FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
WF awards

Arequipa, Peru, Offers Adventure for the Family

by Felicity Long

Mar 12, 2020

Meinzahn | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / South America

Arequipa might not be the first place you think of when you think of Peru, but this UNESCO World Heritage district, known as the White City because of the color of much of its Spanish Colonial architecture, is a haven for families looking to experience the charm of this South American destination without the bustle of Lima and Cuzco.


One-tenth the size of Lima — and the population is only 1 million compared to the capital’s 10 million — Arequipa is nonetheless Peru’s second-largest city. Part of its charm is its eye-popping location at 7,500 feet above sea level, flanked by soaring volcanoes, and between the Andes and coastal desert of southwest Peru.


Founded by the Spanish in 1540, the city — about a 75-minute flight from Lima — also boasts spring-like weather and 300 days of sunshine.


Start your exploration along the cobbled streets of the historic district and stop for coffee, hot chocolate or queso hellado, an artisanal ice cream, at Plaza de Armas, sunny by day and lit up at night. Highlights include the bronze fountain topped by an angel, the massive La Catedral and the Pasaje Catedral pedestrian zone with shops and outdoor cafés with umbrella-shaded dining.


Nearby are the 17th-century Jesuit Iglesia de la Compania; the Monastery of Santa Catalina, which features a small café and a gift shop selling soap handmade by the nuns; the Mercado San Camilo; the Museo Santuarios Andinos; and the Casa Museo Mario Vargas Llosa, an interactive museum that tells the life story of the 2010 Nobel Prize-winning novelist born in Arequipa.


Iglesia de Compania. Photo: Saiko3p | Dreamstime.com


Many of Arequipa’s old buildings feature flowering courtyards and carved stone facades, most built in the 19th century after a devastating 1868 earthquake, and a number of them are open to the public.


Behind the cathedral’s twin bell towers stands El Misti, a 19,000-foot active volcano that is snowcapped in season. The volcano seems to be a few blocks away, but in reality it’s 11 miles north of the city and offers a landmark for finding your way around.


Arequipa owes much of its distinctive culture to its isolated location, which for centuries was only accessible via mule trail until a railroad linked it to the rest of the country in 1870.


Its pre-Colonial history is on display at the Museo Santuarios Andinos, for example, where you can see the well-preserved mummy of Juanita, a young Inca girl sacrificed and buried in ice for more than 500 years near the 20,000-foot summit of volcanic Mount Ampato, but not discovered until 1995.


Or take a daytrip to Toro Muerto to see petroglyphs of alpacas, condors, snakes and geometric shapes carved into volcanic rock by the Wari people between 500–1300 BC.


Toro Muerto Petroglyphs. Photo: Rafał Cichawa | Dreamstime.com


Speaking of alpacas, this region is the country’s epicenter of the alpaca industry. Here you can buy spun-and-processed alpaca and vicuna wool in the shops in the cloisters of Iglesia de la Compania; in dedicated Kuna shops; and in Anntarah, a fair-trade operation whose baby alpaca woven knits and textiles, as well as Pima cotton clothing for babies and children, are produced by hundreds of local families.


Foodies, especially those unafraid of spicy cuisine, can sample such local favorites as adobo, a pork chop stew cooked in a clay pot over an open fire, and rocoto relleno, a bell-shaped rocoto pepper stuffed with minced meat, cheese, eggs, raisins, peas and carrots. For a change of pace, though, you can also find plenty of international fare throughout the city.


Finally, outdoor adventures include trekking, river rafting, zip lining and condor watching in the Colca Valley nearby. You can also tour the new UNESCO Geopark, Valle de los Volcanes, a 40-mile route that descends from 14,000 feet to the bottom of the canyon, where you can get a different perspective of the volcanoes, including the 21,000-foot Corupuna, the highest in Peru.


Insta Feed
Jul 8, 2024

Margaritaville at Sea’s “Islander” Makes Maiden Voyage

Family travelers will delight in Margaritaville at Sea’s Islander, which set sail on her inaugural voyage in June 2024, departing from Port Tampa Bay to Cozumel, Mexico, on a four-night journey. The ship boasts 12 decks accommodating 2,650 passengers. The ship will now continue to sail four- and five-night cruises to Key West and Mexico, before venturing to Belize, Jamaica and Grand Cayman on six- and seven-night itineraries in 2026.

United Continues Its Global Expansion

United Airlines keeps soaring to new heights, recently announcing another expansion of its leading global route network. The airline added new non-stop flights between Newark (EWR) and Marrakesh (RAK), Morocco; Tokyo (NRT) and Cebu (CEB), Philippines; and Houston (IAH) and Medellin (MDE), Colombia. That’s not all: United also plans to increase flights to popular worldwide destinations including Hong Kong (HKG); Seoul (INC), South Korea; and Porto (OPO), Portugal. Following the recent agreement to increase flights between the U.S. and Chinese governments, the airline now adds four weekly flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai (PVG).

Jul 4, 2024

Peak Pursuits Adventures Awaits from East West Hospitality

East West Hospitality offers family travelers exciting experiences in California and Colorado with its new Peak Pursuits program. With help from East West Hospitality’s expert Guest Experience team, guests may customize the curated itineraries to best fit their needs.

Jul 2, 2024

7 Canadian National Parks for Family Travel

It’s time to start dreaming of your next family trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through these Canadian national parks with us.

Sunflower Accessibility Program Featured at O’Hare and Midway Airports

Travelers with invisible disabilities passing through O’Hare and Midway International Airports can now discreetly signal they need assistance thanks to a new Chicago Department of Aviation partnership that helps create more accessible and inclusive spaces.

Jul 2, 2024

Holland America Line, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center Invited Fans to Name Rescue Moose

Holland America Line and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center teamed up to offer family travelers a chance to name a rescue moose. Suggestions were accepted on a designated post on the cruise line’s Facebook and Instagram pages through June 23. Holland America Line gives cruise-goers the chance to view Alaska’s wildlife responsibly from its ships and on shore excursions. AWCC rescues injured and orphaned animals, offering them spacious enclosures and quality care.