Arequipa Tours, Travel and Adventures
Tourism in Peru


Arequipa known as the White City, is surrounded by some of the wildest terrain in Peru. This is a land of active snowy volcanoes, high-altitude deserts, thermal hot springs, salt lakes and, last but not least, the world’s deepest canyons.

Arequipa - PERU: Arequipa known as the White City, is surrounded by some of the wildest terrain in Peru

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AREQUIPA: Travel and Tours in Peru

BOOKING: Tours, Activities, Hotels, To Visit Arequipa, Peru

Places to visit in Arequipa:

• Main Square and the Cathedral. The Main Square, famous for its symmetrical harmony and the architectural elegance of its double arcade, is also the departure point for sightseeing in the city.
To one side is the Cathedral, built Neoclassic in style and when taking its tour, you will see priceless works of religious and secular art, wood carvings and jewels, together with its renowned 19th century Belgian organ.

• Church and Cloisters of the Company of Jesus. A supreme testimony of 17th century religious architecture, the church and its adjoining cloisters are located at one of the corners to the Main Square. As quoted by experts, it might just be the most beautiful and complete architectural complex in Arequipa. Inside, it boasts more than 60 paintings from the Cusco School and an extremely handsome wood carved pulpit.

• Saint Catherine Monastery. A small, walled-in city within a city, it has cloisters, plazas, streets, buildings with Spanish roof tiles and cobblestone floors. It opened in 1580 as a cloister for nuns.
Displayed on its interior are Colonial paintings from the Cusco School, wood carvings, statues, objects of worship and well preserved rooms showing what daily life was like for nuns more than 400 years ago.

• La Recoleta Convent. A 17th century Franciscan convent, the architectural styles vary from Romantic to Neogothic. It is famous for its enormous library containing more than 20,000 books, some of which are more than 400 years old.

• Saint Teresa Museum of Viceroyal Art. The Monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites of Saint Joseph opened its doors as the Museum of Viceroyal Art 295 years after its founding. Since the cloister remained as such for almost 3 centuries, time stopped in every corner of the building and in every object. You will see the most exquisite collection of paintings and sculptures, religious objects and furniture from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

• San Lázaro Quarter. A charming quarter of tiny streets, narrow alleyways, small plazas and wide houses. It is known for being the oldest in Arequipa, and supposedly the spot where the city was founded. In 1538, some Dominican priests established themselves there.

• Yanahuara Plaza. One of the most important churches in Arequipa, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, is located in this peaceful plaza. It was built in 1750 and is still considered to be an architecture jewel. It is also the place where you can climb the Mirador (lookout) that poets from this area have written inscriptions on and from where you will enjoy a spectacular view of the city and its three volcanoes.

• Mansions. Elegant homes from architectural traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries, easily recognizable as one walks down the city streets and through the plazas of downtown. Some of the finest examples are the Del Moral mansion (dates from the 18th century and its façade is one of the best Baroque expressions in Arequipa), the Goyoneche mansion (foundations of which originally date from 1558 and is famous for its ornate architecture and its
Colonial art works) and the Tristán del Pozo mansion (built in 1738 on top of the remains of certain 16th century homes; it exhibits unique characteristics of Arequipa’s architectural style).

• San Agustín National University’s Museum of Archeology. On display are pre-Hispanic textiles, mummies, stone and metal artifacts, and its most prized collection is the Yabar Collection of keros, or ceremonial vases.

• City Historical Museum. Exhibitions relate to time periods corresponding to Peruvian Independence and the Republic, showing objects, documents, photos and authentic uniforms worn during the war. Santa María Catholic University Museum of Archeology and of Andean Sanctuaries. The former is an exposition, in chronological and scientific order, of the entire cultural development of the department of Arequipa throughout history, and the latter displays different mummies, such as the Ice Maiden (Mummy Juanita).

• Museum of Contemporary Art. On permanent exhibition here are works from Peruvian painters from the turn of the 20th century to the present, sculptures and photos from the renowned Vargas brothers.

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Sites in the Arequipa countryside:

• Sabandía. A lovely district, where pre-Incan terraces are still used to grow crops. Some of the houses still flaunt Republican architectural traces from the 19th century. There is also a Colonial mill, the Molino de Sabandía.

