A trip to Arequipa is perfect if you want to understand and fully appreciate Peruvian traditions and, at the same time, experience the nature and the adventurous character of this wonderful country.
Let’s start with the capital of the region. Arequipa is located in Southern Peru. Just outside the city, there’s a volcano, El Misti, which with its majestic 5,822 meters always keeps an eye on Arequipa. It’s part of the beautiful landscape of the city and consequently a symbol of it.
But what else defines the second most populated city in Peru? For starters, the gastronomy of this area is well appreciated all over the country. If you want to have an authentic gastronomic experience in Arequipa you have to go to one of the picanterías (typical Arequipa restaurants) of the city. These traditional restaurants are the best places to taste the typical dishes of the region: rocoto relleno, ocopa, solterito arequipeño y chicharrón de chancho, are some of the specialties you have to try. There are also several restaurants that combine the traditional cuisine with a more gourmet one.
Another peculiar feature that defines Arequipa is its colonial architecture. Here the casonas (typical colonial buildings), are well maintained or renewed to make restaurants, bars, hotels, clubs or coffee places. The material they are made of is what makes them so special: it’s a white volcanic stone, named sillar.
Arequipa is also a great place to go out. Its nightlife has a lot to offer: there are a couple of streets where you’ll definitely find the right club for you. Otherwise, if you just want to drink an ice cold Arequipeña (the beer of the region) or a couple of good chilcanos(Peruvian cocktail) there are plenty of bars, often old casonas, that will attend you until late in the night.
If you are in Arequipa you must visit the Colca Canyon, because it’s only 3 hours away from the capital of the region.
The first stop is Chivay and once you enter this small town you’ll have the feeling that you finally entered the authentic spirit of Peruvian villages. Here the time has stopped: you will notice some evidence of touristic presence (there are a few agencies organizing mini tours to visit the Canyon) but walking through the small streets of Chivay will make you feel incredibly good. Maybe because at 3,600 meters the air is not full of pollution, but is pure. Or maybe because here the children run, laugh and chase a ball instead of staring at television screens all day. The result is that you’ll completely forget the rhythm of the city and all of a sudden, your priority will be to look up and watch the beautiful sky full of stars.
In the main square of Chivay it’s easy to eat good traditional food, there’s the “highest Irish pub in the world” and also a delicious coffee place. After a coffee, a juice or an infusion you are now ready for an activity that will turn your trip into a Peru adventure holiday. You only have to go to La Calera (3,5 km from Chivay) until you’ll see people flying over the Colca river. That is the sign you reached your destination: the zip line! The great staff of colcaziplining.com will let you fly like a condor over the river: it’s the most amazing way to discover the second deepest canyon in the world.
If the zip line is too extreme you can rest in the natural hot springs and watch the beautiful environment surrounding you.
Another crucial part of this Peru itinerary is the Cruz del Condor. You’ll find this spot close to the small town of Cabanaconde. At this point, the canyon floor is 1,200 meters below the rim of the canyon. This is home to the Andean Condor and you will be able to see from a close range this majestic species, since they fly close to the canyon’s wall. You’ll enjoy the wait for the condors thanks to the relaxing and peaceful atmosphere and the breathtaking heights of the canyon.
Cabanaconde is really close to the Cruz del Condor and it’s also worth a visit. It has the rhythm and the sounds of a small town at 3,200 meters and it’s a good starting point of some beautiful treks of the Colca Canyon.
TIP: try not to sleep during the transfers between one town to another because the views from the road are spectacular.
This amazing Peru itinerary in the region of Arequipa is an experience that will involve all 5 senses and will leave you the feeling to have discovered maybe the most authentic of all of Peru´s destinations.