Arequipa, the White City
Located in the southern part of Peru, it is the second most populous city with nearly 1’000’000 inhabitants. This city is located at the foot of the Misti volcano, with the Chachani and Picchu Picchu Volcanoes in the background. It is recognized for its historic heritage, natural scenery and cultural sites, as well as it’s gastronomy.
With numerous Colonial temples, churches, convents and monasteries, the UNESCO officially named Arequipa’s Historic Center to belong to Humanity’s Cultural Heritage.
Arequipa was founded on August 15, 1540. It is called the “White City” due to the white volcanic stone (sillar) which is used for constructing much of the city´s buildings. Every year they celebrate the foundation anniversary with a traditional activity which gathers people from many towns in Arequipa called the Friendship Parade (Corso de Amistad) which includes typical dances not only from the city but also from other towns of the country.
Valle de los Volcanes - Volcano Valley
This Andean valley is located north of Arequipa at 3600 meters in the slope of the Coropuna Volcano 6,425 meters above sea level (21,079 feet). It is the highest in Peru. The circuit has 85 volcanoes which resemble the lunar landscape because of its arid and desertic landscape. They are a geological formation of the Quaternary Age. The most known volcanoes are Misti, Ampato, Chachani and Picchu Picchu.
Cañon del Colca – Colca Canyon
On the way to Colca you will go across the high Andean plateau. You will reach 4,800 meters above sea level (15,800 feet) and be able to see “vicuñas” in their natural environment and the "Mirador de los Volcanes," which offers fine views of several volcanoes of more than 6,000 meters (20,600 feet).
Colca is located northeast of Arequipa in the province of Caylloma, it is one of the world’s deepest canyons: 4,150 meters. It is the habitat of many animals, like the Andean Condor, around 100 different bird species, alpacas, vicuñas and other camelids. There are eighteen towns along the Colca Valley, each has its own characteristics and rich cultural heritage.
One of the most spectacular things to do is to watch the flight of the condors which can be spotted at the "Cruz del Condor." The best time to go is approximately between dawn to 10:00 a.m.
Puerto de Matarani – Port of Matarani & Mollendo
Located in the district of Islay, Matarani is one of the three main Peruvian ports attached to a large scale industrial and commercial harbor. The nearest city to Matarani is Mollendo, the provincial capital of Islay, and a city with an interesting past and present history.
Located only twelve kilometers south of Mollendo, it is a small beach town, known for its old houses built at the turn of the century, and the Lagunas de Mejia National Sanctuary, wetlands that are home to flocks of migratory birds and a number of endemic species.
The Lady of Ampato
Inca Ice Maiden or “Momia Juanita”
Momia Juanita was discovered on Mount Ampato which is part of the Andes Mountains) in Arequipa, south of Peru by a Dutch anthropologist called Johan Reinhard. She is a young Inca girl of approximately 11-15 years old who was killed an offered as a sacrifice to the Inca gods around 1450 and 1480. It is an impressive well-preserved frozen body. It has also been displayed in Washington DC and Japan. It can be seen at the Museo de Santuarios Andinos.
Arequipean cuisine is known for being one of the most varied and delicious of all of Peru. Quoting Rafo León on this: “If Arequipa gastronomy is an emblem, the picanteria is an institution. Picanterias are traditional restaurants, where food is cooked the traditional way”. A good meal includes Rocoto Relleno (a rocoto pepper baked with chopped meat, spices, cheese, eggs and milk) Ocopa (boiled potato slices with peanut cream) and adobo (pork stew). Arequipa has many different dishes, like chupes (shrimp soup) and ceviche. Deserts are no exception, and Queso helado is one of the best (ice cream made from milk, cinnamon, coconut and spices).
Written by Patricia M. Rodriguez