The Department of Arequipa presents a varied geographical relief, from the coastal desert, rising into the Andes, and reaching great altitudes at the top of its snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, as well as spectacular depths, in the almost abyss-like Colca and Cotahuasi Canyons.
On the other hand, Arequipa, as a department and region, occupies the second position in the country, behind Lima, as far as productivity, economic strength and stability is concerned, as well as its capacity for autonomy, as a region, which its inhabitants have been claiming for quite a long time.
Known as The White City, due to the beautiful white walls of its colonial buildings and houses made of sillar, a white stone of volcanic origin, Arequipa lies in the foothills of the imposing Chachani and Misti Volcanoes, as well as in those of the snow-capped Mount Pichu Pichu. In the city´s Historical Center, declared as Humanity´s Cultural Patrimony by the UNESCO, in 2000, one can admire half-breed baroque style colonial churches and mansions, as well as Santa Catalina´s Convent which is a miniature Spanish city, with narrow stone-paved streets, beautiful patios and squares in bloom. Then, in Arequipa´s green countryside, Sabandía, Tiabaya, and Tingo are mandatory places to visit, while Arequipa´s irresistible gastronomy is the perfect complement to any stay in that wonderful region.
Situated just 3 hours and 45 minutes from The White City, the Colca Canyon and Valley are one of our country´s most extraordinary destinations. In that area, one can observe colorful pre-Incan benched terraces cultivated up to present days, with quinua, corn, barley, and wheat. In pre-Hispanic times, the territory currently occupied by the Department of Arequipa was inhabited by the ethnic groups called Collaguas and Cabanas who were great cultivators and masters in the handling of irrigation water. Today, the inhabitants of that fertile region have managed to conserve their ancient agricultural benched terraces, as well as colonial churches, such as those of Yanque, Lari, and Madrigal, meanwhile, many people still wear beautiful traditional clothes. In addition, in the Colca Valley, adventure sports are practiced, such as mountain biking, hiking, and rafting, and at the Condor´s Cross Vantage Point, visitors can appreciate and take pictures or film the condors´ majestic flight, as they sometimes pass quite close by.
Other places of interest in the Department of Arequipa, are the Petroglyphs of Toro Muerto (Dead Bull), the Andagua´s Volcano Valley and the Cotahuasi Canyon which is the deepest in the world.