• Socabaya. A town full of history where you can explore a place called The Socabaya Rocks, caves that distill water; likewise, the City Founder’s House was built in Huasacache, a mansion for the founder of Arequipa, Garcí Manuel de Carbajal.

• Sogay. A charming little village, on the outskirts of which, the same as with Quequeña, spread out upon an open plain, are plenty of petroglyphs and some 500 year old ruins. Sogay is also famous for its different waterfalls; visiting them means that you must hike through a small canyon.

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Excursions from Arequipa:

• Lagunas de Mejía National Sanctuary. It is the only surviving wetlands along 2,000 km of coastline in Peru. While its area is rather small (1,705 acres), 8 different habitats are found there and it is also a strategic stopover point for migratory birds (more than 200 species).

• Atiquipa Hills and Quebrada de la Waca. Near the city of Chala. The former is an area of hills along the coastline covered with distinctive vegetation. This phenomenon begins in northern Chile and moves upwards into part of the Peruvian coast. It is a habitat rich in trees and other plants, several of which are endemic. Ancient Peruvians capitalized on the resources found in these hills by constructing terraces, colcas (storehouses), trails and other buildings from the time of the Incas, like Quebrada Waca (now Puerto Inca), which is located across from the Atiquipa hills. Because it was the coastal point closest to the city of Cusco, it was chosen by the Incas to be a staging ground for the products extracted in this area, including fish and other seafood, chili peppers, and others, that were processed stored, and then transported to the Incan capital city.

• Toro Muerto and Querullpa. Toro Muerto contains one of the world’s largest collections of petroglyphs. It is an area of 1,236 acres strewn with stone upon which ancient peoples carved thousands of images (animals, geometric designs and dancers) between the years 700 A.D and 1,500 A.D. Just a few minutes away is Querullpa and its amazing footprints of prehistoric animals that lived in this area 150 to 200 million years ago, when this mountainous setting was a serene beach.

• Valley of the Volcanoes. (Andagua). An enchanted land, starting at an altitude 5,577 fasl and rising to 12,467 fasl, where more than 30 small coned volcanoes can be seen. These dwarf volcanoes vary in height (100 feet, 200, 300 and even 1,000 feet) create an uncommon spectacle as you move among the dried lava flows created from enormous eruptions. Their villages are inhabited by people who constantly struggle to survive in the harsh environment. In the lava, you can see highly specialized plants and animals, including 16 species of cacti.

• Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve. An impressive setting of volcanoes, rivers, salt licks and strange rock formations. It protects a dry puna ecosystem that is necessary for the conservation of the Chili River basin and for the vicuña, in addition to other plant and animal species found in this habitat, such as three species of flamingos (parihuanas), another 141 other bird species and 358 varieties of plants. The area has a 840,158-acre extension, and within it rise mounts Misti (19,160 fasl), Chachani (19,931 fasl) and Ubinas (18,622 fasl), all volcanoes and the latter being the most active in Peru nowadays.

• Sumbay Caves. Taking a small access road from the main route to the Colca Valley, you can reach these caves and their 500 examples of cave paintings that are between 6,000 and 8,000 years old.

• Colca Valley and Canyon. A destination that never runs out of experiences, gathering together natural wealth, living history and adventure sports like rafting, mountaineering, mountain biking, hiking and horse back riding. Its depth has been measured at 11,155 feet (twice that of the Grand Canyon).

There are 14 villages from the Colonial era spread throughout the canyon, each with extraordinary specimens of civil and religious architecture, stone houses that are thatched with ichu grass and wheat stalks, as well as ancient churches in the towns of Lari, Yanque, Cabanoconde and Sibayo – absolute masterpieces of the Mixed Baroque style. At the rim of the canyon, you can find lookouts, strategically placed, where you can take in the entire scene and the majestic flight of the condor.

• Cotahuasi Valley and Canyon. A striking natural setting in the heights of the department, home to a huge amount of biodiversity and scenic beauty, such as the impressive vistas of mounts Coropuna and Solimana, eternally snow-covered, the Sipia waterfall and its hotsprings and the Cotahuasi Canyon (with a depth similar to the Colca Canyon). The Peruvian State has declared the area a scenic reserve (protected natural area) and it is a perfect site for trekking, rafting, rock climbing, paragliding and mountain biking.

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Festival of Our Lady of Chapi. May. A traditional pilgrimage to the Chapi Sanctuary, 90 Km from the city of Arequipa, takes place.

