Aguada Blanca and Salinas National Reserve is distinguished by the presence of the majestic Ubinas, Pichupichu, Misti and Chachani volcanoes in the southwestern part, and by the snow-capped Chuccura and Huarancante on the north side.
The high Andean plains, dotted with beautiful lagoons and wetlands, complete the icy landscape of most of the territory inhabited mainly by South American camelids and by a large number of terrestrial and aquatic birds, as certified by its designation as a RAMSAR site since 2003.
It was initially conceived as a place for the protection of vicuñas, but today it also represents the main water reserve in the city of Arequipa and its surroundings.
This unique ecosystem provides a valuable and irreplaceable environmental service: the winds that come from the Puno-Bolivian highlands cause rains, snows and hail, between October and April, which are retained by the yaretales, queñuales, pajonales and tolares, storing them in the wetlands, lagoons and in the subsoil. From there it is released slowly throughout the year, thereby regulating the hydrological cycle, for the benefit of the communities.
Flora and fauna
In the Reserve there are 37 species of mammals and 158 of birds. The presence of 5 species of reptiles, 4 of amphibians and 3 of fish has also been reported. The characteristic herbivores of the typical fauna of the puna are the South American camelids: Llama (Lama glama), alpaca (Lama pacos), vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) and guanaco (Lama guanicoe).
There are also tarucas (Hippocamelus antisensis), vizcachas (Lagidium peruanum), puma (Puma concolor), Andean cat (Oreailurus jacobita), the osjollo (Oncifelis colocolo) and the Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus). Among the resident birds, the huallata or Andean goose (Chloephaga melanoptera) stands out for its abundance, the mountain duck (Anas specularioides alticola) and the flamingos or parihuanas (Phoenicoparrus jamesi, P. andinus and Phoenicopterus chilensis)
The flora is basically made up of 358 species of plants, among which the herbaceous and shrub species stand out. Among the main plant associations are the high Andean highland grassland, the desert scrub, the bofedales and the queñual.
Very low average temperatures are recorded, ranging between 2 ° and 8 ° C. It presents annual precipitation averages of 200 to 600 mm, mainly from January to March, a period in which 65% of the rains fall. During most of the year there are frosts that can reach -20 ° C.
The Aguada Blanca and Salinas National Reserve has a network of roads that allow access to a large part of the protected natural area, as well as the circuit around it where its main attractions can be appreciated. These are: the Chachani, Misti, Pichu Pichu and Ubinas volcanoes, the Salinas lagoon, the Pampa del Confital, the rock formations of Mauca-Arequipa or those of Pillones and Puruña in Pampa Cañahuas, the Laguna del Indio, the rock paintings of Sumbay, several extensive wetlands, volcanic craters like Chucura and hot springs like Umalaso.
Likewise, within the area you can practice adventure sports such as trout fishing in authorized times, mountaineering in the spectacular volcanoes, cycling and hiking.