Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city and a bustling commercial town, is located in a valley at 2.360m above sea level, at the foothills of the active Misti, one of the three volcanoes which surround the city. Founded by the Spaniards as early as 1540, the city is built with white volcanic stone, has beautiful colonial architecture and a dry and temperate climate year round.
Arequipa and The Colca Canyon are two destinations that are generally visited together. It is however possible to visit Arequipa and not visit the Colca. Time constraints or difficulty with altitude could be two reasons not to visit the Colca, but we encourage you to do so. Arequipa is the perfect first stop in a Peru trip, as it provides gradual acclimatization to altitude. You can fly from Lima: 1 hour flight. You can drive from Lima via Nazca. This is also a popular approach.
Time in Arequipa is generally spent visiting Santa Catalina Convent, its lovely Main Square, the Jesuit Church of La Compania and the Museum displaying Inca mummies. One day is generally enough to visit the City. From Arequipa you can continue your trip through Southern Peru, there are flights here to Cuzco and Juliaca. Alternatively you can drive to the Colca and on to Puno and visit the Lake Titicaca area. The Colca Valley and Canyon constitute one of Peru's most dramatic and spectacular natural landscapes. Here, the Colca river considered by the latest National Geographic survey to be the source of the Amazon-- cuts a sensational scar through the mountains for more than 50 km, surrounded by a lost paradise of Spanish Villages, their churches battered by earthquakes and their tiny, dark women still dressed in voluminous Andean skirts and colorful hats