Andagua volcanoes valley is located at 377 kilometers from Arequipa, between the Coropuna and Sabancaya volcanoes. Andahua It’s known locally as the “Valley of the Volcanoes”. The field contains scoria cones and lava flows, some of which are very young and from historic eruptions.
The Volcanoes Valley
The residents are very friendly, and virtually everyone you meet will at least offer a pleasant greeting or, more often, stop to chat for a bit. Because the town is so far from main tourist routes, no English is spoken. As such at least a bit of Spanish language skill will be helpful when visiting the area.
It is a geologic formation of the Quaternary Age, beautiful landscape with more than 80 volcanos all without activity, with geothermal activity. The arid and desertic landscape of the Andagua valley looks like a lunar landscape.
In the low part of the valley are located the Chachas and Mamacocha lagoons, and they are joined with the Colca Canyon.
Where is It?
The Valley of the Volcanoes is also known as Andagua Valley, located in the region of Arequipa, Castilla Alta province, between 4,300 and 1,350 MASL. Andahua is situated at 315 km from Arequipa by road, crossing the Majes and Viraco Valleys or 387 km by road crossing Chivay, the Colca Valley and Caylloma.
It has 269 flora species comprising herbs, bushes and trees, 243 wild and 26 cultivated. There are 35 endemic species (10 cacti); 7 endangered cacti; 2 vulnerable; 1 rare, the lloque (Kageneckia lanceolata); 4 out of danger and 61 useful species, among which stand out medicinal herbs, plants for house building and for craft works, as well as for ornamental and mystical purposes.
The Volcanoes Valley has 115 bird species (60 genres and 27 families); 24 mammal species (20 genres and 12 families): 3 reptiles (3 genres and 3 families) and 2 amphibians (2 genres and 2 families) have been registered.
The enigmatic otter (nutria) of the Lontra genre, locally known as huallaque, with a small population in the Mamacocha Lagoon, is featured among the remarkable species living in that zone.
Among the artiodactyla stand out the guanacos and two deer species. Bats, particularly around Mamacocha, exhibit one of the thickest densities of Arequipa, with seven species.
The most remarkable birds are the Andean Condor, seven pigeon species and eight hummingbirds, the dipper blackbird and the Peruvian woodpecker.
Fresh water shrimps, atherines and trouts are found in the Colca River.
Andagua is strategically located in the mid center of the valley, where the pedestrian or livestock roads and the roadways to Arequipa via Viraco and Majes, or via Caylloma and Colca converge, as well as the roadways to Chachas, Ayo and the planned highway to Huambo (Colca Canyon) a future important tourist center that is currently being implemented.
The ruins of Antaymarca, an interesting archaeological site with underground tombs can be visited towards the south; as well as the Kanalla-Mauras volcano, where a bull-ring has been built inside its crater; the Soporo mirador, from where it is possible to watch a suite of volcanoes: the Chilcayoc, the Jechapita and big lava tongues, the Chachas Lagoon and the Chila mountain range can also be observed.
Orcopampa (3,900 meters above sea level) is the most important commercial and mining center in the zone; it is surrounded by picturesque towns like Chilcaimarca, Chapacoco, Tintaymarca, Huilluco, the thermal baths of Huancarama and the spectacular Panahua ravine, with waterfalls frozen most part of the year.
The Orcopampa mine has implemented an interesting ecological park with vegetation and bird species, camelids and local deer, and there is also a small Municipal recreational lagoon.
Chachas is a picturesque agricultural area located over 3,000 meters above sea level.
The village has a beautiful church on the shore of a lagoon, whose waters flow underground because the exit was covered by lava from successive eruptions, and they surface again 17 km to the south, in the Mamacocha Lagoon.
A beautiful waterfall located at 9 kilometers from the town, along the way you will pass through a bridge and then hike for around 20 minutes.
Ayo is a small village located at 1990 meters above sea level at one hour and a half from Andahua.
The Ayo valley offers fruit plants (avocados, peaches, apples, figs, grapes, quinces) maize, potatoes and broad beans, wines, piscos and grape hard liquors.
It is surrounded by wild vegetation with very interesting species like “jarilla”, used in craft works, huarango (Prosopis pallida) and carrizo (Arundo donax).
The wild vegetation consists mostly of column shoot cacti in a desert area reaching the Colca Canyon in the deepest zone.
The main attraction of the region is the Mamacocha Lagoon, with crystalline waters of a deep blue color, fed by the Andahua river that is lost after the Chachas Lagoon. It is an oasis with a riparian vegetation dominated by willows, molles, carrizo and fig trees. Cacti and diverse bushes can be observed on the slopes and the lagoon is the habitat for atherines and a small population of otters known as huallaques, of a special scientific interest.
The andenerías (andean terraces) of Jello Jello, presumably the most important of the zone, and many remains of the ancient inhabitants are found before arriving at Ayo.
Located at 3,850 MASL, this town still preserves its cobblestoned streets and its traditional thatch-roof houses and has become a tourist center. Chilcaymarca has a lookout with a great and ample view, interesting rock formations at Puca Sala and neighboring towns such as Chapacoco and Huilluco that boast excellent craft workers, in particular potters, with ancient traditions.
Huanacaure Twin Volcanoes:
The twin volcanoes are located in the northside at 1 kilometer from Andagua.
