If you’re considering a Peru tour, Arequipa could be ideal for a mixture of history and activities.
Arequipa is a particularly interesting stop on South America tours thanks to the fact that it is the second largest city in Peru.
Founded in 1540, the destination is renowned for its amazing white buildings made from the white volcanic rock sillar, which is what gives the metropolis its nickname La Ciudad Blanca – The White City.
There is much to see and do in this part of the country and, if you do go ahead and book small group tours in this area, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.
You really must make time on your trip to visit the Plaza de Armas. The Plaza de Armas – the main square – is one of the most beautiful Peru has to offer, and it is home to some amazing buildings and lots of restaurants.
The cathedral here is one of the largest of its kind in the country and is on the north side, spanning the entire length of the plaza. Constructed in 1612, this twin-towered building was extensively rebuilt in the 19th century, after sustaining repeated damage from fire and earthquakes. Inside, you will find a stunning carved wooden pulpit and a Belgian organ.
If you’re looking for a few souvenirs of your trip, make your way behind the cathedral, where you will come across some charming handicraft shops.
You might also enjoy taking time out to visit the Santa Catalina Convent, which in 1970 was finally opened to the public after being used as a cloister for some 400 years. Nuns still live here, although in drastically reduced numbers – at one time there were around 500 to be found within the convent walls.
Once inside, you will find the convent is a town within a town, with fountains, narrow streets, arches, patios and gardens full of flowers.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Cloister of the Orange Trees, named thus after the miniature orchard that can be found there. There are three crosses in the middle of the courtyard, which form part of the monastery’s tradition that see the nuns enact the Passion of Christ each year on Good Friday.
If you prefer to be more active, then you might want to consider booking some walking tours while away. There is much to explore here and you could have fun by hiking around the Canon de Colca, one of the deepest canyons in the world.
It might be fun fitting the trip in over two days and camping overnight in the village of Chivay. Remember to bring your bathing costume so you can take a dip in the famed thermal springs that can be found on the outskirts of the township.
Visit La Cruz del Condor in the early morning and you will get a great view of the deepest section of the canyon – and perhaps even catch a glimpse or two of the Andean condor.
What’s more, you will see lots of Andean villages that line both sides of the gorge and will come across some amazing views of the Sabancaya volcano, which is one of the most active in the Americas.
If you’re keen to see more volcanoes during your holiday, you can strap on your hiking boots and make your way up El Misti Volcano, which represents a two or three-day walk.
This volcano towers over Arequipa and, although the walk can be hard work thanks to the thin air, it is definitely worth making the trek as there are some great views to be seen.
Should you want to find out more about the volcano before you head up the Cliffside, visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos in the city before you begin your ascent.
Another canyon worth exploring is Cotahuasi, which is even deeper than its nearby counterpart. This natural wonder is particularly remote so you should dedicate some time to travelling to see it. You might also prefer to organise a tour of the area with a guide, so you don’t get lost or run into any trouble.
With so many things to see and do in this part of Peru, it is well worth considering a tour that stops here for your next holiday.