The Best Hikes to Take in Arequipa

Colca Canyon in Arequipa, Peru
Colca Canyon in Arequipa, Peru | | © Pixabay
Brandon Dupre

Cusco and the Sacred Valley get a lot of attention for their world-class hikes, which are usually to Incan ruins, and beautiful natural landscapes. Quietly, Arequipa has served as the second tourist destination in Peru, living in the shadow of Cusco—but not any longer. Arequipa can offer adventurers some of Peru’s best hikes and most unique natural beauty. From the deepest canyon in the world to climbing a volcano, here are the best hikes in Arequipa.

Colca Canyon

Always the first thing everyone does when they get to Arequipa—maybe after a day of rest—is hike the Colca Canyon, but with so many hiking options it can be a little bit confusing. If you’re short on time, there’s a one day option and it’s a long day (You’ll be picked up at 3 a.m. and return at around 7 p.m.) There are also a bevy of multi-day options, some including horses and rafting. If you really want to explore everything that the canyon has to offer, the multi-day options are recommended. It is also not required to have a guide and can just as easily explore the canyon by yourself. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels to stay at along your hike. To enter the canyon you’ll have to pay a 70 soles (around US$20) entrance fee and this fee is not usually included in tour prices.

El Misti

The more time you spend in Arequipa, the more you’ll be looking up at El Misti, the volcano that looms over the city, visible in all the famous photos. The more you look up at the giant volcano, the more you’ll want to climb it. Despite being 5,822 meters above sea level, the climb to the top isn’t that difficult. In fact it’s one of the easiest in the world for its size. Unless you have the necessary equipment—like crampons and an ice axe—you’ll want to hire a guide. There are many companies that offer two-day hikes to the top with equipment included that costs around US$70–$100. You’ll get some of the best views of the city, see a yellow crater spewing gas—and, come on, you’ll be climbing a volcano!

Countryside

One of the easier hikes you’ll do in Arequipa is a hike through Characato valley. You won’t need to wake up at some unreasonable hour and can leave whenever you want. Take a bus or taxi to Characato valley and from there you’ll walk through countryside landscape, see Inca farming terraces, and get uninterrupted views of the volcanoes El Misti and Chachani.

Chachani Volcano

The volcano stands at about 6,000 meters above sea level and will require special equipment, like an ice axe and crampons, to climb. There are many options to choose from—two-, three-, or four-day treks—but no matter which you choose you’re in for an adventure. From the top you’ll get some of the best views of Arequipa and the entire valley below.

El Misti covered in snow

Laguna de Salinas

Not as recognized as the other must-see destinations in Arequipa, however, Laguna de Salinas is worth your time. During the dry months in Arequipa, the salt lake dries up into a salt flat, and during the rainy season you’ll see flamingos and Andean water birds. You can take a bus from Arequipa to Ubinas (which takes around three hours) and from there hike to the lake and around it, which may take a couple of days.

City tour

The city of Arequipa is one of Peru’s most beautiful cities and deserves your time. Walking around the city and checking out the Plaza de Armas may not seem like a hike, but once you’re done it’ll feel like one. There are free walking tours every day beginning in the main plaza.

Arequipa’s main square

Cotahuasi

Colca Canyon may get all the attention, but Cotahuasi owns the title of the world’s deepest canyon. At around twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Cotahuasi is a sight to behold and worth your time. The only way to truly explore the depths of the canyon is to do a water running tour, but there are still trekking option that you can do around the valley.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article