Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru, is surrounded by so much natural beauty – from the mind-blowing depths of the Cotahuasi Canyon, to the Misti Volcano providing a spectacular backdrop to the city. For those who are looking for something slightly off the beaten track, (over 370km outside of Peru to be exact) consider the Valley of the Volcanoes formed in the Quaternary age.
Spectacularly moon-like, the Valley of the Volcanoes is an amazing geological formation featuring more than 80 non-active volcanoes. Surrounded by desert landscape, despite being in the valley of Andagua River, this 65km stretch is fascinating to visit. Situated between the Colca and the Cotahuasi Canyon, this trip provides amazing unparealled views. These craters range in size and height (some less than 20 meters) and provide stunning views of the valley. The highest volcano in Peru, Mount Coropuna which stands at 6,425m, and Chachas Lake are also located in this region.
Devoid of tourists, the Valley of the Volcanoes is an adventurer’s and trekker’s paradise. Sighted by Robert Shippee and George Johnson in 1929 as they flew over the valley, you will have the opportunity to admire this beautiful lunar scenery.
Despite much of the landscape having been built by lava, robust flora survives. Much of it consists of cacti such as sanqallos and chacacoma used by locals for medicinal purposes. You may also spot a few viscacha, a chinchilla that looks like a rabbit except for its rather long tail.
For those who have the time and the inclination, the Valley of the Volcanoes is worth a diversion from your itinerary.