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Arequipa

 

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LOCATION
ltitude
Distance

Population
2,230 meters a.s.l.
1,020 km. from Lima.
180 km. from Colca Valle. 400 km. from Tacna.
619,156 inhabitants (city).

GETTING THERE

A branch the South Pan-American road leads up from the coast to Arequipa connecting it with Lima and Tacna. There are 1,020 krn (632 miles) between Arequipa and Lima and 400 km (248 miles) between Arequipa and Tacna.

arequipa_convento By air, there are daily 1 -hour flights from Lima to Arequipa, 30-minute flights from Cusco, and 20-minute flights from Tacna or Juliaca.
The trip from Puno to Arequipa by the South Railroad takes 10 hours, leaving on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Arequipa is the capital of the Province, Department and Region of the same name. It is located at Z230 meters (7,314 feet) a.s.l. it is the second largest city of Peru. One of Its main attractions is the fact that Arequipa has probably the nicest weather of Peru with an average of 300 sunny days a year. The city keeps its ancient architectural treasures, but also shows a modern side with many luxurious hotels and casinos. Arequipa gives tourists the opportunity to spend a pleasant time in the city and its outskirts. It is also the departing point for wider circuits.
Once in the city, the Plaza de Armas, the 'La Compañia de Jesus' church, which has cloisters with ashlar (volcanic white stone or 'sillar") arcades, and the renowned Santa Catalina Convent should not be missed. On the outskirts of: the city some districts stand out because of their beauty, like Cayma, which temple was built in 1730, or Yanahuara, which belvedere offers a great view of the city surrounded by volcanoes, such as Cachani, 1,076 meters (3,529 feet) a.s.l.
Also important are the Yura Chapel, the San Lazaro quarter the Sabandía Mill and the Añazhuayco quarries, from where the ashlar ('sillar') is extracted. Arequipa is known as 'La Ciudad Blanca" (White City) because of the color of its ashlar buildings.
arequipa_plaza

MEJIA LAGOONS

The Mejia Lagoons National Sanctuary is located on the coast of Arequipa, near the mouth of the Tambo river, 20 km (12.4 miles) south of the port of Mollendo and 150 krn (93 miles) from the city.

arequipa It is an isolated ecosystem and the only vestige, between the north of Chile and Pisco, of the ancient flooded lands that were part of the American coast, drained for agriculture for centuries. In spite of being located at sea level and 170 S latitude, the annual average temperature in the Mejía Lagoons is usually 18º C (64.40 F), under the effect of the Peruvian (Humboldt) warm stream.
The lagoons are separated from the ocean by a large fringe of beaches and sandy pits. Within the protected area (690 hectares/1,704 acres), several habitats are grouped, including lagoons of different degrees of salinity, salt marsh, reed patches, salt mines and wild grass that form a complex ecosystem. This particularly valuable scenario homes 157 bird species, of which 72 are residents, 62 are regular visitors and 24 sporadic visitors.
Conservationist and investigation efforts are being made today to entirely preserve this natural treasure.

AGUADA BLANCA AND SALINAS

Behind the Misti volcano, as seen from the city, over an extensive plain at 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) a.s.l. is the Aguada Blanca dam, declared a National Reserve. It is a rather shallow and artificial lake originated by the Blanco river containment. A little to the south, behind the Pichu Pichu peak, is an even larger lagoon called Salinas. These lagoons are a place for resting and nesting for a large population of birds like the colorful flamingos. There is a strong migratory relationship between these birds and the ones from Mejía, 180 km (111.6 miles) from Salinas.

PAMPA CAÑAHUAS

Located at the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, behind the Chachani peak. At about 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) a.s.I. this larger plain represents one of the best habitats for the protection of vicuñas. a Peruvian camelid, internationally known for its fine fleece. In Pampa Cañahuas, these animals can be seen running completely free and, therefore, without the shyness and apathy that seems to characterize them under captivity.