Anniversary of the founding of the city of Arequipa. August 15th.
Several activities occur during the celebration, such as the International Fair (taking place on Juli Hill), crafts expositions, Festidanza (a dance show) and the Race up Mount Misti International competition.

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“Be prepared to fall under the spell of Arequipa, its regal architecture and impressive geography.”

A World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO, the White City knows well how to maintain its Colonial heritage to the point that you can do your banking in old and gorgeous mansions. The downtown is particularly beautiful, with a heart of finished white volcanic stone called sillar that has been fashioned into arches, façades and cupolas. Its people are kind and enjoy good conversation and relish living under the watchful gaze of their guardian volcano, Mount Misti. An added bonus is the 340 days of brilliant sun as well as the exquisite main square, conquered by noisy pigeons, a demonstration of its people’s hospitality.

The department of Arequipa is dominated by the Andean Mountains with the chain reaching the very lip of the continent at Atico, a coastline zone with beutiful beaches. In Chala, the closest coastal point to the department of Cusco, the Incas built citadels with stone in front of the sea.

As there are huge snowcapped mountains rising high into the sky, so are there deep wounds in the surface of the Earth. Canyons like Cotahuasi and Colca, that start out as fertile, terraced and pleasant valleys that later taper and plunge into dizzying canyons. These are some of the deepest places found on the planet, yet places where kind people live, the wind blows strongly and shrimp abound. The Lagunas de Mejía National Sanctuary is the only stopping point for over 2,000 kilometers for more than 70 species of migratory birds.

The list is long, yet there is still a rather important footnote to Arequipa, and that is its famous and diversified cuisine, full of scents and concoctions that match its magnificent landscape and towering volcanoes.

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Arequipa welcomes travelers with open arms and a well prepared table with plenty of variety to the food found there. At the feet of Mount Misti sit a heart-stirring countryside and a city dressed up in white from the sillar stones that its main buildings are fashioned out of.

Routes & length of stay

  • City of Arequipa.
  • Sites in the Arequipa countryside.
  • Salinas and Aguada Blanca
  • National Reserve.
  • Lagunas de Mejía National
  • Sanctuary.
  • Colca Valley.
  • Valley of the Volcanoes.
  • Cotahuasi Valley.
  • Pisco brandy cellars route and
  • Toro Muerto.
  • Mount Misti ascent.

Other circuits:

Desert and beach circuit: La Joya, Matarani, Mollendo (1 day), Mejía, Lagunas de Mejía National Sanctuary (1 day), Tambo Valley (1 day).

Volcanoes and Canyons circuit: Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve (2 days), Colca Canyon (2 days), Valley of the Volcanoes (2 days), Cotahuasi (2 days), Majes Valley – Toro Muerto – Pisco brandy cellars route (2 days).

1 Puerto Inca
2 Cotahuasi
3 Colca Canyon
4 Lagunas de Mejía National Sanctuary
5 Valley of the Volcanoes
6 Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve
7 Toro Muerto

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Accommodation and tourist services

The city of Arequipa offers a wide gamut of hotels, up to 5 stars. In Colca, certain towns in the valley boast accommodations of up to 3 stars. In Cotahuasi and Orcopampa, two places located in the Valley of the Volcanoes, there are lodges and other basic accommodation.

You can find transportation, restaurants and other tourist services in Arequipa. In the Colca Valley, there is transportation (car and bus) as well as full service trekking and rafting outfitters. If you wish to visit the Valley of the Volcanoes and Cotahuasi, we recommend hiring specialized services.

The city of Arequipa also possesses the proper infrastructure for organizing conventions and congresses.
Because of its strategic location, Arequipa is the jumping off point for many circuits in the southern region of Peru.

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Recommended for

History, archeology and petroglyph buffs, who will thoroughly enjoy the city of Arequipa and its architecture (mansions and churches), Atiquipa, the Toro Muerto petroglyphs and the Sumbay caves.

Nature lovers, bird watchers and researchers, who, while visiting the surrounding countryside, the Colca and Cotahuasi valleys, Lagunas de Mejía National Sanctuary and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, will experience the greatness these lands have been blessed with.

Adventure sports aficionados, who live for trekking, rafting, mountaineering (ascending volcanoes like mounts Misti, Chachani, Ampato and Coropuna, as well as other peaks in the Chila Mountain Range) and rock climbing.


