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Peru 2025

The Alpine Garden Society is organizing a once in a lifetime tour to Southern Peru, in the mountains around Arequipa, the country's second-largest city. During the tour, we will visit the Colca Canyon and the unexplored high Andes of Moquegua.

This tour is limited to 20 people and will be led by Harry Jans, a well-known and experienced plant explorer, photographer, and tour leader for the AGS, along with Daniel Montesinos, a botanist, taxonomist, and ecologist with studies in Peru. Daniel has described twenty-nine new species of alpine plants in the Andes mountains.

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Provisional itinerary

Day 1 (Friday, 28 March) Arequipa

The tour begins in the city of Arequipa in the early afternoon. We visit as a group the old districts of Carmen Alto and Yanahuara, where we will see from two scenic viewpoints the surroundings of the city and the three volcanoes. In the late afternoon we stroll into the town center to enjoy some local cuisine. We spend 3 nights in Arequipa.

Plants in the Arequipa city center: Tipuana tipu, Erythrina falcata, Quercus ruber, Jacaranja mimosifolia, Luma chequen, Washingtonia robusta, Lantana cámara, Cantua buxifolia, Duranta erecta.

Cantua buxifolia

Cantua buxifolia

Day 2 (Saturday, 29 March) Puquina

Drive to Puquina, a village in the outskirts of the city. We climb today to 3100 mts. above sea level. We explore Polobaya and San Jose Usuña lake. The highlights are the columnar cacti of the Sancayo plant, among many shrubs and ground rosettes, bulbs, and several endemics.

Expect to see: Jacaranda mimosifolia, Salix humboldtiana, Weberbauerocereus weberbaueri, Armatocereus riomajensis, Corryocactus aureus, Neoraimondia arequipensis, Gochnatia arequipensis, Mulguraea arequipensis, Cantua volcanica, Cantua buxifolia, Krameria lappacea.

Day 3 (Sunday, 30 March) Pichu Pichu Volcano

A fter breakfast, we head to the National Park ‘Salinas – Aguada Blanca,’ at an altitude of 4250 meters which is composed of the Salinas Lake, hosting migrating bird species such as flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) and Wilson’s phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor), as well as a few mammal species. We pass along a village called Chiguata and the Simbral. We botanise at the slopes of the volcano and if there is time also around Salinas Moche which should be floristically very interesting. Unpaved, gravel road (75 km).

Expect to see: Polylepis rugulosa, Chuquiraga spinosa, Colletia spinosissima, Gynoxys longistyla, Nototriche turritella, Arenaria volcanica, Nototriche foetida, Caiophora andina, Azorella compacta, Pycnophyllum molle, Mniodes caespititia, Tarasa nototrichoides, Festuca orthophylla, Alshehbazia friesii, Hypochaeris meyeniana, Perezia coerulescens, Senecio crassilodix.

Day 4 (Monday 31 March) Arequipa – Chivay

Today we drive to Chivay, the main village at the Colca Canyon area, through a meseta called Pampa Cañahuas (4105 mts.) and Abra Patapampa or Apacheta (4907 mts.) with many kinds of alpine plants. Also, lots of camelids to be seen like llamas, alpacas, vicuñas.

Distance 170 km. Paved. We spend 4 nights in Chivay.

Expect to see: Azorella compacta, Gentianella potamophila, Gentiana sedifolia, Mniodes coarctata, Nototriche orbignyana, Nototriche pediculariifolia, Parastrephia lepidophylla, Senecio humillimus, Arenaria acaulis, Senecio serratifolius, Aschersoniodoxa cachensis, Senecio beltranii, Nototriche turritella.

Day 5 (Tuesday 1 April) Abra Apacheta or Patapampa

Early in the morning we go back to Abra Apacheta to explore the area (at 4907 mts.)

Distance: 35 km aprox. (one way)

Expect to see: Parastrephia lucida, Senecio algens, Leucheria daucifolia, Nototriche azorella, Azorella diapensioides, Rockhausenia pectinata, Arenaria dillonii, Stellaria weberbaueri, Nototriche obcuneata, Nototriche staffordiae, Nototriche orbignyana, Pycnophyllum molle, Mniodes caespititia, Senecio candollei, Nototriche pediculariifolia, Senecio tassaensis, Oreomyrrhis andicola, Caiophora rosulata, Senecio nutans, Werneria esquilachensis, Azorella compacta, Ephedra Breana, Werneria ciliolata, Gentianella potamophilla, Gentiana sedifolia.

Day 6 (Wednesday, 2 April) Abra Tisco / Callalli (at 4801 mts.)

Right after breakfast we drive north east of Chivay in the direction of Callalli, a picturesque village with a prominent church at the foot of the Colca river. We take a small unpaved road to Condoroma to botanize in the area.

Distance: 59 km (one way). Road 34E.

