August 26, 2009
More than 10.000 visitors filled the streets and squares of Peru’s second largest city Arequipa to celebrate the 469th Anniversary of its Spanish Foundation. Local authorities estimate some 65.000 domestic and 15.000 foreign visitors coming into Arequipa this month of August, a considerable increase over July’s figures, this year. Known also as the “Ciudad Blanca” (“White City”), Arequipa, located 1011 kilometers (some 634 miles), south of Lima is renowned for its colonial buildings, constructed with the locally quarried off-white “sillar” volcanic rock; its distinctive stonework on streets, homes, monasteries, facades, historic churches, monasteries and mansions. Centerpiece of the colonial quarters is the magnificent Plaza de Armas.
Arequipa is well equipped with tourism infrastructure, friendly people and delicious gastronomy with a preference for the spicy flavors. Lively at night and enjoying a remarkable sunny weather most of the year; the foundation’s festivities include colorful displays of dance, folklore, music, art, popular handicrafts, parades, cultural exhibits and events of all sorts, sufficient to attract large crowds of visitors, mainly from Peru’s southernly cities as well as from other regions of the country and foreign visitors, eager to experience a different and fascinatitng travel destination, not as highly publicized as Cusco, Macchu Pichu or Lima, yet rich in touring options and attractions.
Arequipa is also the natural gateway to the grand Colca Canyon, one of Peru’s most important and impressive natural regions and tourism attractions. Colca is naturally divided into two distinct segments: the first, between Chivay and Pinchollo, which is a wide, fertile and populated valley filled with sights of terraced cultures and picturesque Indian villages. Further downstream it becomes a narrow, steep-sided canyon with dramatic views.
Scenic tours by bus or other motorized vehicles as well as different lengths and degrees of difficulty treks are available to explore this remarkable canyon, especially around the Cabanconde area. This is for many a hidden treasure of Peru’s tourism inventory and well worth a visit, especially if planned and arranged by those with the best knowledge and experience around the country’s large and varied regions.