Peru Arequipa
Peru Arequipa Santa Catalina

Peru's second city is an elegant, refined counterweight to Lima's grey skies and frequently frenetic streets. A colonial-era city constructed from sillar, a type of white volcanic stone, Arequipa is home to some outstanding architecture, fantastic cuisine, and a fiercely independent spirit. And the year-round sunshine makes it very tempting to linger.

The sillar is the product of nearby volcanic activity. From most points in the city, you can see the conical and still active stratovolcano Misti, a wonderful if slightly disconcerting presence, as it last erupted in 1985. The main tourist attractions in the “White City,” as it is known, include the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a picturesque monastery that covers an entire city block. Then there’s the Museo Santuarios Andinos, a modern museum that contains the eerily well-preserved mummy of Juanita, a 12-year-old Inca girl sacrificed to the gods in the 1450s. Arequipa is also the main starting point for tours to the nearby Colca Canyon.

Hiking tips

Everything you need to visit Peru's crown jewels

Whatever trail you choose, hiking or trekking to Machu Picchu is a vigorous endeavour that should be treated with the respect it deserves. That said, thousands of people – of all ages and ability – complete these treks each year. There are no special skills required, just determination and thorough more

12 days

Highlights of Peru

A grand tour of Peru's mountain civilisation
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