Two unique nature reserves in Peru have been officially awarded Geopark status by UNESCO. The Colca Canyon and the Volcanoes of Andagua are now protected places. The Arequipa region has been attracting thousands of tourists to this area for many years. The infrastructure will be expanded in the coming years so that even more people can enjoy these natural wonders in southern Peru in a responsible way.
The Colca Canyon and the Volcanoes of Andagua form the first Geopark of Peru and the third in South America. Unesco declares an area to be a Geopark if it is of great scientific importance, both geologically, archeologically, ecologically and culturally. These natural areas must be preserved, protected and promoted for future generations to show the beauty to as many people as possible.
Sustainable tourism development
The status of Geopark – and the granting of subsidies – are subject to the necessary conditions, which Peru is now working hard on. Among other things, the area is extensively mapped and clear information signs, informative brochures and websites are being created. In addition, local residents are trained to be able to further develop sustainable tourism, infrastructure and trade, as well as irrigation systems, education and healthcare. The goal is that both tourists and locals in the provinces of Caylloma and Castilla benefit from this international recognition.
New tourist route
Immediately after the Geopark news, the Arequipa region launched a new tourist route in the province of Castilla, passing through all the highlights of the Colca Canyon and the Valley of the Volcanos of Andagua de los Volcanes. The name of the first route (under development) is “Ayo: Hidden Paradise, Mamacocha Lagoon”. Those following this route will see the most unique flora and fauna and the enchanting “blue lagoon”. Ayo is a district in Castilla that is loved for its beautiful nature.
Nature at its best
The new Geopark is located in the south of Peru and this area has an enormous geological and cultural wealth, unique flora and fauna and an ancient history. The Colca Canyon has become a major attraction in the Arequipa region in recent years and is a paradise for hikers. With over 4150 meters, the Colca is one of the deepest gorges in the world. A must-see here is the “Mirador de la Cruz del Cóndor”, where you can see the huge Andean condor – a sacred bird since the Incan era – flying through the gorge. Furthermore, it is a beautiful place for canoeing, climbing and of course beautiful walks. The Valle de los Volcanes is known for the dozens of strange “cones”; remains of volcanic eruptions. In addition, the new Geopark contains various authentic, colorful villages and both pre-Spanish remains and colonial churches.
How do you get there?
Arequipa is the ideal base for discovering the new Geopark. The Colca Canyon is around 160 km away (4 hours’ drive) and various tours are offered in Arequipa. Buses also run to both the Colca Canyon and the Valle de los Volcanes. A drive to the Volcanic Valley takes about 10 hours.