Awesome waterfalls located at 3 kilometers from Andagua plaza de armas, It takes 2 hours by foot to arrive to Shanquillay.
Kanalla Mauras Volcano:
Located at 5 kilometers from Andahua main square at one hour walking. On it’s dome of the crater locals has implemented a “Plaza de toros” (bull arena), which revives with “fiesta” and color every on the town festivities.
Located on the road to Ayo at 2.3 kilometers from Andagua. This citadel was built with stones from the volcano Ayapucara. In Antaymarca we can find: tombs, chullpas, viewpoints, etc.
Mirador de Ucuya:
Located at 5 kilometers from Andagua, this is an ideal place for watching the Andagua village, Chachas lagoon, Jechapita, Chilacayoc and Kanalla Mauras volcanoes and Chila mountain range.
Arequipa – Colca Canyon – Volcanoes Valley
This route is advisable for going to the Valley of the Volcanoes, Salinas National Reserve and Aguada Blanca and the Colca Canyon; additionally it helps in adapting to the altitude, most of all if one spends the night in the Colca Valley.
The road goes through Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve and the Cañahua and Toccra pampas, where it is possible to stop for watching the rupestrian paintings of Sumbay, about 4,000 years old. Vicuñas, llamas and alpacas can be seen along the way, as well as some wetlands with abundant high-Andean birds.
The main volcanoes of the region: Misti, Ubinas, Chucura and Chila mountain range, where Mismi, Hualca-Hualca, Sabancaya, Ampato and Chachani are located, are seen when passing by Patapampa (4,800 meters above sea level). The journey takes about 160 km from Arequipa to Chivay, capital of the Colca Valley.
Then we will continue to the Valley of the Volcanoes, leaving Chivay gopint to Sibayo and passing along the village of Tuti, 20 km away. Another possibility is passing Tuti and taking a detour along Ran Ran in the direction of the Nevado Mismi, whose peak is the origin of the Amazon River. Even though this is a shorter route.
From there it goes on towards Caylloma and joins the Caylloma-Arcata road in the vicinity of the Caylloma mine.
Sibayo (3,800 meters above sea level) is an interesting camelids breeding zone, apart from being the best preserved village of the Colca Valley, with its houses built from river rocks, boulders of many colors, thatched roofs and a beautiful colonial church.
Even if the main square and the city hall have been modernized, the architectural style of the village has been preserved.
This route takes travellers towards extensive wetlands, where numerous herds of llamas and alpacas and even some wild vicuñas may be seen.
Before crossing the bridge that takes to the village of Caylloma there is a detour to the right that crosses the Apurímac River and leads to the Suykutambo mine.
The road goes on along a beautiful canyon up to near Yauri, Espinar, the zone where the Tintaya copper mine operates. On the Apurímac banks there are numerous large, round-shaped rocks or the remains of several trapiches, the name given to the colonial mills they used to crush the minerals.
Caylloma (4,319 meters above sea level), at 90 km from Sibayo, was a very important center due to the mining activity and became the capital of the Province of Caylloma for some time.
Leaving the Caylloma mine, the Nevado Mismi (6,037 meters above sea level) may be seen in the vicinity of the Huarharco River. The road runs along the mountain range, between 4,400 and 4,800 meters above sea level, and the typical altiplano landscape, many llamas and alpacas herds, wild vicuñas, vizcachas and some ducks in wetlands or bofedales and small lagoons appear.
Then one takes the detour towards the new Ares gold mine and the Carhuacocha Lagoon is seen below. At a short distance from the detour one can take the road to the left, leading to Orcopampa. Along the right road, one can reach Ayacucho going in the direction of the Arcata mine, which produces silver in good quantities.
After 195 km from Chivay and descending from 4,500 to 3,800 meters above sea level (about six hours journey) we arrive to Orcopampa, where the Valley of the Volcanoes starts. The road passes along Huancarama, where there are comforting thermal baths.
The village of Andahua is 387 km from Arequipa via Chivay and the journey takes about nine hours. If one prefers, it is possible to travel directly from Arequipa to Sibayo, shortening the journey in about 50 km.
Orcopampa – Majes Valley – Arequipa
You can take this route to wander around the picturesque villages of Viraco, Tipan and Pampacolca, and to visit the Majes Valley and its many tourist attractions.
The route passes near to Coropuna volcano at 4,900 meters above sea level to descend to the picturesque villages of Machaguay, Viraco and Tipan, located between 3,600 and 3,200 meters above sea level and from where there are spectacular countryside views.
It is recommeded to visit Pampacolca and the center of Maucallacta, where the most important Inca remains of the region.
The route will pass along Ongoro, a good place for canoeing, to reach the Majes Valley. It is advisable to spend the night in any of the Majes Valley hotels and visit the wine and pisco wineries of the region, and, during non-restriction periods, savor the extraordinary shrimps of the Majes river.
You can visit Querullpa, where there are prehistoric animal traces and then go on to Toro Muerto, an important archaeological site with more than 6,000 petroglyphs.
The journey to Arequipa passes along the Majes irrigation and crosses the Siguas and Vítor Valleys; it is possible, depending on the available time, to visit any of the colonial time wineries of wines and piscos.
The village of Andahua is about 340 km from Arequipa, which takes around 7 to 8 hours by car.