- Paracas, Ica and Nasca
- Cusco and Machu Picchu
- Arequipa and The Colca Valley & Canyon
- Puno and Lake Titicaca
- Iquitos and the Amazon River
- Tambopata and Puerto Maldonado
- Amazon Cruises
AREQUIPA AND THE COLCA VALLEY & CANYON
|Altitude:||2,335 m (7,661 ft) above sea level|
||9,682 sq km (3,738 sq mi)|
|Access Routes:||By land and air
|Climate:||Warm days and cool nights. Occasional rain between January and March (75º - 42ºF / 23º - 5ºC)|
Arequipa, also called the White City, is surrounded by a chain of snow-capped volcanoes, whose white lava has been used in the construction of the city. With striking colonial buildings such as the elegant Casa del Moral and the Casa Ricketts, Arequipa also contains the remarkable Convent of Santa Catalina located near the town's central plaza. This cloister was built in the 16th century by a local aristocrat and it remained closed from the rest of the world until recently. Traditionally the oldest daughters of Arequipa's aristocratic families entered the convent in their early teens and spent their lives there, cloistered away. The convent complex has been beautifully restored bringing the past vividly alive once more.
The town is also a good base for many interesting excursions, for example, to the Colca Valley, with its picturesque villages and well preserved Inca terracing and whose canyon is claimed to be even deeper than the Colorado Canyon.
THE COLCA VALLEY
|Altitude:||3,633 m (11,919 ft) above sea level (Chivay, capital of the province of Caylloma)|
|Area:||14,019 sq km (5,413 sq mi) Province of Caylloma|
|Population:||73,718 (2007) Province of Caylloma|
The Colca Canyon was first explored in 1931 by George Johnson and Robert Shippee, for the American Geographical Society.
The Colca River is more than 200 kilometers long and in places it has cut 3,400 meters into the earth, forming a canyon twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. People have lived here since humans first arrived in the Andes.
About 1,400 years ago, the Collaguas, who were Aymaras from Tiahuanaco, and the Cabanas, who were of Quechua origin, both pre-Incan people with an advanced level of agricultural development, carved out 8,000 hectares of terraces on the slopes of the canyon, in order to cultivate and control the irrigation. The terraces are used to this day.
There are 14 towns in the Colca Valley that were minutely planned down to the last detail in Spain and were built during the conquest. The Colca was opened to tourism in 1985, when new highways and the infrastructure built for the Majes irrigation project made access easier.