Always bring a jacket with you, or something to cover yourself, because sunny or grey, the air is dry and cold. Also good hiking boots, or at least comfortable for walking.
If coming for the nordic areas, the coldness will be ridiculous for you, so disregard this message :-) There are several drugstores in Arequipa that sells anything at a good price. Also bring sunscreen and balms for your skin and lips (because the weather is really dry and some white skins will tend to get scamous and drier). Arequipa is a cheap city, and if you forget something, you'd probably find another similar in the markets or drugstore at a reasonable price.
Colca Canyon is arguably the deepest canyon in the world. At the bottom you can find a river .
If you arrive early enough, you might be able to spot condors which are the largest flying bird on earth, although you are not always guaranteed to see any.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
In the colonial days, rich Spanish colonialists would send their 2nd oldest daughter here to be nuns. Each nun would come with a huge dowry which would be used to build a house within the walls of the monastery and also used to fund a servant, living expenses and any creature comforts that they required.
In 1822, Peru became independent from Spain and in the late nineteenth century, a law was put into place that prevented the monastery from accepting only rich nuns. As a result, a there was a huge influx of poorer Indian nuns (upto 400) . The monastery thus stopped receiving funding - as a result, the active monastery has been scaled down and the rest has been opened up for tourists. The most interesting part of the monastery was the brilliant blue walls contrasting with the rich red walls.
The White City of Arequipa
Many tourists in Peru do the traditional route of Lima-Cusco-Machu Picchu and then head home. If you have a bit more time, a visit to Arequipa and the nearby Colca Canyon is certainly worth the effort for a few very good reasons. For starters, the dramatic altitude shift when going from Lima to the over 11,500 foot city of Cusco can be too much for some visitors. Going from the sea-level Lima to a more reasonable 7500 feet (2300 meters) in Arequipa allows your body to adjust slowly to the increasing altitude and thinner air.
The city of Arequipa is actually the second largest city in Peru and the largest between Lima and Santiago, Chile. The town was once an Aymara Indian and Incan village, until Francisco Pizarro and the Spaniards arrived in 1540. The architectural remnants of the Spanish conquest are beautifully evident in the white sillar stone that was used to build the various churches, courtyards and monasteries of Arequipa.
Another great thing about Arequipa is its location in a valley alongside the River Chili and surrounded by snow covered peaks such as the Misti Volcano, and the Chachani and Pichu Pichu Mountains.
I would suggest one full, uninterrupted day to explore the museums, churches and architecture of Arequipa and an additional two days to explore the Colca Canyon. While Arequipa has an abundance of restaurants and accommodations, the canyon would be best appreciated by staying overnight in one of the local villages.
One thing you won't find on this page is information on visiting Museo Santuarias de Andino, which is best known as the resting place of "Juanita" a young Inca girl who was apparently sacrificed to appease the gods over 500 years ago. Her body was found on Mt. Ampato in 1995 by a local climber and anthropologist Johan Reinhard. Unfortunately, an American from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. did some tests on the case in which Juanita is stored and discovered some humidity, so she was not on display and the museum was closed when we attempted to visit.