This Cordillera is the Occidental branch of the main Cordillera that splits in two at its Northern end. To the South, it meets successively the Bolivian Occidental Cordillera and the volcanoes of South Lipez (summits treated in the Bolivia section of the website). From North to South, it constitutes a natural frontier between Chile and its neighbors, thus bordering two very different ecosystem: the Altiplano to the East and a narrow strip of arid land to the West. The following summits are located in the beautiful neighborhood of the Colca Canyon.
Access: From Arequipa, head for the area of the Colca Canyon, with a 4WD, or by bus bus to Chivay (from the bus station of Arequipa, daily departures).
COROPUNA - el. 6425 m.a.s.l.
Coropuna means "sacred tomb on the plateau" in remembrance of the Inca crossing of this gigantic volcano, which summit is an immense 5 mile plateau at 6000 meters of elevation. The SW summit seams to rise higher. Reach first the village of Aplao, located in a fertile valley, crossed and irrigated by the Majes River. The area is first and foremost volcanic, we can count 70 volcanoes in the surrounding area! It is a pretty quiet neighborhood. The scarce inhabitants are Quechua Indians, mostly nomads.
Note: the Cotahuasi Valley is the deepest in the world with its 3500 meters (deeper than the Colca Valley). The area is very seldom visited because of its difficult access.
Tips for after the ascent: the waterfalls of Sipia (150 m), the hot springs (from 40 to 90 degree centigrados), and the visit of the Inca ruins of Maauk Allajia and Uma Qacho.
From Arequipa, and then Aplao, reach the village of Chuquibamba.
follow on in the direction of Cotahuasi and stop at laguna Pallacocha (el. 4750 m.a.s.l.) (note: the lake is not visible from the road). 8-hour drive.
Itinerary (F, W Face, 1 to 2d): Follow the ancient track used to collect the llareta heading towards the Northern summit visible on the left then fork in the direction of the pass between the Southern and the Northern summits. Step on the glacier at around el. 5450 m.a.s.l. and follow the left side of the glacier until reaching the pass between the two summits at el. 6100 m.a.s.l. The numerous summits of this vast volcano because then vsible. From there, climb directly to the main summit, SW.
AMPATO - el. 6288 m.a.s.l.
It is on the summit of this volvano that J. Reinhart discovered in 1995 a young Inca girl, sacrificed 5 centuaries ago. The eruption of Sabancaya, its immediate neighbor, accelerating the glacier melt of the Ampato made this discovery possible.
Access: From Aréquipa, follow the road to Chivay. 1 hour before Chivay, head left to the village of Sallalli. Follow the valley between Ampato and Sabancaya. Camp at el. 5200 m.a.s.l. (6-hour drive, 2-hour walk).
Itinerary (F, SE Face, 5/6-hour): Climb directly towards the summit on the lava fields and then the glacier starting at around el. 5800 m.a.s.l. Numerous itinerary possible, the penitentes can make the ascent tiresome.
Lying 1000 kilometers South of Lima, Arequipa, the second largest city of Peru, is known as the White City for its beautiful white walls of sillar, a volcanic stone. Arequipa stands at an altitude of 2300 meters a.s.l, at the base of the mighty volcanoes Chachani, Misti, and Pichu Pichu.
It is often said that the city’s name comes from the Quechua phrase "Ari, quepay" which means: "Yes, stay". Nowadays one assumes that the name is from Aymara "ari" (peak) + "kipa" (locative) and means something like "near the mountain". The downtown of the city, placed on the World Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO, features Mixed Baroque churches and mansions from the Colonial Period like the Monastery of Santa Catalina, a Spanish city in miniature with stone streets, beautiful patios, and plazas.
Sabandía, Tiabaya, and Tingo, located among the large fields, are must see places, and the irresistible Arequipa cuisine is the perfect complement to the visit. Arequipeños like to think of themselves as being separate from, and superior to, the rest of Peru, and much of Arequipa is very traditional and regional.
It is even possible to get an Arequipeño passport, although this is no more than regional pride.
Just 3 hours and 45 minutes from the capital is the Colca River valley and canyon, one of the most extraordinary destinations in the country.
Throughout the region, you can see colorful pre-Incan agricultural terraces still used today for growing quinoa, corn, barley, and wheat. During the pre-Hispanic era, the department was inhabited by the Collaguas and the Cabanas; today, the inhabitants have learned to conserve their Colonial churches in Yanque, Lari, and Madrigal, and they continue to wear their traditional clothing.
You can also do many types of adventure sports in the valley such as mountain biking, trekking, and white water rafting. And, at the Cross of the Condor, you can view the majestic flight of the condors.
Other places of interest in the department are the Toro Muerto petroglyphs, the Andagua Valley of the Volcanoes, and the Cotahuasi Canyon. One of Arequipa’s most important inhabitants, the Mummy Juanita, was discovered on the top of the Ampato Glacier (6280 meters high) in 1995.
This mummy of a 14-years old Inca girl was remarkably well preserved for 500 years, making her one of the more important mummy finds in recent years.
Bordered by various arched walkways and the Cathedral, the Main Square possesses a beautiful bronze fountain of three plates crowned by the figure of a sixteenth century soldier. Of this person, who is called “Tuturutu”, the story says he was in charge of warning of any new event. Around the square, you see three granite portals with brick and lime bases: Portal del Cabildo (Portal de la Municipalidad), Portal de las Delicias (Portal de San Agustín), and Portal del Regocijo (Portal de Flores).
It is considered one of the first seventeenth century religious monuments of the city. It is built of sillar (white volcanic stone) with a brick base. Destroyed by fire in 1844, it was rebuilt in 1868 by the Arequipa architect Lucas Poblete. He used a neoclassical style and placed the entrances of church on the flanking naves. In 2001, the building was struck hard by an earthquake, which seriously damaged its towers.
Iglesia de La Compañía and complex (The Church of the Company of Jesus Christ).
This complex, made up of buildings constructed by the Jesuits for religious and living purposes, is a representative monument of the seventeenth century religious architecture (1660). The church itself rises from the center of the buildings. It was designed in 1573 by Gaspar Baez and destroyed by an earthquake in 1584. The current structure dates from 1650. Inside you find sixty-six canvases from the Cuzco School from such artists as Bernardo Bitti and Diego de la Puente.
It was built in the nineteenth century and is composed of a series of sillar stone arches where the words of famous Arequipa citizens have been engraved. This spot is a wonderful viewpoint of the city and Mount Misti volcano.
District of Cayma.
The village of Cayma is known as the “Balcony of Arequipa” for its advantageous location that allows the entire city to be seen. Its central plaza houses the church of San Miguel Arcángel (Saint Michael the Archangel), built in 1730 and considered an architectural jewel because of its mixed façade. In the rectory annex, the “Comedor de Bolívar” (Bolivar’s dining room) is preserved where, according to legend, the Liberators used to have lunch during their stay in the town.
The Misti volcano, 5825 m.a.s.l. / 19.111 f.a.s.l. is the guardian of the city. From the summit, you can see the city of Arequipa, the Chili River valley, and the Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes.