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Planning your trip to Peru's Colca Valley

TravelTourism and LeisureLos Angeles International AirportPersonal ServiceAmerican AirlinesABBA (music group)Human Interest

THE BEST WAY TO AREQUIPA, PERU

From LAX, American Airlines and LAN offer connecting service (change of plane) to Arequipa via Lima, Peru. For a more economical option, consider booking your first leg from LAX to Lima, then booking a separate connection on StarPeru, the regional low-cost airline. Star Peru operates flights between Lima and Arequipa daily.

TELEPHONES

To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 51 (country code for Peru) and the local number.

WHERE TO STAY

Casa Arequipa, 409 Avenida Lima, Arequipa; 54-284219, http://www.arequipacasa.com. Spic-and-span B&B with modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi and cable, plus an extremely attentive staff. Doubles from $60.

Casa Andina Private Collection, 403 Calle Ugarte, Arequipa; 511-213-9739, http://www.casa-andina.com. If you're looking for central lodgings that combine history and the boutique hotel experience, this restored colonial compound —a national historic monument—is your best bet. Doubles from $144 a night.

Casa Andina Classic—Colca, Huayna Capac, Chivay; 511-213-9739, http://www.casa-andina.com. Centrally located in Chivay, the biggest village on the rim of Colca Canyon and a popular hub for trekkers. Stylishly rustic lodgings in small cabins and a lovely garden. Doubles from $67.

Las Casitas del Colca, Parque Curiña, Yanque; (800) 237-1236 in U.S., http://www.lascasitasdelcolca.com. Unabashed luxury is the name of the game. Spread across a park-like compound on the rim of the canyon, 20 suites are housed in secluded casitas. A state-of-the-art spa and a full catalog of outdoor activities are at guests' disposal Rooms from $495 a night, including transportation from Arequipa.

WHERE TO EAT

La Capitana, 209 Calle Los Arces, Cayma. Tucked in a rambling courtyard in a quiet, semi-suburban neighborhood, this casual lunch spot is a local favorite. The taxi ride from central Arequipa is about 10 minutes, but plan to get there early in the afternoon to be assured of a seat and a chance at the daily specials. Lunches average $3-$7.

La Nueva Palomino, 122 Leoncio Prado, Arequipa. The portions at this popular picanteria are as generous as the prices are cheap. For the full experience, order a vaso of chicha de jora and the Americano, a combination platter that includes a thick, creamy square of potato gratin, a tart onion salad and a rich, slow-cooked slab of pork. Prices from $5.

GUIDES

Arturo Carlos Muñoa Guillen, carlitos.arequipa.peru@gmail.com. A college graduate with a degree in tourism, Muñoa Guillen spent four years working for the outfitter Land Adventures before striking out on his own early this year. He is warm and enthusiastic, speaks fluent English and Spanish and intermediate German, has a close relationship with local families in Colca Canyon, and a wealth of knowledge about the region's flora and fauna (not to mention the lyrics to the entire ABBA catalogue).

Land Adventures, 118-B Santa Catalina, Arequipa; 54-204872, http://www.landadventures.net. Reasonably priced and devoted to sustainable tourism, this outfit employs experienced guides and offers a wide range of tours and treks in the Arequipa region and beyond. Colca Canyon treks begin at $200 a person, including transportation, lodging and food.

Naturaleza Activa, 211 Santa Catalina, Arequipa; 54-695793, naturaleza@yahoo.com. Although relatively new to town, this agency, which specializes in climbing and mountain bike tours, as well as standard treks, has been well received.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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