Aracari | Discover The Beauty Of Colca And Arequipa
Aracari introduces new historical and nature-based guest experiences in Colca & Arequipa, Peru’s lesser-known gems for 2018
The recent launch of the Belmond Andean Explorer, South America’s first luxury sleeper train, has succeeded in shifting the spotlight from the country’s well-trodden tourist spots to overlooked gems such as Arequipa, Peru’s second most populous city, and the neighboring Colca region, home to condors and the second deepest canyon in the world. Now, a flurry of boutique hotel openings plus vastly improved infrastructure, including the opportunity for guests to travel by luxury train all the way to Arequipa or hop off early at Colca, has made the region more accessible than ever before. To celebrate, bespoke operator and pioneering Peru specialists, Aracari, has launched a dedicated package to the region filled with exclusive experiences allowing guests unrivalled insight into this lesser-visited historical hotspot.
The journey will begin in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Arequipa, coined the ‘White City’ for its chalk-white colonial architecture, home to a wealth of historical marvels and framed by three volcanoes. Aracari guests now have the chance to delve deep into its past on an exclusive tour of Santa Teresa Monastery with Aracari specialist Franz Grupp, Arequipa’s minister of culture and the director of vice regal artwork.
In addition to its rich history and culture, Aracari invites guests to explore two of Arequipa’s most iconic products – its unique white stone and Peru’s most celebrated tipple, Pisco. The newly introduced half-day Ruta del Sillar experience, located around 40 minutes from Arequipa, provides special access to the quarry where the volcanic stone used to build much of the city has been carved. Here, guests have the chance to observe the age-old traditional carving techniques used to create the classical white building blocks, learning directly from the masons about the significance of this material whilst Aracari’s newly introduced Pisco route tour unearths the scarcely-visited green grape growing region and introduces producers of Peru’s most iconic drink. Reachable as a day trip from Arequipa, the experience will follow the entire production process right through to extensive sampling followed by visits to a hand-picked selection of local bodegas.
A wave of new openings for 2018, including a 16-room property from the Anany Hotel Group plus the addition of superior rooms at La Hosteria, a picturesque colonial house hotel five minutes from Santa Catalina Monastery, will greatly increase the level of luxury accommodation in the city.
Venture on from Arequipa to the region of Colca, one of Peru’s lesser-explored adventure destinations famed for condor-spotting and hiking through soaring Andean passes. Enhanced infrastructure has greatly increased access to key sites such as the Madrigal Chimpa Fortress and Pinchollo Geyser whilst Belmond’s recent acquisition of Las Casitas, a 20-casita resort at the foot of Colca Canyon, provides a great itinerary add-on from the Andean Explorer. Over at Colca Lodge, the addition of Casa de Dueños or ‘Owner’s House’ is the perfect base for a family or group comprising three spacious bedrooms and a private outdoor terrace. Located between the villages of Coporaque and Ichupampa and built around gardens and pre-Incan grass terraces, the hotel is home to private thermal baths, a major natural attraction of the region and is walkable to the Uyo Uyo ruins.
Designed to beat the crowds, Aracari has introduced a number of special access hikes throughout the Colca region, welcoming just one to two groups a day. Home to the valley’s oldest church and spectacular views, these include newly introduced hikes to Chimpa Fortress, an alternative way to see the Colca Canyon where condors can be observed. Aracari’s Colca Peru hike to Canocota Canyon, the lesser visited equivalent to the Colca Canyon, offers a unique and little-known view of the area which can also be done on horseback. Other horse riding experiences include a newly introduced excursion to Achoma which takes guests through pre-Incan agricultural terraces whilst Aracari’s Coporaque community experience provides unrivalled insight into the human side of the region by spending the day with a local family.