Visit the colonial city of Arequipa to see some of the most important colonial sites in Peru such as the Santa Catalina Convent. Later shop for fine alpaca and vicuna garments at a factory store producing the latest fabrics for the top European designers. Embark on a fascinating exploration of the ruggedly beautiful land around Arequipa and the Colca Canyon. Travel through the National Reserve Salines & Aguada Blanca surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes and see the elegant wild vicuna grazing the wide expanses of the "altiplanos" or high plains. Venture along the rim of the indescribable Colca Canyon, the deepest gorge in the world and home to the Cambanas and Collaguas indigenous communities and the Andean Condor. Witness the engineering genius of the pre-Incas in the form of irrigation canals and terraces still in use today. Spend two unforgettable nights at a small, secluded lodge nested near the canyon walls.
Transfer from the airport to your hotel. You will spend the rest of the morning relaxing and acclimatizing to the altitude. Arequipa is located in a beautiful valley at 7,200ft. on the foothills of the Andes mountains. From the city one can view the perfect cone shaped Misti volcano (17,500 feet) the Chachani mountain (18,288 feet) and Pichu-Pichu (17,010 feet).
In the afternoon, you will have a guided city tour. One of the most important Colonial sites in the city of Arequipa is the Santa Catalina Convent. This convent is one of the most impressive religious monuments in Peru. Founded in 1579 under the advocacy of Santa Catalina de Siena. It remained closed to the public until 1970. With a surface area of 20,426 square meters, it has kept intact the characteristics of the XVI and XVII centuries. Narrow streets, plazas and gardens with Spanish names that remind us of the ancient districts of Seville or Granada, appear successively throughout the visit. For four hundred years the Spanish noblemen of Arequipa sent their daughters and sisters here, to be locked away from the cares and temptations of the world. Although they took vows of poverty, the nuns lived in a sumptuous world of silk curtains and fine carpets, with personal maids who serve them with porcelain and silver. Overnight in hotel.
Early morning transfer from Arequipa to Colca Canyon. The Colca is one of the most culturally unique and geographically diverse areas in Peru. You will have the opportunity to interact with Quechua and Aymara people in their natural environment, living as they have for hundreds of years. This experience will be enhanced by the sheer beauty of the Colca region which is surrounded by high mountains, active volcanoes, diverse fauna and flora such as: wild vicunas, vizcachas, condors, hawks, falcons, three types of flamingos, puna ibis, giant coot and andean goose just to name few. The vegetation also is varied and includes: the nopal cactus providing the locals with the fruit called tuna; the cochineal red colorant used for their weavings; and the high altitude grass or "ichu", essential to the diet of the wild vicunas, domestic llamas and alpacas. Overnight in hotel.
Return to Arequipa. The road will go over a pass with an altitude of 15,888 feet. The scenery from this point is spectacular, with a full view of the Colca Valley and the high Andes. You will have a chance to visit the few people living in this harsh environment. At this altitude the main activity for these hardy people is the tending of the herds of llamas and alpacas. Peru is home to 70% of all the alpacas in the world and has three of the most prized fibers-llama, alpaca and vicuna. The alpaca fabrics produced in Arequipa are exported to the fashion centers in Milan and Paris where they are highly regarded for their quality. Overnight at hotel in Arequipa.
Transfer from hotel to airport for flight out.
NOTE: Journey requires moderate walking at high altitude (up to 15,888 feet). Travelers with health conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure should consult their physician before traveling.
For further information and booking inquiries, please contact Sacred Earth Travel.