This is what you’ll be able to tick off the bucket list with a visit to Arequipa, Nazca and Huacachina and if they weren’t on your bucket list before, they will be now.
All with absolute must-sees and easily accessible to each other, here’s why you should not ignore these destinations when travelling around Southern Peru.
With a UNESCO world heritage listed city centre and surrounded by 3 dramatic volcanoes, it is already clear why Arequipa usually makes it onto the shortlist of places to visit in Peru. Arequipa also allows you to see the following…
One of the Most Beautiful Plazas in South America
Plaza de Armas is often referred to as the most beautiful plaza in a South America. What makes this plaza unique are the buildings that surround it, built from white volcanic stone, giving Arequipa its nickname of the White City. The centrepiece, the Basilica Cathedral is worth a visit alone. The plaza is also a great place to get your hands on Arequipa’s claim to dessert fame, cheese ice cream. Don’t worry though, there’s actually no cheese, just yummy coconut and condensed milk.
The Only Convent in the World Comprised of a City Inside a City
Step back 400 years as you walk through the high walled community of The Santa Catalina Monastery, where there were once 450 nuns living inside, secluded from the outside world. The monastery is even open 2 evenings a week, to be explored by candlelight, just as the nuns would have. Not only is this site impressive by its sheer size and intricacies, it is also a very pretty place, full of bright colours and water fountains.
The Second Deepest Canyon in the World
Arequipa is the gateway to visiting Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world. Colca Canyon is also a home to one of the largest flying birds in the world, the Andean Condor, which has an average wing span of 10ft. The canyon can either be visited over 2+ days, hiking to the bottom of the canyon and staying overnight or if hiking isn’t your thing, it can be visited with a day trip but be warned that it will be an early start this way.
Come Face to Face With One of the World's Biggest Archeological Mysteries
Nazca is the location of the famous Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are a group of lines, geometric figures and animal and plant drawings in the ground, including a lizard, monkey and spider, amongst many others. There are many speculations over who constructed the lines and for what reason so it makes for a very interesting visit to see them with your own eyes and come up with your own theories. There is a free observatory spot to see the lines from but they can only be truly appreciated from the sky so a flight, although obviously more costly, is highly recommended and 100% worth it. We personally went with Great Nazca Tours, who were exactly as they say, Great.
Huacachina is a small village in a desert oasis, located just a short distance from Ica or 4 hours from Lima.
Slide Down a Dune in South America’s Only Natural Desert Oasis
Due to having the largest sand dunes in South America and being the only desert oasis on the continent too, it should come as no surprise that Huacachina is a popular destination. The most popular activity in Huacachina is to take a ride on the dunes in a buggy, which feels pretty similar to a rollercoaster ride. You can also bodyboard down the dunes or even ski! Be sure to also stick around for a view of the sun setting over the oasis.
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