Arequipa is a fantastic cycling region for those who love mountains, dry deserts, cycling above 4,000 m (~13,000 ft.), living culture, and stunning views. There are dozens of amazing cycling routes, from well-paved roads to quiet dirt trails. The landscapes found in the mountains surrounding the city of Arequipa are striking, with volcanos, canyons, and plateaus populated by some of the most spectacular vicuñas and llamas in all the Andes.
A bike is the perfect way to explore the extensive network of small mountain roads that wind their way outwards from the city center, and which may or may not appear on published maps. A peaceful cycling route like no other runs through the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world, located 160 km (99 mi.) from the city center. A 250-km (155-mi.) road, paved for 80% of the way, leads through picturesque towns with their welcoming residents, between the village of Sibayo and the fertile Majes Valley. Another inspiring path is the Cones and Canyons route, which takes cyclists from the Cotahuasi Canyon to the Valley of the Volcanos in Andagua, or to Abancay in the Apurímac region.
Around the city of Arequipa, there are many routes that are popular with local cyclists, such as the trip up the volcano Chachani to Cabrerías and back; the scenic countryside route to the Founder’s Mansion and the mill in Sabandía; or the path through the farming terraces to Pocsi and the foothills of the volcano Pichu Pichu. Some road cyclists like the paved route to the Cerro Verde Mine or the town of Puquina, on the boundary with the Moquegua region. Let’s not forget Arequipa’s coast, either. There is a classic one-day cycling competition from Arequipa to Mollendo, as well as the one-lane roads around Mejía and the Tambo Valley.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that cycling in the Arequipa region is for tough, experienced mountain bikers. As they put it on the website www.andesbybike.com, “Peru is beautiful yet tough at the same time,” (No encontramos la cita en la página web),” because all the trails run either uphill or downhill. In the city of Arequipa, there are local travel agencies that can help you organize a bike trip, or you can do it yourself with a couple panniers and a tent. The best time of year is the dry (and sunniest) season between March and October.