Peru’s second largest city, Arequipa is well-known for its mostly Spanish and mestizo-based culture, and stunning architecture, excellent shopping, and delicious food make this beautiful city a popular tourist attraction.

Arequipa is surrounded by three impressive volcanoes, and the city derives its nickname of the “White City” from the volcanic rock that was incorporated into its many exquisite architectural achievements. A visit to the city’s exceptionally well-preserved historic center can be greatly enhanced by including tours of the stunning Santa Catalina Monastery, which is still home to twenty nuns, or the Jesuit architectural complex, a number of buildings connected by corridors and completed in the 17th century. The preserved colonial architecture of Arequipa provides an astoundingly beautiful backdrop for exploring this historic city and its surrounding region.

Just north of Arequipa, visitors will find the Colca Valley. Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world, and the river valley features some of the most magnificent natural scenery in Peru. Observe herds of vicuñas grazing in the valley, or delight in the various types of birds found in the region. This is one of the best locations to spot the Andean condor, the mighty symbol of the Andes, and a popular tourist stop in the canyon is the “Cruz del Condor”, where condors are easily spotted at close range.

There are few large settlements in the Colca Valley, but a series of small villages are spread out between the small town of Chivay and the village of Cabanaconde. The people living in the valley still make use of many of the agricultural terraces found along the canyon walls, which date to before the Incas conquered the area.

Take a closer look at the fascinating cultural and natural history of the Colca Canyon and Arequipa on your Ker & Downey journey, and let our travel experts help you customize your own unique itinerary.