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Ruta del Sillar

Pumice quarry

Arequipa Quarry

This is a half day tour that takes you first to a mirador where the guide tells you about the volcanoes and how their ash has been compacted and petrified to a strong building material which is called sillar in Spanish.

The second stop is a quarry where you can see the sillar blocks being quarried. Since modern building materials are cheaper, there isn’t enough demand for the actual blocks anymore. Many of those who work in the quarry carve statues or little souvenirs which sell better. If you enter one of their workshops, be prepared to pay a sol or two either as an entrance fee or as a tip.

The third stop is a narrow canyon called Quebrada de Culebras for the petroglyphs of snakes found in the bottom. It’s a beautiful place, just as good for photography as the quarry. It’s about a 20 minute walk through the canyon to the area with petroglyphs of snakes, condors, mountain goats and more.

Quebrada de culebras


Most tour companies in Arequipa run this tour. Ask at any of the places around the Plaza de Armas or on Calle Santa Catalina. I can’t help stating the obvious that a quarry in the desert is a very dusty place. Come prepared for wind and dust.


Peru In-A-Week

How to fit it all in?

Text © Heather Jasper

Images by Heather Jasper