Birdwatching in Arequipa and Colca Valley
Arequipa has a special attraction for naturalists,
as it enables visitors to enter some of the most spectacular
areas of southern Peru. The National Sanctuary of
the Mejía Lakes is made up of floodlands covered
with swamp-like vegetation and totora reeds which serve as
a haven and a resting place for dozens of resident and migratory
The Salinas & Aguada Blanca Reserve
is an ideal spot for watching waterfowl, vicuña herds
and occasionally guanacos (Lama guanicoe). The region features
sweeping high-Andean meadows, marshlands and flooded areas
with peculiar geological formations created by wind erosion
(the Maucarquipa and Puruña stone formations).
The area, which is fringed by a vast high Andean plain, is
split by the Colca River. The bird species
in the valley are similar to species that inhabit steppes
elsewhere in the Peruvian highlands. However, the cropfields
and steep cliffs afford the possibility of sighting fascinating
species not to be found anywhere else, such as the majestic
Andean condor, the largest bird on Earth
capable of flight, which is found in the part of the valley
called the Cruz del Condor (Condor Cross)
, near the village of Cabanaconde.
climate is dry and balmy, sunny by day and frigid at night,
with average annual temperatures of 20°C. The best time
of year for birdwatching in the Mejía Lakes area is
in summer in the Southern Hemisphere (from January to March).
Mejía Lakes lie 150 km or two hours from Arequipa,
south of the Tambo River delta. Access to Salinas & Aguada
Blanca is via the dirt roads that run from Arequipa to the
Colca Valley (150 km or three hours) or the city of Puno.
The Puno route is best, running through a vast queñual
forest (Chiguata, 3,200 masl) and continues on to the vast
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for your trip to Peru, as well as other important issues in
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