Arequipa and Colca Canyon (3n/4d)

The Andean Condor is amongst the largest birds in the world

The Andean Condor is amongst the largest birds in the world

Day 1: Arrival in Arequipa and city tour
Upon your arrival, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives, who will give you a brief introduction to the city and to our services en route to the hotel. Fiercely guarded by three volcanoes—the Misti, the Chachani, and the Pichu Pichu—the magnificent Ciudad Blanca (White City) awaits you with its extraordinary architecture and surreal landscapes. Discover one of Peru’s most beautiful colonial cities. You will begin your tour with a visit to the Convento de Santa Catalina (Convent of St. Catherine). Founded in 1579 as a cloister, in its early days the convent was home to a small group of clergy who came from the local elite. Walk through its beautiful buildings as your guide takes you on a journey back in time through one of the largest holdings of colonial art in the Americas. The tour of the city will continue as you visit the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus). With its imposing size and fascinating appearance, this magnificent church will take your breath away. Be sure to pay special attention to the Baroque façade and the amazing sacristy, meticulously decorated with vividly-colored murals. After finishing your tour of the church, you will move on to the Mirador del Carmen (a natural lookout point), ten minutes from the city center. From there you will be able to enjoy a spectacular view of the Chili River Valley and of the majestic Misti. Next, you will stop off in the upscale neighborhood of Yanahuara and get a chance to walk along its wide cobblestone avenues and see its old ashlar stone mansions, which still preserve their traditional gardens. You will also be able to admire a beautiful church constructed in 1750 and a quaint plaza with a gorgeous ashlar stone lookout balcony. You will have the rest of the day free.

Day 2: From Arequipa to Colca Valley
Early in the morning, you will depart Arequipa to embark on a journey across a land of snow-covered volcanoes, inhospitable pampas, and incredibly beautiful quaint villages, arriving finally in the Colca Valley. The first stop will be in the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, whose rugged plains are home to vast herds of Guanaco, Alpaca, and Vicuña. You will continue the journey as you ride along the edge of the crater of the Chucura Volcano, until you reach the Mirador de los Andes (Lookout Point of the Andes) in Patapampa. This lookout point, at 16,100 ft (4,900 m) above sea level, will offer spectacular views of the snow-capped peaks of the various volcanoes surrounding Arequipa, including the Hualca Calca, the Sabancaya, and the Ampato. Next, you will head to the town of Chivay (close to where the Colca Valley begins) for a closer inspection of the impressive system of platforms and terraces built by the ancient Collagua and Cabana inhabitants. After lunch, you will make your way to the hotel. Rest of the afternoon free to take advantage of the hotel’s amenities, enjoy the tranquility of your surroundings, or simply rest and recover for the next day, as you see fit. Enjoy an excellent night’s rest at your hotel in the Colca Valley.

Day 3: Excursion to Condro cross and return to Arequipa city
Early in the morning, you will travel to the Mirador de la Cruz del Cóndor (Condor Cross Lookout). With its incredibly vast and breath-taking expanses, it is considered to be the best spot in the world to see the majestic Andean Condor in flight. Be on the lookout for the sudden appearance of this emblematic bird on the verge of extinction. With a little luck, you will enjoy a truly awe-inspiring experience as you watch this awesome bird soar, almost magically, ever higher into the infinite blue sky. From this vantage point, you will be able to look out across one of the world’s deepest canyons (13,650 feet [4,160 m] deep at the northern end and 11,800 feet [3,600 m] deep on its southern end). On the way back to Arequipa, you will stop to visit three great villages: Pinchollo Maca, Achoma, and Yanque. Two more must-see stops include the Miradores de Antahuilque (Lookout points of Antahuilque), where you will be able to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the region’s terraces, and Choquetico, with its hanging tombs and tiny irrigation models carved in stone. After lunch, return to Arequipa.

Day 4: Arequipa departure
At the scheduled departure time, you will be met by the transport service and escorted to the airport or bus or train station for your return trip.

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