capital of La Unión province, time goes by slowly, as though it were spellbound by the numerous natural attractions surrounding the town, located at 379 kilometers from the "White City" of Arequipa and at 2,683 m.a.s.l.
Its narrow streets tempt to walk by the old buildings of the quiet town, a preamble of the stunning lakes, thermal baths, waterfalls and mysterious stone, puya and cactus forests, which stand out in the surroundings. The following places may be visited:
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Concepción:
It has a colonial style and shows typical characteristics of the province churches: simple design, arches of half point with attached pilasters, a high altar made of golden bread ("pan de oro") and thick walls of adobe. It is more than 170 years old and shelters valuable pictures of the Arequipa's school.
Campanario de Santa Ana:
Located at the exit of Cotahuasi's town. It is the ideal place to fully admire this provincial capital as well as the nearby Chaquicocha lake.
From its top you may enjoy a panoramic scene of the town and valley. It is located at one hour from Cotahuasi
and during the adventure sports festivals; it is the departure point of seasoned "parapente" and "ala delta" trainees.
It extends like a water snake, a powerful snake able to bore through mountains and hills with infinite persistence and tireless spirit to make its way between the deep walls and fertile valleys of the Cotahuasi canyon,
considered the deepest canyon all over the world.
The Cotahuasi canyon,
which extends from the foothills of the Solimana snowcapped mountain until the confluence of the Ocoña River, has 3,535 meters deep in the Ninacocha sector, nearby the Quechualla town, being the deepest part of a wonderful trip where you can even enjoy lofty lakes, revitalizing thermo medicinal waters, white glaciers and a great variety of flora and fauna.
Declared as Touristic Reserve Zone on March 3rd, 1988, in the surrounding areas of the canyon you can find churches, graves and vast terraces areas (cultivation areas in the hillsides) of pre-Hispanic origin, which are a tangible demonstration of diligence and inventiveness of old Peruvians, in order to obtain the greatest quantity of cultivable land.
Likewise, due to its rough and beautiful geography, it has been turned into an ideal destination to practice adventure sports. A festival of mountain biking, rafting, free flight, rock climbing and trekking is carried out every year.
Catarata de Sipia:
It is an impressive waterfall of 150 meters high. It is the highest all over the canyon and allows appreciating the river strength and depth of the geological fault in their real magnitude. This waterfall is located three hours (on foot) from the Cotahuasi
town, a trip that may take half time if you travel by combi until the hanging bridge Cuyao, where the road ends. From this point, you can only continue on foot or riding a donkey.
The path is amazing and in some stretches it borders the Cotahuasi
River. In general, the area is dry and paved, having to go up some slopes (not so steep).
During the journey, there is a second hanging bridge that, like the first one, is used to cross the Cotahuasi
riverbed. Along the walk, it is common to find some mule drivers coming from the communities surrounding the canyon.
It is a mysterious stone forest formed by the erosion of rains and winds. The strange figures spread in an area of 5 square kilometers. It is located at the Huaynacotas district, almost 17 kilometers from the Cotahuasi
town, approximately 4,200 m.a.s.l.
Baños termales de Luicho:
The temperatures of its waters - rising from the hill bearing the same name - range from 33° to 38° grades centigrade. Due to its healing qualities, they are recommended for patients suffering from rheumatism, arthritis and muscular atrophies, among others. A few kilometers away, you can find the Supaycanchis, Purahuasi y Huacchar ruins.
Bosque de Puyas:
Near the Lauripampa town, in the Puyca district and more than four hours away from the provincial capital, there is an important number of "puyas" (Puya Raimondi), belonging to the bromeliacea family and considered the biggest inflorescence in the world. It may reach 10 meters and flower every 80 years.
In danger of extinction, only grow in the High Andean Areas; in case of Lauripampa they grow at approximately 4,000 m.a.s.l. Additionally, in the area, you can walk by graves, Aimaran mummies and an impressive cultivation terrace system of wari and inca origin. The Maukallacta ruins stand out.
Bosque de Cactus Gigantes de Judío Pampa:
These are some strange species of cactus that reach up to 13 meters high, which have established a mutual dependence with a kind of bats that belong to the ecosystem. The forest is located at the Quechualla district (1,980 m.a.s.l.) known for its vineyards and its fruit production. It can be reached after a five-hour walk from Cotahuasi.
You should take the path to Sipia.
It is one of the most traditional towns of La Unión province. Most houses still maintain their straw roof. From here, you can enjoy an excellent sight of the Solimana and Firura snowcapped mountains. It is located at 3,417 m.a.s.l and it may take 8 hours to reach it riding a donkey from Cotahuasi.
It is a district located two hours away from Cotahuasi if you travel by combi It has an impressive cultivation terraces system, pre-Inca ruins, Aimaran mummies and beautiful waterfalls.