Museo Santuarios Andinos

Top choice in Arequipa

There’s an escalating drama to this theatrically presented museum, dedicated to the preserved body of a frozen ‘mummy,’ and its compulsory guided tour (free, but a tip is expected at the end). Spoiler: the climax is the vaguely macabre sight of poor Juanita, the 12-year-old Inca girl sacrificed to the gods in the 1450s and now eerily preserved in a glass refrigerator. Tours take about an hour and are conducted in Spanish, English and French.

Before presenting Juanita herself, well-versed student guides from the university lead you through a series of atmospheric, dimly lit rooms filled with artifacts from the expedition that found the ‘mummy.’ There is a beautifully shot 20-minute film about how Juanita, the so-called ‘Ice Maiden,’ was unearthed atop Nevado Ampato in 1995. From January to April, Juanita is switched for a different 'mummy' and placed in deep freeze in total darkness for conservation purposes.

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