What does Arequipa mean? "Arequipa" means "Ari qipay" (Yes, stay). Arequipa is the second most important city in Peru one of the most welcoming cities that you can't miss when you come to Peru. Arequipa is on the south of the country on a fertile Valley and on the shade of the Misti Volcano, which is the emblem of the city. Arequipa was founded in 1540 by the governor Don Franci Manuel de Carvajal. This city is full of history and has one the most beautiful main squares of the country and many beautiful monuments of baroque, neo-classic and renaissance styles. Arequipa is known as the "Ciudad Blanca" (white city), due to the color of the volcanic rock sillar, used in the construction of churches and colonial houses. Recently UNESCO declared the city as Mankind's Historical Monument. Arequipa is a clear blue-sky city where many poets and important political people have been born.
Location: 1003 km. south of Lima
Arequipa altitude: 2335 masl
Important Cities: Mollendo, Camana, Chival
Archaeological findings reveal that a millennium prior to the Inca civilization's emergence, the Arequipa region was inhabited by indigenous Aymara groups. According to oral traditions, the settlement bore a name signifying "summit behind the peak," a nod to the Misti Volcano. In the Aymara language, "ari" translates to "summit," while "quipa" denotes "lying behind."
In approximately 1300 AD, Mayta Capac, the fourth Sapa Inca, and his retinue journeyed from the kingdom of Cuzco to Arequipa. Legend holds that the name Arequipa originated when the Inca ruler, captivated by the verdant valley guarded by majestic mountain peaks, exclaimed, "ari, quepay," which in Quechua translates to "yes, let us stay."
Arequipa's Plaza de Armas, adorned with a fountain, buildings, and palm trees, comes alive at night, making it a sought-after destination in the 'white city.'
Following the arrival of European conquistadors in Peru and the military downfall of the Inca Empire in Cusco, Spanish settler Garcí Manuel de Carbajal re-established the city in 1540. This pivotal event is celebrated with grandeur during the August Fiestas de Arequipa, drawing visitors from various corners of Peru.
During the 16th to 18th centuries, amid Spanish colonial governance, Arequipa thrived as a pivotal hub for the silver trade. The city's architectural identity began to crystallize during this period, with the prevalent use of white sillar stone, abundant in the Arequipa region, in the construction of grand residences for landowners, exquisite churches, and expansive convent complexes such as Santa Catalina.
In Arequipa, summers are short, pleasant, arid and partly cloudy, and winters are short, cool, dry and cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature usually ranges from 9 C to 23 C and rarely falls below 7C or rises to more than 25*C. It is considered that the best time of year to visit Arequipa Peru is from early April to early December.
The Stuffed Hot Peppers (baked hot peppers with mincemeat, spices, cheese, eggs and milk), Locro (with potatoes and stewed meat), marinade (thickened spicy pork), Spicy Shrimp, Spicy Lacayote, the golden Malay and the Guinea Pig. Traditionally, in Arequipa the food starts with the corn liquor, lighter and sweeter than others made in the Peruvian south, and is the one that will accompany us during our menu.
Start with a succulent shrimp suck, followed by the flag dish of the Arequipa kitchen: the Stuffed Hot Peppers. As the main course, the guinea pig will fulfill the expectations of every gourmet. Before proceeding, it will not hurt, and anise Nájar, as a digestive.
Among the desserts, buñuelos (flour, eggs and milk bathed in chancaca honey), frozen cheese (ice cream based on milk, cinnamon, coconut, and spices), chocolates and toffees, we leave it to your choice.
The Cathedral is on the Main Square and has two magnificent towers. It is one of the most beautiful places in Arequipa Peru, so if you plan to visit this amazing city you should not stop walking around here.
In the nearby streets, is the Santa Catalina Monastery, a wonderful work of art in convent construction. This cloister housed many young female nobles and was kept closed for more than 400 years until 1970 when it was opened to visitors. The most outstanding religious complexes are La Compañia and San Francisco. The first was the home of the Jesuits in the 17th Century.
San Francisco has a church, a convent, a small temple and a handicraft fair called Fundo El Fierro. In the outskirts of the city is the Mansion del Fundador (a colonial house), and also La Compañia.
