How to Spend 2 Days in Arequipa
Not only does Arequipa boast a historic center recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also considered the adventure capital of Peru. Two days in the White City gives you enough time to get your bearings in the Old Town and also venture farther afield to experience Colca Canyon (Cañón del Colca), one of Peru’s most impressive natural wonders. Here’s how.
Day 1: Essential Arequipa
**Morning:**Devote your first morning to Arequipa’s main draw: its UNESCO-listed historic center, made largely of white volcanic sillar. Cobbled streets lend themselves well to walking tours, but if you’d rather cover more sights in less time, then opt for tour by minibus or hop-on hop-off bus.
**Afternoon:**Spend the afternoon exploring farther afield. Escape the crowds of the Old Town on a countryside tour, which typically cover far-flung attractions such as Founder’s Mansion (La Mansión del Fundador), Sabandía Mill (Molino de Sabandía), and the Iron Bridge, designed by the architect responsible for the Eiffel Tower.
**Evening:**Eat your fill of Peruvian classics this evening, during either a hands-on cooking class or a food tour. Tours typically reveal lesser-known dishes and showcase the historic center illuminated by night.
Day 2: Discover Colca Canyon
**Morning:**Rise very early and dedicate day two to a Peruvian natural wonder: Colca Canyon. Travel three hours to the town of Chivay, gateway to the canyon; most tours include round-trip transport from Arequipa and breakfast in Chivay. Plunging down 13,650 feet (4,160 meters), Colca is one of the world’s deepest canyons—with a breadth of activities to match. If you’re looking for an adrenaline fix, choose to explore by hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, or rafting. Alternatively, for something less intense, choose a tour that includes a visit to the Mirador de la Cruz de Cóndor vista point, from which you may observe giant Andean condors, among the world’s largest flying birds.
**Afternoon:**Continue your canyon exploration after lunch, which is included with most tours. You may visit canyon villages to peruse crafts and sample local specialties, stop at nearby thermal baths, or even go ziplining before returning to Arequipa, stopping at scenic overlooks along the way.
**Evening:**Given that Colca Canyon tours from Arequipa typically last upwards of 12 hours, you may want to make it an early night. If you’ve got the time, though, opt to stay overnight in Chivay, gateway not only to Colca Canyon but also the floating villages of Puno. Several overnight tours include accommodation in Chivay, where shops sell high-quality alpaca souvenirs.