 

THE COLCA VALLEY

To the north of Arequipa is the higher course of the Colca river valley which deep canyon is renowned among rafters. The section previous to the canyon consists of an encased valley that runs from east to west, beginning in the cold puna and running down to warmer regions, showing its great scenic beauty and cultural attractiveness.

COLCAS

One of the survival skills of the ancient Colca people was the ability to store large amounts of grain for hard times the warehouses, known as 'colcas', gave name to the valley. In the 'cool' caves of Pumunuta, it is possible to see circular colcas a meter (3.28 feet) in diameter, mad of mud and straw.

condor CRUZ DEL CONDOR
Usually, in such a deep valley, the rising winds are surprisingly strong which big condors take advantage of to soar into the sky easily.
Between Maca and Cabanaconde, where winds are even stronger, is the Cruz del Condor, an observation point, perfect for watching the condors while they fly majestically.

RAFTING ALONG THE COLCA-MAJES RIVER

From December to March, expert and trained rafters can go along the high and middle section of the river, explored by the 1979 Polish expeditions. It includes very difficult and isolated rapids, as the towns are far from the torrent. Although the low section may be ran over in rubber rafts, only expert people, trained in kayac rafting can do it in the canyon sections.

The name of the Colca river changes as it flows down to the Pacific ocean, Past the canyon; its name is Majes. Here, there are more chances for tourists to go in rubber rafts. The chances of finding shelters and access ways are better. Although its navigable section (Andamayo-Aplao river) does not have long rapids, the beauty of landscape and the clean river course allows enjoying the comfortable trip. The area is open year round to visitors.

ETHNIC RICHNESS

An ethnic group, bearer of ancient and still strong traditions, has dwelled the valley for more than 2,000 years. They are the Collaguas who arrived to the Colca valley from the high regions and seem to be descendants of the Aymaras because of their language and customs. Even under the Inca dominion, they kept themselves relatively Independent, and preserved their own traditions. It is sold that the supreme Inca Mayta Capac married a Collagua princess in order to formalize the conquest of the valley, and he built for her an elegant country house made of copper, near Sibayo.

PETROGLYPS

The early settlers of the valley left their own peculiar trace in petroglyphs such as Sumbay and Toro Muerto. Dancers with bizarre headdresses, different mammals, condors, and lines of unbreakable codes encompass the repertory of vast figures.

CHURCHES

There are almost 20 towns along the valley, which people preserve the ethnic richness of their past more than any other region of the country. The main ones are Chivay, Cabanaconde, Huambo, Maca, Achoma, Yunque, Larl and Coporaque, all very religious towns, whose Catholic faith also keeps alive pre-Columbian elements. Each town has its own church, bearer of its Hispanic and an example of architectural sobriety and purity based on the ashlar stone.

VALLEY OF THE VOLCANOES

Entering the -so called- 'Valley of the Volcanoes" of Andagua means going back several geological eras to witness some outstanding phenomena that only happen in two places In the world: the Canary Islands and In this Arequipa valley.

The Andagua river valley runs along the foothill of the great Coropuna volcano, the highest in Peru and the tenth highest in South America. Geothermal activity In this area has given birth to about 80 volcanoes, all of them extinct which give this area a moonlike aspect. Later, the Andagua river disappears in a 17 km (10.5 miles) stretch, running under the ground between the Chachas and the Mamacocho lagoons before flowing into the Colca. Andagua can be reached only by highway from the west. Volcán Misti

HOT SPRINGS

Because of the volcanic nature of the region, there is hot springs in different areas of the valley. The main ones are Yunque, Chivay, Callalli, La Calera, Huancarama, Yura and Jesus. Furthermore, these hot springs are frequently related to 'puquiales", natural sources of cold, extremely pure and 100% potable water.

Spectacular airplane flights are available allowing a unique and extraordinary view of the main attractions of Colca, that can only be seen from the air. There are landing strips in Huambo (in the canyon), Orcopampa (near the Volcano Valley), Coporaque (the high part of the valley), Tiabaya, near Arequipa and also from the city airport.



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