National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca | Arequipa

National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca | Arequipa

17 March 2023

Arequipa has innumerable tourist places. One of the best is the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, which this year celebrates its 39th anniversary as a Protected Natural Area. It is appreciated and cared for by locals and tourists. It presents an extreme biodiversity and provides environmental services to more than a million people in the country. Its beauty also places it as an important destination close to the White City.


It was created in 1979 to guarantee the protection of the vicuñas that inhabit the area. It has an area of 366,936 hectares. It is home to the Misti, Chachani, Pichupichu and Ubinas volcanoes, as well as the Puruña Stone Forest. Between the mountains, there are high Andean plains where vicuñas, alpacas, llamas and guanacos coexist. The reserve also has beautiful lagoons and wetlands, habitat for birds such as flamingos and Andean ducks.


Thanks to the cloudless sky, at night you can admire stars and constellations all year round.



Protect habitats that offer optimal conditions for the development of populations of vicuña, taruca, common parihuana, Andean parihuana and James parihuana. Protect queñual forests.



On August 9, 1979, by Supreme Decree No. 070-79-AA.



In the departments of Arequipa and Moquegua, in the provinces of Arequipa, Caylloma and General Sánchez.



366,936.00 hectares.


It can be seen

Flora and fauna of the place. Toccra Interpretation Center. Pillones stone forest. Imata stone forest. Salinas Lagoon.


National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca

This place works as a water processing reserve, which is used in agriculture, energy, industry and also for domestic use in nearby communities. This is how it directly benefits the economy of the region. In addition, it is the home of protection of one of the most emblematic species of the country: the vicuña. More than 12,000 live on the reservation. It also includes a territory where more than 13 communities live, whose activities are mainly based on agriculture. Thanks to them, travelers can carry out experiential tourism and learn about their ways of life.


What can you find in the reserve?

Salinas and Aguada Blanca extends over more than 360,000 hectares, according to Sernanp. Much of its area also covers the department of Moquegua. Its main objective is to provide optimal environmental conditions for the populations of vicuña, the common parihuana, the Andean parihuana and the James parihuana to live, through the protection of the queñal forests. These are the populations that are most in danger.


In addition to the fauna and flora of the place, you will be able to see several volcanoes such as Misti, Ubinas, Pichupichu and Chachani. You can also see the snow-capped mountains of Huarancante and Chuccura, along with several lagoons and plains. The rock formations with curious figures embellish the landscape, while the culture and experiential tourism in the nearby communities will enrich your trip with traditions and adventures.


A natural spectacle

One of the main activities is the observation of native species. There are about 158 species of birds, 37 species of mammals, 3 fish and 4 amphibians. The guanaco, the alpaca and the llama are also noted on the tour, as well as the puma and the Andean cat. The birds that can be seen the most are the Andean goose (the most numerous), the Andean duck and, of course, the parihuanas. Salinas y Aguada Blanca is the perfect ecosystem for more than 358 species of plants to develop in the best way, among which the shrubs and herbaceous ones stand out.


In this natural reserve you can find two control points: the Interpretation Center and the Salinas Huito y Cañahuas post. In them there are also two viewpoints, from which you can observe the landscape in all its splendor and take all the pictures you want. To tour the reserve you must be accompanied by an authorized tour guide and navigate the network of official paths.


Here you will be able to appreciate the diverse ecosystem in the great network of streams and rivers within the reserve. Nearby you can practice adventure sports such as authorized fishing, mountain biking or other trekking routes in areas that exceed 5000 meters of altitude.


#Take note

Through the contour circuits you can visit other tourist spots, such as the Pampa del Confital, the Laguna del Indio, the cave paintings of Sumbay, the rock formations of Mauca-Arequipa, among others. If you want to cool off and take advantage of the medicinal properties, visit the Umalaso hot springs.


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).


