Attractions Nearby Arequipa, Day Trips and Excursions
The Canyon Country surrounding Arequipa is full of attractions and surprises, with popular excursions including rafting within the Majes Canyon, exploring the fascinating site of Toro Muerto and its petroglyphs, and soaking up the views around the Valley of the Volcanoes (El Valle de los Volcanes), the Colca Canyon (Canon del Colca) and the Cotahuasi Canyon (Canon del Cotahuasi). All of these attractions and more are close to Arequipa and perfect for day trips.
The vast salt lake known as the Laguna de Salinas is another attraction nearby and is sited directly to the east of Arequipa, standing around 4,300 metres / 14,100 feet above sea level, below both the El Misti volcano
and Picchu Picchu. Also nearby are the cities of Juliaca
and Puno, which lie next to the beautiful Lake Titicaca.
Canon del Colca (Colca Canyon)
The Canon del Colca lies on the north-western side of Arequipa, where is stretches for some 100 km / 62 miles and stands amongst some very eye-catching volcanoes, such as both the Ampato and the Coropuna. At more than 3,000 metres / 9,840 feet deep, the Canon del Colca is amongst the world's deepest canyons and offers an array of attractions, although it is likely that you will need to take a number of day trips to see the main sights. These include the towns and villages of Chivay (the capital of the Caylloma province), Cabanaconde, Corporaque, Cruz del Condor, Madrigal, Pinchollo and Yanque.
Canon del Cotahuasi (Cotahuasi Canyon)
Located around 200 km / 124 miles from Arequipa, the Canon del Cotahuasi is often somewhat overshadowed by the Canon del Colca, although this remote canyon is also of similar epic proportions. This very fertile valley boasts some magnificent countryside scenery and plenty of trekking attractions. The Canon del Cotahuasi is also home to a number of very small hamlets, which rarely see the likes of tourists and can be very interesting to explore if you are feeling adventurous.
El Valle de los Volcanes (Valley of the Volcanoes)
The wide and appealing valley known as the El Valle de los Volcanes is to be found directly to the west of the Canon del Colca and lies at the very base of the Nevado Coropuna mountain. All over the floor of the El Valle de los Volcanes are the remains of historical lava flows and cinder cones, with the last volcanic activity believed to have been as recent as just two or three thousand years ago. The lava flows have created many naturally attractions, such as the lake named the Laguna de Chachas, which was formed when the lava damned part of the Challahuire River. Within easy reach of Arequipa, El Valle de los Volcanes stretches for around 65 km / 40 miles and surrounds the charming village of Andagua.
Juliaca / Puno / Lake Titicaca
Both Juliaca and Puno stand to the north-east of Arequipa and alongside the world-famous Lake Titicaca
. Juliaca is a busy city with a population of around 200,000 people and is surrounded by some very attractive traditional villages. The port city of Puno may be smaller, with a population of just over 100,000 people, but does have much tourist appeal, since it is the ideal place to take boat trips around Lake Titicaca and explore its wonderful islands, such as the Isla Taquile and the raft-like Islas Flotantes (Floating Islands).
Laguna de Salinas
The Laguna de Salinas is actually a salt lake and during the dry season, between June and December, the lake is transformed into a white salt flat. Rainfall always dictates the overall size of the lake, and when full, many Andean water birds flock here, including flamingos. Recreational attractions include mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and camping.
Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca (Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve)
A very impressive national reserve situated just a short distance to the north-east of Arequipa and within the Moquegua region, the Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca is close to Chachani and covers a staggering 3,670 square kilometres / 1,417 square miles. Whilst domesticated alpacas and lamas are popular attractions within the reserve, if you keep your eyes peeled, you may be able to spot the related guanacos and vicunas, which are completely wild here. Between January and April, sightings of flamingos become commonplace.
Toro Muerto Petroglyphs
This glorious archaeological sites stands within the high desert, where it is comprised of huge quantities of black volcanic boulders. Each of these boulders is adorned with detailed and stylised carvings, which depict animals, birds and also people. The overall site of these carvings is quite overwhelming and it is thought that they date back more than 1,000 years, to the Wari civilisation. From Arequipa, regular buses link the town of Corire, which is close to Toro Muerto Petroglyphs and can be reached in just under three hours. Buses start as early as 04:00, if you fancy an early start.