The sillar is the origin of the architecture of the White City and its tourist route is developed in the district of Cerro Colorado. In addition to the natural sceneries of the zone, you can observe the process of extraction, carving of the ashlar. The Sillar route has the necessary infrastructure and tourist services such as interpretation workshops, with the presence of stone cutters and information panel areas.
This tour is known as the Campiña Arequipeña, it includes the visit to the most beautiful architectural monuments and natural viewpoints that surround the "white city". The tour begins with a visit to the Mirador de Sachaca, which will offer us a beautiful natural view of Arequipa and its volcanoes. As well as the viewpoint of Carmen Alto, Molino de Sabandia and the Mansion of Founder.
From Arequipa, take the Panamericana Sur highway in the western direction of the city until you reach the Interoceanic highway and continue until Mollendo passing through the port of Matarani. The distance is 126 km, it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes in an interprovincial bus and 2 hours in particular mobility. Then continue in the south direction of Mollendo for 20 km more until you reach the National Sanctuary of Mejía Lagoons. In particular mobility, the delay takes 30 min. The whole route is paved.
Other very important places are the Colca and the Cotahuasi Cayons, 151 km from Arequipa to Chivay (3 hours by car and 3 hours and 30 minutes by public bus). 42 km from Chivay to the Mirador de la Cruz del Cóndor (1 hour and 30 minutes in private mobility).
From Arequipa the distance is 173 km on a paved road and it takes 3 hours on an interprovincial bus and 3 hours on private mobility.
The main attraction of Mollendo and the entire Province of Islay are its long and attractive beaches. The beaches start from the Water Park next to Ponce Island and from there comes an almost uninterrupted succession of wide and peaceful beaches of fine sand of 35 km of beaches to the south, until reaching the border with the Department of Moquegua.
The trip to the Colca Canyon can be done independently and in an organized way through a travel agency. But for travelers who are encouraged to go on their own, the first thing is to be in the city of Arequipa, then go to the Terrestrial Terminal of Arequipa, where you must take the buses to Chivay and / or Cabanaconde, these two main locations of the valley that depart from the Terrestrial Terminal of Arequipa from 01:00 hours to 16:00 hours. The journey takes approximately 3 hours of travel. The trip from Arequipa to Chivay, starts leaving behind the city of Arequipa, going through "cone Nort" and Yura, then towards Pampa de Arrieros, from where you can see the impressive volcanoes Sabancaya, Misti, and Chachani, and places along of the journey.
During the first hour of the trip, you will take us on a paved road with a single track, where you have to drive very carefully and climb from Arequipa to 4,000 meters above sea level to enter the vast plain of Pampa Cañahuas, located on the National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca. Pampa Cañahuas located behind the snowy Chachani, at more than 4000 meters above sea level.
This area is the preferred habitat for the protection of the vicuña, of the family of camelids, known internationally for the fineness of its wool. In this area, it is possible to observe vicuñas in their natural state. The route continues, through a second plateau, a little higher than the previous one, where rock formations and vast landscapes are plagued by alpaca ranches scattered amidst poor pastures and immense mountains. Continuing the route, it is worth stopping at the Mirador de los Volcanes (Patapampa), at 4800 masl it is the highest point of the route, from where you can see the volcanic mountain range with its Misti and Chachani volcanoes and the Chila mountain range, which covers the volcanoes Ampato, Sabancaya, Hualca Hualca and Mismi that make up the chain of the western Andes of southern Peru, a fascinating place with breathtaking views. From there everything is downhill. It descends from 4,850 m. up to 3,639 m. In a descent where you begin to discover the Colca Valley, with its villages, arriving in Chivay first and Coporaque later, forming part of a unique landscape. The journey from the city of Arequipa ends in Chivay, after 3 hours of travel, where most of the travelers stay, in Chivay you will find most hotels and lodges, where you can also enjoy the thermal baths that is the outskirts of Chivay. Table of distance to get to the city of Arequipa, and be able to visit the Colca Canyon.
That depends on whether you plan on exploring the region beyond the city. For travelers content to enjoy the pleasures of the city, three to five days should be sufficient. If you plan on climbing Misti, visiting the Salinas y Aguada Blanca reserve, or trekking in the Colca Canyon, five to ten days would be about right, depending on how many forays you plan on making outside the city.
There are trips by direct plane from Arequipa to Cusco, the total distance by plane is 323 km, and it takes 24 minutes (800 km/h) long to fly.