Tarucas (Hippocamelus antisensis), vizcachas (Lagidium peruanum), puma (Puma concolor), Andean cat (Oreailurus jacobita), the osjollo (Oncifelis colocolo) and the Andean fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus) have also been recorded. Among the resident birds, the huallata or Andean goose (Chloephaga melanoptera) stands out for its abundance, the Andean 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 puna pajonal or high Andean grassland, the desert scrub, the bofedales and the queñual.


The Vicuñas

At 4,000 meters above sea level, in the Andes Mountains, the vicuña habitat extends, in a spectacular setting of large plains surrounded by important volcanoes such as Ampato (6,310 m), Sabancaya (5,076) and the Hualca Hualca (6,025), the Huarancante and Chucura with more than 5,200 meters.


The vicuña is the animal species that produces the finest fiber in the world, making it possible to obtain lightweight, incredibly soft, warm and comfortable clothing.


From May 15 to November 15 of each year, the vicuñas are captured and sheared by the community members for 50 chakus, to avoid predation and poaching by hunters, who used the quality of their fiber for commercial purposes.


There are five chakus called ecotourism chakus, which are attended by national and foreign tourists, who actively participate in the entire shearing process.


This South American camelid, symbol of the animal kingdom of our national coat of arms of Peru, is appreciated not only for its valuable fiber, but also for its beauty.



It registers very low average temperatures that oscillate 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 almost the whole year there are frosts that can reach -20 ° C.


Tourist Routes

The Reserve has a network of roads that allow access to a large part of the protected natural area, such as the circuit around it where you can appreciate its main attractions. 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 and extensive bofedales, volcanic craters like Chucura and hot springs like those of Umalaso.


Likewise, within the area you can practice adventure sports such as trout fishing in the authorized season, mountaineering in the spectacular volcanoes, cycling and hiking.


In the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, integrated into the Colca and Valley of the Volcanoes circuit, included in Law 24521 that creates the Autonomous Authority of Colca and Annexes (AUTOCOLCA), we find around 14,700 vicuñas, 400,000 alpacas, 6 thousand llamas, 300 guanacos.


What is the best time to travel?

As we told you, the weather can be very cold. If you want to avoid the rainy season, do not travel between January and March. In those months, 65% of annual rainfall occurs. At night, frost can cause the weather to drop to 20 degrees below zero. However, tours during the night or early morning are not authorized and camping areas are minimal. Consult them with the guide who accompanies you.


This will be a dream trip. In addition, in Arequipa you will find several other attractions. These include: the Toro Muerto Petroglyphs, the Añashuasyco quarries, the Historic Center, the Colca valley and canyon, the Camaná beach circuit, the Inka Port and more. If you want to know other tourist destinations in Peru, visit our travel blog. There you will find all kinds of guides, tips, news, events and articles of interest so that you can prepare your next getaway.


How to get to the Salinas and Aguada Blanca Reserve?

The bus ticket from Lima to Arequipa costs between 50 and 95 soles at Travel time is approximately 16 hours. Upon reaching the city center, you must take a taxi to the Chiguata district. The road to there is paved and they will charge you a maximum of 15 soles for the 25 km traveled.


This small district is the starting point for a hiking route to the Salinas Lagoon, although you can also travel by car. It will take between an hour and a half to 2 and a half hours on foot, depending on the speed of your group. Don't worry, the route is easy so it is not necessary to have great physical resistance. Of course, remember to bring a light snack, windbreaker jackets and sweaters, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the weather.


What we do recommend is correct acclimatization upon arrival in Arequipa, since the reserve is located at more than 3,500 meters above sea level. If you are going to visit the place until sunset, keep in mind that the average annual temperatures are between -2 and 8 degrees. In winter they can reach -20 degrees when night falls. Although the days are very sunny, do not forget your warm clothes.


The best destinations in Perú

Once you decide to visit Palccoyo Mountain, you could add the best destinations to combine the history and experience for your trip to Peru. Peru offers the most beautiful destinations, culture and naturals. we recommend to extend your holidays and choose these best destinations and prepare your itinerary:

Best Peru Treks


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