Located in the southwestern province of the same name, Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru after Lima. Also known as !The White City because of its numerous buildings built from the local white volcanic rock, the citys beautiful colonial architecture and a backdrop of the mighty Misti Volcano make it visually striking. The historic city centre and the fascinating Santa Catalina Convent have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a few hours out of town you"ll find the spectacular Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, home to the majestic Andean condors that glide on the canyon"s thermal currents.

Once a valued stop on the trade routes of the Inca Empire, the city"s demographics have changed considerably during its long history. The modern version of Arequipa was originally founded in 1540 by Garcí Manuel de Carbajal, a Spanish emissary of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, and was given official city status a year later by King Charles V of Spain. Today the city is home to a mixture of peoples from the country"s large indigenous groups and the Spanish ancestry of colonial times.

The Plaza de Armas – Arequipa has one of Peru"s most beautiful plazas with an impressive cathedral to the north, and well preserved colonial buildings surrounding the other three sides. There are several cafes and restaurants lining the square that are ideal for people watching.

The Santa Catalina Convent – For 400 years, since its foundation in 1579, the convents narrow cobblestone streets and small squares were kept hidden behind think stone walls where several hundred nuns lived in seclusion. Today the doors have been opened and visitors can glimpse the fascinating history of a bygone way of life.

El Misti Volcano - Along with its sister volcanoes, Chachani and Pichu Pichu, El Misti dominates the landscape. At 5830m it is the only one of the three still active. All three are safe for exploring and offer spectacular views.

The Colca Canyon - Located in the province of Arequipa, the impressive Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world (at 3535m it is twice the depth of the Grand Canyon). The region is covered by a network of beautiful hiking trails and is also home to some interesting flora and fauna such as Andean condors and vicunas.

RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS Zig Zag Located within Arequipa's historic centre opposite the beautiful Plaza San Francisco, this European style restaurant inhabits a two-storey colonial house with an iron stairway designed by Gustave Eiffel. Try the beef steaks served on a hot stone or one of the other sizzling meat dishes. Price range - meal for two without drinks approx US $15–$25 Address: Calle Zela 210 – 212. Tel: 54-20-6020 (reservations recommended)

El Turko II With high ceilings and polished wooden floors, El Turko II is a highly recommended Middle Eastern restaurant. Sizzling platters of kebabs and other meat, as well as vegetarian specialties, are served in surroundings worthy of an art gallery. Just down the road you"ll find the slightly smaller and marginally cheaper El Turko I. Open daily from 8.00am – midnight. Price range - meal for two without drinks approx US $10-$25 Address: Av. San Francisco 315. Tel: 54-21-5729

Sol de Mayo Just a five minute taxi ride from the center in the residential neighborhood of Yanahuara, Sol de Mayo is a favorite amongst the locals. With intimate tables set around a pretty courtyard, as well as indoor dining rooms, it serves Peruvian specialties, including a great chicharron de chancho (fried pork), fresh shellfish and ceviche. They also mix excellent pisco sours. Price range - meal for two without drinks approx US $15-$25 Address: Jerusalen 207, Yanahuara, just out of the center. Tel: 54-25-4148