Paso de Patopampa

Arequipa & Canyon Country

The highest point on the road between Arequipa and Chivay is this almost lifeless pass which, at 4910m, is significantly higher than Europe’s Mt Blanc and anywhere in North America’s Rocky Mountains. If your red blood cells are up to it, disembark into the rarefied air at the Mirador de los Volcanes to view a muscular consortium of eight snowcapped volcanoes: Ubinas (5675m), El Misti (5822m), Chachani (6075m), Ampato (6288m), Sabancaya (5976m), Huaca Huaca (6025m), Mismi (5597m) and Chucura (5360m).

Less spectacular but no less amazing is the scrubby yareta, one of the few plants that can survive in this harsh landscape. Yaretas can live for several millennia and their annual growth rate is measured in millimeters rather than centimeters.

Hardy ladies in traditional dress discreetly ply their wares at the mirador (lookout) during the day – this must be the world’s highest shopping center. It's also usually the last tour-bus stop from Arequipa heading into canyon country.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Arequipa & Canyon Country attractions

1. Astronomical Observatory

7.86 MILES

No light pollution equals excellent Milky Way vistas. The Casa Andina hotel six blocks southwest of the Plaza de Armas has a tiny observatory which holds…

2. Museo Yanque

8.77 MILES

This university-run museum is unexpectedly comprehensive for a small village, explaining the culture of the Cañón del Colca in conscientious detail…

3. Baños Chacapi

8.92 MILES

These hot springs, a more basic version of La Calera in Chivay, are a 30-minute walk down to the river from the plaza. The early-bird opening time is…

4. Pampa de Toccra

9.21 MILES

This high plain that lies between El Misti/Chachani and the Colca Canyon has an average height of around 4300m and supports plentiful bird and animal life…

5. Uyo Uyo

9.93 MILES

The remnants of this pre-Inca settlement aren't visible from the road, but can be reached by a half-hour uphill hike from Yanque (or one hour along Carr…

6. Patahuasi

23.4 MILES

The only civilization between Arequipa and Chivay, save for a few scattered farmsteads, is this fork in the road that acts as a kind of truck/bus stop and…

7. Cruz del Cóndor

23.67 MILES

This famed viewpoint is for many the highlight of their trip to the Cañón del Colca. A large family of Andean condors nests by the rocky outcrop and, with…

8. Mirador de San Miguel

27.52 MILES

The spectacular views here are a highlight of Cabanaconde, taking in the mountain range, with the villages resembling specks of white dust clinging to its…