The National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, located between the departments of Arequipa and Moquegua, is a tourist attraction where nature shines in all its splendor with absorbing landscapes.
Volcanoes, fauna, flora and water resources combine perfectly in this place that has an extension of 366,936 hectares and whose height is between 3,500 and 6,000 meters above sea level. It was established in 1979 to care for the habitat of the vicuña, an emblematic animal of Peru that even appears on the National Coat of Arms.
Currently, it also represents the main water reserve in this area of the country. the hot mountain range To the southwest of the reserve is one of its greatest charms: the volcanic mountain range. It is made up of Misti and Ubinas, which are active, as well as Pichupichu and Chachani, the latter being the largest of all.
The first on the list is the best known for being the symbol of Arequipa and also because it is the only one with an almost perfect point, as can be seen on postcards. All of them can be observed from different strategic points in the natural area.
For that reason, it is not uncommon to find hot springs near the area. At the back of the Chachani volcano and north of the Misti is the Umaluso bath, which is one of the most popular with residents and visitors. Among other tourist attractions, the Puruña stone forest and the Sumbay caves also stand out, where 500 cave art figures are preserved that are approximately 8,000 years old.
The reserve keeps a mega diversity of fauna. Apart from species of reptiles, amphibians and fish, there are 207 vertebrates, of which 158 are birds and 37 mammals. Among the latter are the South American camelids: llama, alpaca, guanaco and the vicuña, who is the queen of the house. These animals live together in the highest areas of the mountains. The case of the vicuña has been an achievement.
With the commitment of the local communities, it was possible to recover from the danger of extinction. From 5,000 specimens in 1967 it went to 12,129 in 2016, according to the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (Sernanp). This conservation process has gone hand in hand with the formal use of its fine fibers by the inhabitants for commercial activities. the magic of nature The flora also shines in this reserve. We can appreciate 358 species of plants.
The herbaceous and shrubs are the most abundant and those that play a fundamental role in obtaining water resources. The yaretales, queñuales and pajonales have the capacity to retain the water that comes from the precipitation of rain, hail and snow. In addition to the subsoil, the liquid is stored in the bofedales and lagoons that also embellish the area and are the habitat of beautiful birds such as flamingos and Andean ducks.
Did you know? – The reserve offers visitors different activities such as cycling, hiking, trout fishing in season and authorized places for bird watching. All of them under restricted measures for the care of natural resources. For adventure lovers, it is possible to do mountain climbing in the area of the volcanoes. – The recommended season to enjoy this tourist site is between April and December due to the absence of rain. It is important to wear suitable clothing as the annual temperature is between -2 and 8 degrees.