You will only need one look around, marveling at the beautiful white churches and colonial mansions to the white hills and volcanoes, to understand the reason why Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru, is known as the ?White City?. The buildings, made of a white volcanic stone known as sillar, give Arequipa its distinct and wondrous look.
Blessed with a spring-like climate and nearly 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, Arequipa is an ideal place to enjoy your time outside, with a leisurely walk through the streets, admiring the beautiful architecture, basking in the sun on a bench in one of its many palm tree filled plazas. You may also enjoy one of the miradores, or lookouts, in the city where you can enjoy the views of the lush green valley below, where the Chili River flows beneath the majestic three volcanoes, Misti, Chanchani and Pichupichu, providing an incredible panoramic view.
AREQUIPA GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
Situated approximately 630 miles (1115km) to the southeast of Lima, Arequipa is situated at the western foothills of the Andes, bordered to the east by the coastal, desert region. With an altitude of 2,335 meters above sea level (7,660 feet), Arequipa is the perfect spot to acclimatize before heading to the higher altitudes of Cusco or Puno.
The three majestic, snow-capped volcanoes present around Arequipa are Mistiat at 5,825m (19,110ft), Chachani at 6,070m (19,914ft) and PichuPichuat 5,425m (17,798ft). Principle Rivers in the region are the Ocoña, Yauca, Camaná and Quilca (or Chili).
Arequipa?s year round pleasant climate is legendary. A city of eternal spring-like temperatures; during the day the temperature rarely falls below 68°F/20°C. However, the temperatures can fall drastically at night, especially in the winter months of June, July and August, when temperatures fall to around 50°F/10°C. When packing for Arequipa, it?s best to think in layers.
As for rainfall, the summer months of January, February and March see the most rainfall, though it rarely amounts to more than one and a half inches per month.
Aeropuerto Internacional Rodríguez Ballón is located in the district of Cerro Colorado, about 4 miles (7km) northwest of the city. The airport has daily domestic connections to Lima, Cuzco and Juliaca. Airlines servicing the airport are LanPeru, Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines. A taxi from the airport to downtown hotels costs around S/.15 (or $5), while a shared colectivo service costs approximately S/.6 ($2) per person.
The bus terminal of Arequipa, Terminal Terrestre, is located on Avenida Andres Avelina Caceres, about 2.5 miles (4km) south of downtown Arequipa. Buses here travel within Peru only, such as Cusco (10 hrs) and Puno (6 hrs), as well as coastal cities like Ica (14 hrs) and Lima (17 hrs).
Terrapuerto Internacional Arequipa, located on Avenida Arturo Ibáñez, is nearby Terminal Terrestre. From here you can travel not only within the country, but also to Santiago de Chile, La Paz and Buenos Aires, among other destinations.
The Cathedral: The construction of this church began in 1544, predominantly in the neoclassic style, with three naves, enormous columns, a great Belgian organ and a French neo-gothic pulpit. It was gutted by fire in 1844, it was then rebuilt and damaged again by the 1868 earthquake. Most of what you see today is what has been rebuilt. It has splendid treasures of gold and silverwork, such as two monstrances of gold and precious stones. The interior is simple and airy, with a luminous quality, and the high vaults are uncluttered. It also has an international flair since both the altar and the 12 columns (symbolizing the 12 Apostles) are made of Italian marble.
Santa Catalina’s Monastery: The Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena, or Convent of Santa Catalina, is a religious building located in the historical center of Arequipa. We believe it is the most fascinating religious complex in Peru. Its architectonic style is mainly colonial; visitors can enjoy walking through the colorful narrow streets and merged into the meditative atmosphere of the place.
Colca Canyon: The fabulous Colca Canyon is reached via three packed dirt roads. All leave from the city of Arequipa and lead to the town of Chivay, crossing the Salinas and Aguada Blanca national reserves. The shortest road (148 km or 4 hours) is the recommended one since it is in good condition. Perhaps one of the major attractions of the area is its spectacular terracing, considered among the most extensive in southern Peru. The possibility of observing the flight of the condor in its native habitat, and the impressive scenery of one of the most beautiful spots on Earth make the Colca Canyon one of the most important travel destinations in the southern Andes.