Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca

Arequipa & Canyon Country

The paved road from Arequipa climbs northeast past volcanoes El Misti and Chachani to this national reserve, which covers 367,000 hectares at an average elevation of 4300m. As most travelers speed through on the way to the canyons, this is where their heads may tingle at high altitude as they note the rocky and extraterrestrial landscape turn sparse of vegetation, and criss-crossed with darting vicuńas (threatened, wild relatives of alpacas). Get out here to trek on old Inca trails.

Only a handful of llama herders roam the national reserve, giving a chance for high-altitude loving tarucas envinados (Andean deer), guanacos and flamingos to thrive without human interference.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Arequipa & Canyon Country attractions

1. Patahuasi

10.36 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…

2. Laguna de Salinas

16.06 MILES

This salt lake 4300m above sea level becomes a white salt flat during the dry months of May to December. Its size and the amount of water in it vary each…

4. Yanahuara

22.45 MILES

This tranquil neighborhood makes for a pleasant, walkable excursion, with a mirador (lookout) as its centerpiece providing excellent views of Arequipa and…

5. Iglesia San Juan Bautista

22.47 MILES

This small church in Yanahuara dates from 1750. The highly venerated Virgen de Chapi was moved here after the 2001 earthquake destroyed the church it was…

6. Iglesia de San Francisco

22.51 MILES

Originally built in the 16th century, this church has been badly damaged by several earthquakes. It still stands in its sillar (white volcanic rock)-brick…

7. Museo Histórico Municipal

22.52 MILES

The historical trajectory of both Arequipa and Peru is showcased in this educational, if unexciting, museum, split into different rooms dedicated to…

8. Monasterio de Santa Catalina

22.63 MILES

This convent shouldn’t be missed, even if you’ve overdosed on colonial edifices. Occupying a whole block and guarded by imposing high walls, it is one of…