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Peru Travel: Arequipa and the Grand Colca Canyon of South America

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Peru Travel: Arequipa and the Grand Colca Canyon of South America Author: Jonathan Hudson

Arequipa is a colonial gem located in the south of Peru. Being Peru's second city, it was initially an isolated town until the construction of a railway connecting it with the world and fueling industrial development. In close proximity to the town are the great sights of Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world.

Arequipa's Volcano
Peru is located relatively close to the equator and so is less variable to climatic change throughout the year and Arequipa, being located 7,808 feet (2380 meters) above the ground, gives the city all year round spring like weather.  Arequipa itself sits in a fertile green valley and is graced by an overarching volcano, El Misti, that has provided many of the materials used to build the city. The city is known as the ‘white city' due to the fact that many of the buildings were constructed using the light colored stone called sillar from the volcano.

Arequipa's Colonial Sights
The city's colonial heart is around Plaza de Armas, a beautiful green filled square with flower beds, palm trees and benches for people watching. All of the city's famous colonial buildings are in walking distance from here. You can take guided open top bus tours from here. From the plaza you can see the great natural wonders that surround the city. Other sites include the Santuarios Andinos Museum, which holds the remains of mummies including the well-preserved "Juanita", and the wondrous Santa Catalina Monastery, which once catered to the daughters of the wealthy, who were permitted to live lavish lifestyles after they entered this nunnery. The convent was closed to visitors until 1970's.

Santuarios Andinos Museum
Santa Catalina 210 
, Peru

Santa Catalina Monastery
Santa Catalina 301
, Peru
(54) 229 798

Inca and Pre-Inca Attractions
The region is home to a number of pre-Inca and Incas sites and attractions. Many first time visitors to Peru have heard of the Incas, but the whole Andean region was home to a number of similarly spectacular cultures and societies such as the Huari, Tiahuanuco, Chancay from before the reign of the Inca Empire. Arequipa's Catholic University Archaeology Museum is home to a number of artifacts, textiles and ceramics that have been recovered from the region.

Colca Canyon
Not far from Arequipa one can take a tour of the Colca Canyon, which is considered by scientists to be 10,470 feet (3,191 meters) making it twice the depth of the grand canyon in the USA. It is a truly majestic sight. The fact that it is off the beaten path and the area's remoteness, has kept many of the traditional Andean villages intact with local women still wearing traditional dress. Tours are available for a day, but increasingly adventure travelers tour the area for longer and sometimes camp out in the canyon to make the most of the experience.

Andean Condor
While exploring the Colca Canyon you may be graced by the opportunity to see the majestic Andean Condor- whose wingspan measures up to 18 feet. A good tour would pass by the Crus del Condor on the Canyons south west rim. The best time to see the condors is early morning – about 9am in the dry months of the regions (from May to December).

About the Author

This guide to Arequipa and Peru vacations was written by a Peru travel expert at Peru For Less, specialists in high value, fully customizable tours and packages.

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