Day 1. La Ciudad Blanca (The White City)
Maison Du Soleil
Arequipa City Tour
Have your camera ready to go, as you will be marveled with the spectacular view of the Plaza de Armas (the main square) in the evening. Take time to enjoy the beautiful lights and sights of the Plaza de Armas, as well as the bars and many fine restaurants that populate Arequipa’s downtown.
Welcome to the refined, colonial city of Arequipa. A day at this elevation allows one to acclimatise a bit before heading much higher into the Andes. After a briefing at your hotel about the tour, we take a trip to a very important religious monument: the Santa Catalina Monastery. Almost a citadel, the monastery (founded in 1580) received nuns from Spain’s wealthiest families in colonial times. Our local guide will share stories with you about the lifestyle of nuns at that time.
Lunch in Arequipa is an opportunity to sample some typical Arequipeño dishes.
Next, we head to a demonstration and overview of working with sillar, the cream-coloured volcanic rock that gives Arequipa its nickname, the White City. Our tour continues with a visit to the Alpaca Museum. (Alpaca are South American cameloids, the animals which call the high Andes home and from which we get a very fine fibre, indeed; it’s not unlike cashmere in quality.) Here, there are women demonstrating how alpaca fibre is traditionally woven – utilizing weaving methods still alive and well today in communities throughout southern Peru.
Included in the tour is a cooking demonstration featuring typical Arequipeño dishes; here, you can show off your cooking talent and learn a few new skills!
Later in the day, you are free to wander about the city and do some shopping, if you so desire. This is indeed a good chance to buy alpaca garments, in that Arequipa is the centre of alpaca yarn production in Peru – and the world! (More than 80% of alpaca yarn in the world is produced in Arequipa.) A wide variety of shops from which to choose awaits you, and we will be happy to advise you on the best places to buy your alpaca garments.
Keep your camera at the ready; Plaza de Armas in the evening can provide an almost heavenly view – as can the surrounding 20,000-foot mountains. There’s time to enjoy the beautiful city lights and various sights of Plaza de Armas, as well as the bars and many fine restaurants that one finds in downtown Arequipa.
Day 2. Colca Canyon – Chivay – Cabanaconde
In the morning, after breakfast, we set off to Colca Canyon (3,191 meters, 10,460 feet), the second deepest canyon in the world – and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the U.S.! On the trip (four hours in length, more or less), we venture across Pampa Cañahuas in the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, an area that vicuña and alpaca call home. We also see lakes and the birds of the altiplano. The view up here will take your breath away – both metaphorically and in actuality, owing to the altitude. In fact, before descending to Chivay (the provincial capital of the canyon), we cross one of the highest points on our tour: a mountain pass which is 4,830 meters above sea level (about 15,800 feet!). This is the Mirador de los Volcanes (Viewpoint of the Volcanoes); here, one can see the Arequipa volcano chain: Hualcahualca, Sabancaya, and Ampato (all above 6,000 meters – about 20,000 feet in elevation).
In Chivay, we sample Andean cuisine: quinoa, alpaca, and mazamorra.
Next, we continue our trip to Cabanaconde (minumum of 6 people is required); along the way we see striking landscapes and some of the deepest spots of the canyon. After arrival and transfer to the hotel, we explore two stunning viewpoints along the rim of the Colca Canyon from where you can spot the Oasis de Sangalle – a rather famous location where trekkers begin their descent into the valley. A bit later, we stop to visit some local artisans, to watch how they make their traditional clothes. At night, it’s time for some delicious Andean food and a private traditional music performance.
Overnight in Cabanaconde (or Chivay in case of less than 6 passengers) in a very comfortable hotel.
Day 3. Cruz del Condor – Arequipa
End of the Tour
After an early breakfast, we leave for “Cruz del Condor” (Condor´s Cross) and – considering the fact that Cabanaconde is just 15 minutes away – we will in all likelihood avoid the throng of visitors coming from Chivay and Arequipa! Then, with a small amount of luck, we will witness majestic condors soaring across the sky and above the rim of the canyon.
We stop in a few typical Andean communities along the way: Yanque, Achoma, and Maca, before we reach Chivay, where we will enjoy a buffet lunch.
After a buffet lunch, we begin our journey back to Arequipa.
Transfer to Arequipa airport to board the flight to Lima or Cusco, or to the hotel of your choice. In case you decide to spend a few extra days in Arequipa, or head to Puno, we will be delighted to organize any supplementary excursions.