Arequipa lies in southern Peru, at an altitude of 2,328 metres in the Andes and has a population of 800,000. It is set within green valleys and three soaring volcanoes: Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu. Arequipa is the starting point to explore the Colca and the Cotahuasi (two of the deepest canyons in the world) and observation points from which to view the majestic Andean Condor. Founded in 1540, Arequipa is also known as the White City due to the fact that many buildings in the historical centre are constructed of ashlar or volcanic white stone. This, together with the talents of extraordinary craftsmen, who have carved this stone over the centuries, have produced a city of such outstanding character that UNESCO has declared it a world cultural heritage site.
The climate of Arequipa is warm and rather dry all through the year. Arequipa lies alongside the southernmost tip of Peru’s Desert Coast and enjoys plenty of sunny weather, with daytime temperatures rarely dipping much below 20 °C (68 °F) or thereabouts. However, by night, temperatures in Arequipa can drop sharply, particularly in June, July and August, when evening temperatures hover around 10 °C (50 °F), and at times fall to 5 °C (41 °F). You will need sunglasses, hat and sunblock.
The Main Square, the Cathedral and Town Hall, with beautiful architecture and surrounded by arches of ashlar frequented by tourists, other important constructions are those made with religious influence. Those include the Santa Catalina Monastery (the most important religious monument of South America). Among the 500 old and colonial houses, the most important are “La Casa del Moral”, “La Casa de Tristán del Pozo”, “La Casa de Irriberry”, “La Casa del Pastor”, “El Palacio de Goyeneche” and “La Mansión del Fundador”. At night, San Francisco street is the heart of the night life with several restaurants, bars and discotheques.
Arequipan cuisine is famous in Peru. It is complex, varied and flavorful. Arequipa is capital of the prawn, crustaceans worthy of being served to a king, which are abundant in the rivers of the southern coast. Among the most notable dishes you’ll find stuffed peppers (rocoto relleno), pork stew (adobo), prawn chowder (chupe de camarones) and fried ribs (malaya frita). The dessert known as queso helado, made from frozen milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and coconut, also stands out. Ideally, local dishes should be accompanied by an aniseed liquor called anis Najar. The restaurants where traditional food is sold are called picanterías.