Standing majestically at the foothills of the Misti Volcano, Arequipa’s beautiful Spanısh Colonial buildings hark back to the depth of its foundation, by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Guided tour of Arequipa, La Ciudad Blanca, the White Volcanic City, will amaze and entrance you on arrival.
Often overlooked Peru’s Stunning second city was formerly occupied by firstly the Aymara Indians then conquered by the Incas, and each has left a lasting influence at every turn. This popular tourist destination has many valuable archaeological and cultural artefacts telling the story of its chequered past. Now seat of the Constitutional Court of Peru and Peru's second largest populous city it gained in 1821 it was freed from Spain, and then it was declared the Capital.
However, the Spanish influence is still very much in evidence all over the city in its magnificent buildings and beautiful parks. Its countless elegant buildings constructed of sillar, a white volcanic rock, give it an ethereal appearance and gives its nickname as "La Ciudad Blanca" or White City. Read More...
Exciting Cultural Private tour of the Peru’s wonderous ‘White City’
Often unfairly overlooked by travellers Peru's second largest city offers an insight into the time before the infamous Incas arrived. Take a private cultural tour of Arequipa to see some of the fantastic sites for yourself.
Juanita, the now famous ice girl, sacrificed to the mountain gods
Get a pure adrenalin rush on a white knuckle experience white water rafting
Learn how the Alpaca become famous for its wool and how the clothing is made
Gustav Eiffel's stunning iron bridge across the Chili River take a private cultural tour to see this true masterpiece
Go Volcano climbing, not for the faint hearted but a truly exhilarating experience or an Exciting Cultural Private tour of the Peru’s wonderous ‘White City'!
For something completely different and a bit spooky, there is something very mysterious about Machu Picchu, not only because of how it was built but by its design and the way it is placed on astronomical alignments.
Some ancient historians believe that there were extraterrestrial influences in the building of it due to the advanced architecture!
Top 10 Things to Do in
Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena
Visiting Arequipa on a sightseeing tour, we came across the Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena which was constructed as a Dominican Nun cloister between 16th and 18th centuries and still houses a religious community although small. Built from sillar a volcanic stone it was sad to see that the air pollution had severely damaged this porous stone but of special interest to us were the fantastic sculptures and paintings of the complex.
Chachani Volcano Climbing
While we weren't sure about getting too near a semi-active volcano, the sheer thrill factor was enough to change our minds. Our private tour started from the hotel at midnight, was strange but essential for the 3-hour journey to the base. The ascent was hard, even for the professionals amongst us and some didn’t make the whole journey but so worth the effort, definitely, for the panorama view, the pure adrenalin rush and the sunrise!
San Camilo Market
Not to be missed is the main local farmers market at Mercado San Camilo selling anything from meat, bread and fresh fruit and vegetables. An array of colour and aroma, along, with the cries of the many vendors greeted us on entry and we were able to pick up some amazing fresh produce. We also had breakfast at one of the cafes on the top level where we were joined by local policeman and security guards amongst others.
Alpaca Jumpers in Mundo Alpaca
For anyone wanting to see the process from animal to a garment, this working museum shows the traditional weaving methods from the fibre sorting to the loom. On a private tour, we got to see the Alpaca and Lama in their natural surroundings and learn of the special relationship they have with the country's rich textile culture. We also learned that there is a real difference between the two animals something none of us had known.
Local legend says The Colca Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world and we certainly thought it could be when we went on our guided tour. Some of the sides were that steep that it was impossible for us to see the valley at the bottom. More interesting were the terraces giving superb examples of pre-Inca farming styles and the Andean peasants dressed in traditional garments still herding their Llamas in their long-established method
Museum of Andean Sanctuaries
The main reason for our private tour of this small museum was, of course, to see its most famous attraction, Juanita the young Inca girl found in near perfect condition frozen at the top of a volcano in 1995. Her death was a sacrificial killing to the mountain gods and buried with much finery; it was difficult not to be moved at the sight of her and the other ice mummies on display here and found in and around the same area.
Our Private tour took us 20 minutes outside the town to Sabandia Mill operational since 1621 and home to the famous Arequipa fighting bull. Its towering white walls built of a volcanic stone tower over the rustic gates and balconies of the Mill adding to its character and the gardens were full of cacti. Millstones powered by a torrent of gushing water still in use today added to the sense of authenticity.
Puente Fierro Bridge
As this iron bridge was designed by the great Gustav Eiffel himself, a guided tour of here, was a definite before we left. Still in service today, this architectural masterpiece built in 1882 as a viaduct over the Chili River took the trains from town to Cusco. At 488m long, it was once the longest bridge in the world and is still at number 7 even today. We took lots of photographs of volcanoes and of the city from here too.
When we heard the main ingredient of each dish is the humble potato we knew we had to give this tiny restaurant a try. There are only four tables in this restaurant and is famous in Arequipa, due to its use of potatoes, which is believed originated from here and of which Peru has over 4,00 varieties. We tasted some delicious foods, and the chef certainly had some imaginative ideas for recipes and sauces.
White Water Rafting
A few of our more adventurous party took a private tour to do white water rafting along the Chili River. At the start of the journey, we managed to see the beauty of the canyon before the current picked up and we picked up some speed meaning we had no time for sightseeing. After hitting several boulders and getting thoroughly drenched, we gained control and the rest of the trip was the most amazing experience ever.
Travel Tips for Arequipa
Best Time To Visit
We found the best time to visit on a guided tour was the winter season running from May to September when the weather conditions were still warm and pleasant, and it is not so busy. We had warm sunny, clear days but were surprised that the nights were quite chilly, so we actually needed a coat. We had heard that November to April was the wet season, but the temperatures can get as high as the upper 80s. You will enjoy this country whatever the weather !
Our hotel was in the mid range and was a reasonable price at 60 PEN per night there are of course cheaper and more expensive options depending on your requirements. Food is the same, and we found the cafes where the locals eat to be delicious and inexpensive, but we did also visit some of the more expensive restaurants too which were around 50 PEN per person. Transport by bus costs pennies. Prebook tours whenever possible and save a fortune.
Know Before Visiting
Probably the most important things to remember here are the low air pressure, and the diuretic effects it has on you and the humidity. Keep hydrated with bottled water and don't forget to keep as covered as possible. On a private cultural tour, the sun's UV rays can still be strong even at this altitude so don’t underestimate its power. Try not to eat from street vendors unless you see the food cooked freshly in front of you.
Winter season between May and September are the best times to visit as the weather is still warm and pleasant and there are not many crowds around. It is at night however quite chilly, and you will definitely need some sort of jacket. The rainy time is always between November and April in the high season with temperatures in the 90s, and it can become scorching and muggy especially before a storm. These are normally short lived, and the sun comes out again