Today we will have a chance to enjoy the colonial architecture of Arequipa and then hop on an open air bus to embark on the Arequipa countryside tour. This tour takes us first to the Yanahuara lookout – offering a fantastic view of the city and the three volcanoes standing guard (el Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu). Next, we will stop at the Incan terraces at Paucarpata, the Sabandia Mill – which is an operational mill originally built in 1785. We will make a quick stop at the famous “Founder Masion,” which has been converted into a museum that display relics from Arequipa’s colonial era. Our last stop before returning you to your hotel or hostal is a visit to Santa Catalina Monastery. Built in 1580, it is one of the oldest colonial structures in the Arequipa region. Tonight, you will get the chance to visit Arequipa’s main square, enjoy local gastronomy and prepare yourself for tomorrow’s journey to the Colca Canyon.
After a delicious breakfast, we will pick you up from your hotel around 8:00 AM. We will board our bus, and begin our journey to the world’s deepest canyon. Along the way, we will make several stops to take in the beauty of the arid countryside. First, we will stop along the road to take in one last look at Arequipa’s giant volcanoes. Next, we stop will stop at Salinas and Aguada Blanca (Elevation of 4000 meters/13,000 feet,) where we will observe native birds and herds of alpacas and llamas roaming freely inside of a pristine nature preserve. Climbing sharply, we will reach the lookout point of Pata Pampa, where we will gaze out on the high plane at an altitude of 4910 meters/16,000 feet. Next we stop at the Mollepunku caves, which contain well-preserved prehistoric paintings and drawings. We will begin our descent into the canyon and stops at the small towns of Callalli, Sibayo and Tuti – all the while observing archaeological sites from the pre-Incan Colla civilization. We will arrive at the town of Chivay later in the evening where we will be spending the night. Our dinner will be accompanied by a local folk show featuring native dances of the Colca people. Participants will also have the chance to wind down at Calera Hot Springs right outside of town.
In the morning, we will head to one of most impressive destinations on our itinerary – the lookout points of “Cruz del Condor” and “Tapay.” From these lookouts, we can catch a glimpse of the majestic Condor in flight! The view of the steep canyon walls makes you really understand the significance of this extremely deep canyon. After catching a glimpse of the magnificent condor, we will head back towards Chivay where we will enjoy a quick lunch before continuing on. Along the way, we will stop at the quaint village of Yanque to visit the local cathedral and get snacks/use the bathroom before heading back to Arequipa. We will shuttle you directly to your hotel in the city.