Altitude: 2,180 meters (7,107 ft) Population: 6,600 Phone Code: 053
Torata is a small town with several fascinating sites. Iglesia de San AgustÃn, a beautiful, polished-granite temple, was built between 1652-1691. An underground tunnel (now unused) leads to old catacombs that are older than the church, situated beneath the modern-day police station across the street. The exact purpose of these is unknown: perhaps they were used as monksâ€™ cells when the Spaniards first occupied the area, or perhaps they were used to torture the indigenous who refused to convert to Christianity.
On the outskirts of town are several grist-stone mills dating from the 18th century. Some are still in use, grinding the grains for Torataâ€™s famous breads. Cataratas de Mollesaja, a 150-meter (489-ft) tall waterfall nestled in a forest, is a 25-minute walk from Torata. This is said to be the fifth-largest cascade in Peru.
Ten kilometers (6 mi) beyond Torata is the archaeological site Camata, also called Pampa Colorada. These ruins from the EstaquiÃ±a culture have two sectors and an Inca tambo. Daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Entry: $1.50, student/retiree $0.40).
Other archaeological sites near Torata are Cerro BaÃºl (7.5 km / 4.6 mi south), Sabaya and Torata Alta.
The only place to stay in Torata is the Complejo TurÃstico, set on a natural viewpoint of the valley. It has cabins, camping, internet, restaurant and play areas for the kids (1 km / 0.6 mi southwest of town. Tel: 792-934).
Torata has a cooler climate than Moquegua. December-March is the rainy season; the other months are dry. The villageâ€™s patron saint, the Virgen de la Candelaria, is fÃªted February 2, May 1 and December 18. Torata has a tourism office: Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Ca. Torata 53, Plaza de Armas. Tel: 476-053/476-073, URL: www.torataturistica.com.
Torota is 24 kilometers (15 mi) northeast of Moquegua. From Moquegua, minibuses heading to Torata depart near the stadium on Avenida Balta, about 0.5 kilometers east of the market (40 min, $1.25). To return to Arequipa, catch the minibus from Torataâ€™s Plaza de Armas. Some of these vans continue to Otora, where you can hop off at Camata ($2).
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