Sparkling in the sun, Arequipa is called the 'White City' because of the sillar, the white volcanic stone which renders the style of a building both modern as well as Spanish colonial. Peru’s second largest city (pop. 635 000) is surrounded by towering mountains—including the 19 089-ft/5820-m volcano El Misti. The city itself is the home of the monastery of La Recoleta (museum and library) and several interesting churches, but its highlight is the Santa Catalina Convent. Built in the late 16th century (but closed to the public until 1970), the convent was once a self-contained community, a place where nuns could worship and live in total isolation. Walk through the well-preserved convent, soak up the peaceful atmosphere and discover the tiny secluded plazas and lovely courtyards within.
From Arequipa take a guided tour of Colca Canyon one of the deepest canyons in the world (11 500 ft/3 500 m). A journey to the canyon offers a view of extensive pre-Incan and Incan agricultural terracing, some of which is still farmed today. You might get the chance to see Andean condors at Cruz del Condor at the lookout point. For the more adventurous, follow the footsteps of the chasqui,the Incan foot messengers and trek the canyon.