- Peru’s second largest city after Lima
- Nicknamed “the White City” due to its city center made out of the white volcanic stone called sillar
- Located in South Peru on an altitude of 2,300m (7,500ft)
- The Colca Canyon is located at about 3 hours from Arequipa on an altitude of 3,600m (11,800ft)
- The Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and home to the famous Andean Condor
Arequipa is Peru’s second city in terms of population and economical influence and one feels the pride of its inhabitants. The city can look back on a rich colonial history during which the Spaniards made Arequipa one of the most important religious and economic cities of the country. This resulted in some failed attempts to gain independence from Peru but nowadays the modern Arequipeño decided to focus on what binds them rather what divides them; their love for food and the typical Andean Culture. The city of Arequipa has several highlights but the Monastery of Santa Catalina will always appear in the top 5 as well as the Museum of Juanita, a child mummy found in the region. The Colca Canyon cannot be missed when visiting Arequipa as this will allow you a new look on the Andean life and culture as well provide you with the opportunity to see several active volcanoes and the flight of the mighty Andean Condor through the blue skies of the canyon. Arequipa is also a center of gastronomy as it is here that the sea and the Andes meet resulting in some typical dishes such as Chupe de camarones or Rocoto relleno. Finally Arequipa is a great base for those who love hiking, rafting and other outdoors activities.
THINGS TO DO
Arequipa & Colca Canyon Hotels
Following you can find some of our favorite Arequipa and Colca Canyon Hotels. This list is of course far from complete so let us know if you would be interested in other properties as well.
Arequipa & Colca Canyon History
Arequipa is Peru’s second biggest city in terms of population and economy and even the capital for some years after the independence. Little proof has been found in the region for organized cultures before the Spanish conquest but it is known that the Inca roamed this land as well as the some earlier inhabitants as can be derived from several pre Inca mummies found on mountaintops in the region. The Spanish founded the city in 1540AC and has always been known for its loyalty to the Spanish Crown. This resulted in special privileges under the Spanish rule. These privileges allowed Arequipa to become an economic heavyweight in Peru, a position they still hold these days.
Arequipa & Colca Canyon Geography
The city is nicknames “the White City” due to its city center almost completely constructed with Sillar, a white volcanic stone that is found in several quarries close to the city. The city is located at about 1,000km (622mi) South of Lima and about 100km (60mi) from the Pacific Ocean. The city is located on an altitude of about 2,328m (7,638ft) above sea level on a highland pampa with on the West the road to the Pacific and on the East the first snowcapped mountains of the mighty Andes. The city skyline is characterized by the presence of three volcanic cones; the active Misti Volcano and the extinct Pichu Pichu and Chachani Volcanoes. A couple of hours to the east you will find yourself in the heart of the Andes in the Colca or Cotahuasi Canyon surrounded by snowcapped peaks up to 6,000m (20,000ft). The Colca Canyon is the second and the Cotahuasi Canyon the deepest in the world with depths of around 3,000m (9,900ft). Both are excellent for hiking and outdoors activities even though the Colca Canyon is easier to reach and has more accommodation and other facilities.
Arequipa & Colca Canyon Weather
- Rainy season from November through April
- Dry season April through October (best time to see the Condor)
- Average Min / Max Rainy season 8ºC/46ºF – 22ºC/71ºF
- Average Min / Max Dry season 5ºC/41ºF – 23ºC/73ºF
- Most rain falls in January and February
- Typical rapid climate changes & afternoon winds – common for mountainous regions
Arequipa & Colca Canyon Attractions
As any important city, Arequipa has quite some interesting places and sites to visit. Most of these can be found in the immediate surroundings of the Plaza de Armas. These are, apart from the Plaza itself -which according us is one of the nicest in Peru- the old Santa Catalina Monastery, the cathedral, the Iglesia de La Compania, the Museo Santuarios Andinos (Ica maiden Museum) and the Mirador de Yanahuara from where you can observe the city and its surroundings. Finally a visit to Arequipa is not complete without a visit to a typical picanteria (the regional restaurants) for lunch where you need to try the Chupe de Camarones, Rocoto Relleno or Queso Helado. The Colca Canyon also has its fair share of sights to see with on top of the list the Cruz del Condor, the most famous place in the world to see the Andean Condor in its natural habitat soaring on the thermal winds that the canyon holds. A visit to the Colca Canyon also goes hand in hand with a visit to one of the many thermal baths in the canyon which are known for their minerals, supposedly great for your skin. The Mirador de los Volcanes is another point that few people will forget as here you are at almost 5,000m above sea level and for many of us the highest they will ever get.