, you’ll continue to witness the inhabitants practicing their ancestral traditions.
The Colca Valley is also an ideal destination for lovers of adventure sports such as mountain biking, hiking, and whitewater rafting. At the “Cruz del Condor” overlook, you’ll see the majestic Andean Condors flying overhead. Other noteworthy places in the region are the Toro Muerto petroglyphs, the Andagua Valley of the Volcanoes, and the Cotahuasi Canyon.
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