Hydrotherapy devotees, who will find that the volcanic nature of the department’s geology has produced hot springs with medicinal properties, like those in Yura and Socosani near the city of Arequipa, Calera Chivay and Yanque in the Colca, Huancarama in the Valley of the Volcanoes and Luicho in Cotahuasi.

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What to buy?

You can practically reach out and touch the vibe of the culture expressed by Arequipa’s watercolorists, modern painters and writers, not to mention the artisans who work in sillar stone, textiles, embroidery (absolute best found in Colca) and leather embossing. There are also the producers of fine chocolates and fine liqueurs.

What to eat?

To experience the true taste of the White City, you must find your way to one of the so-called picanterias (traditional restaurants where they cook over open flame). A good table begins with a rocoto relleno (spicy red chili pepper that is stuffed with beef, spices and hard boiled egg, topped with a cheese and milk mixture, then oven baked), moves on to the soups, preferably the caldo blanco (chunks of mutton, potatoes, corn, garbanzo beans, starch and spices) or the puchero (boiled beef, pork and chicken with vegetables and spices), passes to the main dishes, of which there are many fabulous options to choose from, like adobo (pork loin marinated in garlic, onions and chicha de jora – corn beer – and served with bread), any of the picantes (stews with a base of pork, beef, mutton or duck), a chupe de camarones (prawn chowder, seasoned with red chili peppers and chocked full of faba beans, rice, corn kernels and potatoes) or the fried malaya (flank steak, boiled and seared), and ends with a dessert, the favor te being queso helado (“frozen cheese” directly translated, but really a type of coconut and cinnamon ice cream), but you may also choose from a wide range of chocolates and toffees. To wash that all down, order one of the local beers or a regionally produced soft drink or even chicha de jora (corn beer). If you wish for a “digestivo” – a beverage to aid in digestion, drank after the meal – then order a té piteado (anise infusion) or Anís Najar (a local anisette).

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The Arequipa region is one of the most geographically, culturally, and socially varied of Peru. Main attractions of the department are the city of Arequipa, the Colca Canyon, adventure tourism, and wildlife observation. The city of Arequipa, the second largest in the nation, is known as the “white city.” The name comes from the colour of the city’s buildings which are made of sillar that comes from the volcanoes in the area.

The city is overshadowed by the El Misti volcano which adds to the city’s charm. It is the most developed city in Peru after Lima. The Historic centre of Arequipa was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the United Nations for its abundance of Spanish baroque colonial churches and mansions, and the Santa Catalina Monastery, a city within a city with cobblestone roads, plazas, and patios. Arequipan cuisine has remained more heavily influenced by Spanish colonial cuisine than that in Lima and it has remained relatively free from the later influence of immigrants that migrated to Lima, such as the Chinese and Japanese. The Colca Canyon is 100 miles northwest of Arequipa and is double the depth of the Grand Canyon in the United States. The Cotahuasi Canyon, located nearer to the city but considered less picturesque, is the deepest in the Western Hemisphere.

– Sillar stone quarries. The quarry is near the airport and is a gorge where water erosion has produced a small canyon of sillar. This stone was deposited there from eruptions of the Chachani volcano, millions of years ago. There is a new tourist circuit highlighting the Añashuayco quarries in which a set of different tourist experiences are being offered; tourists can engage in a type of experiential tourism, because of the stone cutters, who use age old techniques for carving the traditional stone blocks employed in the construction of the city’s main buildings, nature and cultural tourism, thanks to the impressive natural backdrop and a refurbishing project of a huge amphitheater, and adventure tourism on account of the rock climbing scene and hiking routes.

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Colca Canyon

The Colca river begins high in the Andes, at Condorama Crucero Alto, drops down to the Pacific in stages, changing its name to Majes and then Camana as it goes. Where it runs between the tiny mountain villages of Chivay to Cabanaconde is a deep canyon known as the Colca Canyon.

This canyon is reportedly the deepest in the world, thought to be twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA. Unlike most of the Grand Canyon, portions of the Colca canyon are habitable, with pre-Colombian terraced fields still supporting agriculture and human life.

Colca Canyon can be visited any time of year, but it is most beautiful, and safer, after the rains cease. Live volcanos are nearby, and seismic activity can cause landslides or otherwise make the ground unstable. Volcan Sabancayo is more active than Ampato, which you may recall as the site where the now famous Ice Mummy was found.

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