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Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca - National Park Colca Canyon - Peru

The 366,936-hectares (906,718-ac) Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca preserves diverse vegetation and wildlife, earning it a Ramsar desination in 2003. The altiplano landscape is punctuated by wetlands, lagoons and the majestic volcanoes of Ubinas, Pichupichu, Misti and Chachani to the southwest, and Chuccura and Huarancante to the north. Its average altitude is 4,300 meters (14,104 ft).


Salinas y Aguada Blanca, originally a separate reserve, is home to a large vicu├▒a population. The other South American camelids are also present: llama, alpaca and guanaco. The park has a total of 37 species of mammals, including north Andean deer, viscacha, puma, Andean mountain cat, pampas cat and Andean fox, as well as reptiles, amphibians and fish. The 158 resident birds include Andean goose, Andean crested duck and three varieties of flamingos. Over 350 floral species are present.


A large network of roads permits visitors to access much of the park, including the volcanoes, Chucura crater, Umalaso hot springs, Pampa del Confital, Laguna de Salinas and Laguna del Indio. Lookout points at the Centro de Interpretaci├│n en Tocra, and the Salinas Huito and Ca├▒ahuas control posts allow for landscape viewing. Other points of interest are bizarre rock formations at Pillones y Puru├▒a in Pampa Ca├▒ahuas and at Mauca-Arequipa, and ancient rock paintings at Sumbay.


Besides birdwatching, other activities are trout fishing (in season), mountain climbing, trekking and mountain biking. The park experiences rains, hail and snow October-April.


More information about the reserve may be obtained from the Sernanp national park office in Arequipa (Urb Primavera Los Jazmines 119, Yanahuara. Tel: 054-257-461, E-mail:




vicu├▒a (Vicugna vicugna)

llama (Lama glama)

alpaca (Lama pacos)

guanaco (Lama guanicoe)

north Andean deer (taruca, Hippocamelus antisensis)

viscacha (Lagidium peruanum)

puma (Puma concolor)

Andean mountain cat (gato andino, Oreailurus jacobita)

pampas cat (osjollo, Oncifelis colocolo)

Andean fox (zorro andino, Pseudalopex culpaeus)

Andean goose (huallata, Chloephaga melanoptera)

Andean crested duck (pato cordillerano, Anas specularioides alticola)

three varieties of flamingos (parihuanas, Phoenicoparrus jamesi, P. andinus y Phoenicopterus chilensis).


35 kilometers / 21.5 miles northeast of Arequipa

Colca Canyon, Peru

National Park

Getting There
No public transportation arrives to the park. You will need your own vehicle. Most travelers arrive on tour. Tours going to Colca Canyon pass through part of the park.

Price Description: Entry: $1.50.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring: Warm clothing (jacket, sweater, hat, gloves); sun protection (sun block, sunglasses, lip protector); good hiking boots; food and drink (water; especially high-energy snacks and a thermos of hot drink)

Currencies accepted
Peruvian nuevo sol

Contact Information:

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

30 May 2012

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