Expect to see: Cumulopuntia glomerata, Erigeron rosulatus, Senecio moqueguensis, Valeriana nivalis, Stangea rhizantha, Stangea wandae, Junellia minima, Leucheria daucifolia, Astragalus arequipensis, Baccharis caespitosa, Nototriche obcuneata, Oriastrum stuebelii, Phacelia setigera, Nototriche sulphurea, Lobivia maximiliana, Gentianella scarlatina, Rockhausenia apiculata, Rockhausenia pectinata.

Day 7 (Thursday, 3 April) Mismi Mountain

Today, we are venturing into an unexplored area. Our botanical exploration will take us to the slopes of Mismi, a mountain peak of volcanic origin, in the Chila mountain range of the Andes in Peru. Notably, a glacial stream on Mismi, situated at an altitude of 5,597 meters, was definitively identified as the most distant source of the Amazon River in 1996. We commence our journey early in the morning, aiming to ascend as high as possible to thoroughly explore the rich botanical diversity of the region.

Azorella compacta habitat

Azorella compacta habitat

Day 8 (Friday, 4 April) Chivay – San Juan Tarucani / Carmen Chaclaya

Today we do the road trip to San Juan de Tarucani (via Huayllacucho), a tiny village in the high Andes of Arequipa region. We start early in the morning and take the road in the direction to Arequipa and later to Puno (the old road). We botanize along the way at an altitude between 3800 and 4500 altitude mts. We spend one the night in a basic accommodation. We need to share rooms. (1 night)

Distance: 138 km. Paved and unpaved road.

Expect to see: Weberbauera arequipa, Nototriche turritella, Nototriche foetida, Junellia minima, Arenaria orbignyana, Stangea rhizantha, Viola granulosa, Parastrephia lepidophylla, Culumopuntia boliviana, Mancoa hispida, Olsynium acaule.

Day 9 (Saturday, 5 April) Yunga – Puyas de Raimondi

Today we have a short but steep drive to Yunga, a small village in the Andes of Moquegua region, at the shore of Tambo River.

We will spend 3 nights in Yunga.

In the midday we visit the Puya de Raimondi forest called “Kasullama” near the village. We drive east of the village up the mountain, take a deviation to the water reservoir of the village. Puyas are upwards, about 80-meter walk, this is the closest we can get to them.

Expect to see: Puya raimondii, Draba macleanii, Bomarea involucrosa, Alstroemeria pygmaea, Euphorbia huanchahana, Castilleja nubigena, Cumulopuntia boliviana, Ophioglossum crotalophoroides, Escallonia myrtilloides.

Day 10 (Sunday, 6 April) Pirhuani

Today we spend the day at Pirhuani Mountain and Cochapata Lake at 4600–4700 m. Abundant flora.

These magnificent sites, explored in 2014, have a unique abundance of Nototriche species and considered to be one of the centers of diversity of the genus. The lakes have different bird species, and we will see wild vicunas. All the area bears a little over 120 plant species, mostly flowering in April.

Expect to see: Pycnophyllum molle, Lupinus ananeanus, Nototriche turritella, Nototriche mandoniana, Nototriche orbignyana, Paronychia ubinensis, Werneria poposa, Nototriche argentea, Urtica echinata, Senecio candollei, Parastrephia lucida, Cerastium behmianum, Plantago sericea, Loricaria graveolens, Puya raimondii, Werneria esquilachensis, Astragalus minimus, Viola ornata, Valeriana nivalis.

Day 11 (Monday, 7 April) Choco-Choco

We drive for at least one hour towards Laguna Matecocha, on east Yunga on a road in relatively bad condition. We explore the area upwards near Choco-Choco, a fantastic area with several alpine plants. These sites are considered pristine and bear an outstanding variety of soil colors that make an incredible contrast with the cushion plants. Expect to see relatively abundant nototriches.

Expect to see: Senecio algens, Lobivia maximiliana, Nototriche ticsanica, Werneria esquilanchensis, Werneria staffordiae, Senecio anastasioi, Viola ornata, Bomarea dulcis, Epilobium fragile, Mniodes coarctata, Distichia muscoides, Nototriche obcuneata, Nototriche pediculariifolia, Nototriche orbignyana, Erigeron rosulatus, Aschersoniodoxa cachensis, Nototriche longirostris, Olsynium acaule, Azorella compacta, Lupinus paruroensis.

Day 12 (Tuesday, April 8th) Titire – San Cristóbal de Calacoa

We drive from Yunga to Titire on a road that it’s at the beginning unpaved, but later paved and in good condition. Once we get to Titire, we take the paved road which is the “Interoceánica Sur”. In Titire we stop at the geysers and for botanising. Then, we continue on the paved road for about 130 km towards Moquegua, we take a deviation in the direction of Ticsani Volcano, a fabulous area for botanising. Scenery is outstanding.

We overnight in Calacoa, a small village with basic accommodation.

The entire journey should be of about 10 hrs including stops.

Expect to see: Rhea pennata, Caiophora rosulata, Gentiana sedifolia, Mniodes coarctata, Lobivia maximiliana, Bomarea dulcis, Calandrinia acaulis, Nototriche ticsanica, N. mandoniana, N. obcuneata, N. purpurascensis, N. compacta, Myrosmodes sp., Azorella diapensioides, Viola granulosa, Viola hillii, Jaborosa squarrosa.

