Get to know a whole new side of Peru with a visit to Arequipa and Colca Canyon, two regions rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. Here’s how to make the most of your time in this less-visited region of Peru.
What To See In Arequipa
Located in the foothills of Misti Volcano, the magical city of Arequipa is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage City. The metropolis is often known as “The White City” for its use of white volcanic stone called sillar as a building material. The result is a series of striking architectural creations you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Here are some top things to do in Arequipa.
A massive (and beautiful) monastery that serves as something of a city within a city. Founded in 1580, the space is known for its brightly colored walls, gardens, and art pieces.
Santa Teresa Monastery
This stunning site, built in 1710, doubles as a museum and functioning monastery. The monastery’s lovely Museum of Virceregal Art features more than 300 art pieces from the 16th through 19th centuries and a tranquil garden. The monastery is also home to 15 practicing Carmelite nuns, who do not interact with the outside world, but whose peaceful chants can be heard around the building at certain times of the day.
Santuarios Andinos Museum
This museum is home to Juanita, an Inca mummy of a young girl who was killed in the 1400s as a ceremonial sacrifice to the gods. Juanita is strikingly well-preserved, and on a visit to the museum, you’ll get to learn the context and history of her role in the Inca empire.
The Sillar Route
Get to know the origins of Arequipa’s famous sillar by exploring the Sillar Route on the city’s outskirts. Visit a local sillar quarry, learn the history of the material, and meet the hard-working locals who expertly carve blocks from the stone.
Arequipeño food is delicious, so it’s no surprise that the city is the birthplace to many of Peru’s most popular traditional dishes. Eating is one of the most delightful things to do in Arequipa. You’ll especially want to try rocoto relleno, a chili pepper and meat dish, and chupe de camarones, a tasty seafood soup. Try local favorites at top notch Arequipa restaurants like Zig Zag, La Trattoria del Monasterio, Chicha, and Crepisimo.
Where To Stay In Arequipa
Hotel Cirqa is a beautiful new boutique hotel that captures Arequipa’s unique energy and the architectural style. The eleven-room property is partially made of sillar rock and housed in a lovingly restored historic parador with stunning design reminiscent of 1540, the year of Arequipa’s founding. In centuries past, the parador belonged to the San Agustín Church, and monks would host travelers there with unsurpassed service. The building’s last major structural changes were in 1883, so you’ll be experiencing a truly historic space with thoughtful contemporary perks. The hotel features two charming patios where you can kick back and relax, and top notch amenities for everything you’ll need to rejuvenate between adventures.
Other lovely lodging options in Arequipa include Costa del Sol, a charming colonial style building in Selva Alegre park; and Casa Andina, located in the beautifully restored former 1794 Mint House.
What To See In Colca Canyon
Visits to Arequipa often go hand in hand with visits to Colca, and for good reason: this breathtaking region is full of natural beauty and historic wonder. If you love the outdoors or can’t get enough of history, this is the place for you. Here’s what to explore in Colca.
Colca Hot Springs
This region is well known for the wonderful Colca hot springs. The natural springs are warm and rich in natural minerals, and the waters are believed to have medicinal healing properties. If you have sore muscles from a hike or outdoor adventure, the hot springs are the perfect antidote. You can find both public and private hot springs – some of the best in the region are the luxe springs at Colca Lodge, which are reserved for guests. As far as public Colca hot springs go, options include La Calera Hot Springs in Chivay, and Chacapi Hot Springs in Yanque, and Tambo Hot Springs in Yanque.
Uyo Uyo Ruins
Uyo Uyo is a striking pre-Inca archaeological site next to the Colca River. Once inhabited by the Collagua culture, and later by the Inca, this ancient village provides a window into what daily life might have been like for these communities. The site can be reached on horseback or on foot, and the journey itself offers views of many other fascinating landmarks.
Colca’s Historic Churches
If you like architecture, you’ll love Colca Canyon’s many historic colonial-era churches. Colca Canyon is home to 15 churches that date back to the 16th century. The quaint villages around these churches are right in the midst of the great outdoors, and are often best reached by trek. Seeking them out is a perfect way to combine a love of culture with outdoor adventure. Many of the churches make for ideal hiking pit stops or trek starting points. On your outdoor journey, don’t forget to look up: Colca Canyon is the home of the beloved and majestic Andean condor.
Where To Stay In Colca
Colca Lodge is a delight. The property’s newly opened private villa, known as the Owner’s House, is a next level experience in luxury. Enjoy the adobe villa’s outdoor terrace, BBQ, jacuzzi, and gardens. Of course, you’ll want to leave your villa paradise from time to time to wander over to Colca Lodge’s famous private Colca hot springs. Take a dip in the Lodge’s four natural thermal baths and sip on drinks from the nearby bar as you relax in the water. You can also enjoy a massage at the Lodge’s Eco-Spa.
Another fantastic place to stay is Las Casitas del Colca, a part of Belmond luxury group that provides a world-class experience amid Colca’s natural beauty. This tranquil property features 20 individual bungalows with their own hot tubs for ultimate relaxation, along with a spa, pool, and horseback riding.
Ready to explore Arequipa and Colca? Contact us for more information and tailormade itineraries!