Arequipa - Colca - Puno - Cuzco

This is one of the most heavily-visited circuits in South America, not just because of the connections between the cities, but also for the many attractions in the region.

The route starts out at Arequipa, a 50-minute flight from Lima or 14 hours by road 1,003 km (622 miles), a road. The stopover in Arequipa, at 2,335 meters (7,659 miles), will enable visitors to get used to the altitude, but above all take in sights such as the Cathedral and the Santa Catalina Convent , while the city outskirts features some beautiful countryside. The road heads on, from Arequipa to the town of Chivay (five hours), the gateway to the Colca Valley, which is littered with soaring volcanoes and breath-taking landscapes. Chivay offers a wide range of possibilities to tour the valley and reach the lookout point of Cruz del Condor, which grants visitors spectacular views of condors wheeling across, one of the world´s deepest canyons, the Colca Canyon. The nearby picturesque villages, which feature fine Baroque churches and main squares, authentic traces of their colonial past, are also worth a look-in. Adventure sports lovers will also discover endless opportunities for hiking, climbing and rafting.

The next stop on the tour, whether by train, car or plane, is Puno, 281 km (174 miles) southeast of Arequipa. Visitors can take boat trips across Lake Titicaca and visit the islands, which feature marvelous natural scenery, white sandy beaches, the unique fauna and flora of the highland plains and above all, the people and their traditions.

From Puno, the train winds its way north to Cuzco, dubbed the archaelogical capital of the Americas. The trip takes five hours by road. The city of Cuzco, offers visitors endless possibilities for tourism. One interesting alternative is to tour the city´s many churches and colonial buildings and take in the exquisite art forms which were the result of the encounter between native and Western cultures. Particulary striking are the oil paintings dating from the seventeenth-century Cuzco School. Above all Cuzco is an archaeological treasure, featuring temples, fortresses, palaces and other Inca buildings, including the citadel of Machu Pichu, held to be one of the wonders of the world. The area around Cuzco is also ideal for adventure sports of all kinds.

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