Day 13 (Wednesday, 9 April) Moquegua

After breakfast, we take the road to Cuchumbaya and continue to Carumas. We go through different landscape than in the last days, also different plants. We overnight in the city of Moquegua in a good hotel. Distance 140 km (about 3 hrs. without stops). We spend one night in Moquegua.

Expect to see: Oreocereus leucotrichus, O. hempelianus, Corryocactus brevistylus, Tecoma arequipensis, Cumulopuntia leucophaea, Mentzelia scabra, Puya ferrugínea, Balbisia meyeniana, Tiquilia paronychioides, Cantua candelilla, Lobivia pampana, Cumulopuntia corotilla, Aphyllocladus denticulatus, Ophryosporus peruvianus, Trixis cacalioides, Tara spinosa, Presliophytum incanum, Calceolaria sclerophylla, Salvia haenkei, Gaya weberbaueri.

Day 14 (Wednesday, 10 April 10) Back to Arequipa

The last kilometers of our journey are on the Panamericana highway back in the direction to Arequipa. Distance 225 km.

We spend one night in Arequipa (the last night) and have farwell dinner.

More information

Itinerary starting and ending in Lima (addition)

Day 0 (Thursday, March 27th) : Arrival to Lima.

If you decide to fly into Lima one day before the start of the tour (Thursday, March 27), we can offer an optional package that includes a hotel lodging and breakfast near Lima Airport and a transfer to and from the hotel in Lima and Arequipa (at arrival).

This optional package will also be provided to participants who would like to spend the night in Lima after the tour ends.

Tour leader and botanical guide:

Harry Jans. A well-known experienced plant explorer, photographer and tour leader for the AGS. He has been part for many plant expeditions and botanical tours to China (including Tibet), Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Peru.

Daniel Montesinos. Botanist, taxonomist and ecologist, with studies in Peru and the Netherlands, he is PhD in phytosociology (Andean vegetation science) and editor of books about the Peruvian flora. He has described twenty nine new species of alpine plants for Peru and he is well experienced in botanical tours in the Andes.

Altitude

It’s important to have experienced altitude before you sign up for this tour. Altitude can be an issue. We begin our tour at 2,550 meters above the sea level. Later on, we’re going to explore the Altiplano area for twelve days at around 3,800 to 4,500 meters above sea level without dropping to lower levels. It’s almost obligatory to take Diamox (Acetazolamide) during the tour and drink enough water (at least two liters a day). Please see your doctor for personal advise about medicines for high altitude sickness.

Hotels and lodges

Mostly three star hotels in the cities (Arequipa, Chivay, Moquegua), with warm showers and a restaurant, but in some places like in San Juan de Tarucani and Yunga we have a basic accommodation. These hotels are located at an altitude of 3,000 to 4,200 meters above sea level sometimes without enough warm water or electricity at night. We might need to share rooms and bathrooms for a couple of nights.

Transportation & distances

Air-conditioned minibuses or 4×4 vehicles driven by professional drivers will be used during the tour.

Meals

Arequipa is a cosmopolitan city, the second city in Peru, which offers a variety of restaurants of the well-known Peruvian food. Some of the towns where we will be staying in have limited or no dining options. Breakfast will be provided at the hotel and generally consists of eggs, ham, cereals, cheese, toast, jam, local pastries, fruit juice, milk, tea, and coffee. For days we are in the field, we will provide a box-lunch and snacks. We will also provide water during all meals and field activities.

Dinners are going to be our main meal of the day. Expect typical entrees such as chicken, fish, pasta, and stews. To accommodate personal dietary preferences, we will give each participant a list of dinner options for review and selection. The main tour includes 14 breakfasts (not at day 1) and 14 dinners and 14 (box) lunches. Water and coffee are available during all meals. Non sparkling water will be provided during each dinner. Other beverages can be purchased by participants based on local availability.

Climate & equipment

During the months of March-April, it can be rainy and sunny. It can rain and be cool at high altitude, especially at high altitude. The temperature can drop to 3 degrees Cerlsius

We advise to take: A warm jacket (goose down), rain gear, good boots for walking, walking sticks, a sleeping bag liner for the basic accommodation, a whistle, a torch and diamox (acetazolamide) for altitude sickness.

Money

The official currency in Peru is the Peruvian Sol. Over the past several years, the value of the Peruvian sol has been stable. The official rate used by banks and with credit cards is 3,70 soles per U.S. dollar or 4,04 soles per euro. For more information, search the internet. You will need money for personal purchases such as souvenirs, drinks, snacks, etc.

Time

Peru is six hours behind of Greenwich Standard Time. Noon in London is 6:00 am in Lima.

Flight tickets

Each tour member is responsible for booking their own flight ticket to get to Arequipa. Closer to the date, AGS will privide information on the best options for booking the domestic return flight between Lima and Arequipa. Please refrain from booking any flights until you receive an email from AGS confirming that the trip will go ahead.

Booking deadline:

The final date to book this tour is 1 December 2024.