Arequipa is famously named 'The White City' after the white volcanic rock known as sillar that was used as the primary building material giving Arequipa its distinctive architectural style. In the Añashuayco Valley, we’ll discover how the quarrymen extract and shape this important material from the towering sillar stone walls. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Culebrillas Canyon, a smaller and lesser-known quarry where local masons can be seen working the sillar alongside enigmatic petroglyphs dating from over 1000 years ago.
Explore the historical centre of Arequipa, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, guided by a local friend. We’ll start our walk with the alluring Plaza de Armas, one of the most enchanting main squares in Peru, before heading to the vibrant and colourful San Camilo market. Here, the stalls are piled high with everything you could possibly imagine, from tropical fruit and vegetables to straw hats and health potions. We’ll then make our way towards the quaint colonial cloisters of La Compañía, which are now home to many upmarket shops and cafes. Behind the white sillar courtyards hides Arequipa’s very own Sixtine chapel, the colonial art gem of San Ignacio’s Chapel. After refuelling with a ‘queso helado’, quick coffee or sweet treat, we’ll walk up to San Francisco Square before finally exploring the small but charming barrio of San Lázaro and its narrow, winding lanes.
With its centuries-old cathedrals and many archaeological museums, Arequipa is overfilled with history and culture. Some of the most popular sites to see in Arequipa are the Santa Catalina Monastery and the Santa Teresa Convent. The Santa Catalina Monastery is a spectacular religious citadel occupying one complete block and integrating architectural styles spanning 3 centuries. We’ll visit this ‘city-within-a-city’ which testifies the splendour of the Viceroyalty era in each alley, passageway, courtyard, cloister and garden. Afterwards, we’ll head over to the Santa Teresa Convent to admire its countless works of art in the chapels and art galleries. We’ll end our walk in the Cloisters of la Compañía with its ornate double courtyard and its breathtaking colourful chapel.
A full-day drive through the beautiful highlands of Arequipa. Most of the day is spent at altitude and on unpaved roads. We’ll ascend the sinuous road between Chachani and Misti, an almost 2000 m climb. In just over an hour, we’ll reach the National Salinas y Aguada Banca Reserve, where we’ll try to spot some wild guanacos on the lower slopes of Chachani or one of the many herds of wild vicuña. We’ll continue our trip to the beautiful stone forest of Imata with its rock formations carved out by the wind. There we’ll stop for a picnic lunch and explore the Imata waterfall nearby. After a hearty lunch, we’ll visit a family of alpaca and llama herders, who will tell you about their way of life and their precious animals. To end the day, we’ll get a glimpse of the Ubinas volcano, which has been quite active recently, and arrive at Salinas. This high-altitude lagoon fills up in the wet season attracting hordes of flamingos looking to grab a bite. In the dry season, the lagoon dries up and turns into a salt flat, like a mini-Uyuni. We’ll return via Pichu Pichu and descend the winding road as the sun sets behind the city.
An all-day scenic discovery drive across the high-altitude plains to our Titilaka Lodge. After an early-morning departure, we’ll drive past volcanoes and begin our ascension towards the highlands and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve. Here we’ll spot herds of wild vicuñas, the smallest species of the South American camelid family. Along the way, we’ll stop at a stone forest where wind and erosion have sculpted the rocks into strange formations over time. As we leave the region of Arequipa, some small lakes will appear as well as flamingos - if we are lucky. We’ll stop for a scenic picnic lunch before continuing on the Altiplano, passing through the city of Puno, and then finally arriving at the Titilaka Lodge on the shores of Lake Titicaca.