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Pillones Falls: A Hidden Wonder in Arequipa

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Pillones Falls: A Hidden Wonder in Arequipa

Nature is an artist, capable of creating beautiful works of all kinds and in all shapes. A clear example of this is the Pillones Waterfalls, in the Imata Forest, a tourist attraction in the heart of Arequipa. 

The Pillones Waterfalls are an imposing tourist attraction, surrounded by rocky structures shaped by the constant shock of water. This wonderful place offers us a beautiful panoramic view of the flora and fauna of the place. 

Take advantage of your trip to the White City and discover an alternative destination: the Pillones waterfalls, at 4600 meters above sea level. 

Location:

It is located in the district of San Antonio de Chica, province of Caylloma, just 132 kilometers from the city of Arequipa. 

Pillones Waterfalls

If adventure tourism is your thing, it is time to pack your bags and head to Arequipa, to reach the Imata Forest, enjoy the landscape and finally visit the Pillones Waterfalls. 

How to get to the Pillones Waterfalls?

In order to visit this attraction, we have to start from the white city "Arequipa" from where we will have to take a bus (or others) in the direction of the Arequipa-Puno highway, district of San Antonio. Where we will get off the transport to walk for approximately 15 to 30 minutes to the left side, towards the river. 

It is advisable to hire an authorized Travel Agency, so that you can enjoy your trip. 

If you decide to go on your own, you must go to the district of San Antonio de Chuca, in the Arequipa province of Caylloma, at kilometer 154 of the Arequipa-Puno highway. From that point, a 30-minute walk begins on the left side in the direction of the river. The entrance to the place is S/2. 

Pillones Waterfalls – Imata Forest Tour

They are two places that are practically together. Most tourist tours will provide you with a package to visit and tour both places. Thus, you will have mobility, a specialized guide and snacks included for both wonders. But if you want to explore them on your own, these are the instructions: 

Pillones Waterfalls

This place is located at kilometer 154, on the Arequipa-Puno highway. At this point you must get off the transport and walk just 1 more kilometer (15 to 30 minutes at a slow pace) to the left side in the direction of the river. 

The Data

You must be in good physical condition and prepared for altitude sickness. The site is located at 4,600 meters above sea level. and icy winds are felt. Wear a windbreaker jacket and warm clothing.

Upon reaching the falls you will see dozens of rocks shaped by the erosion of water and time. You will also spot numerous vizcachas jumping over the rocks. From there you can descend to the waterfall. The road is dangerous: you will have to move forward squatting and carefully. 

Once you get there, you can take pictures, enjoy the warm weather, the landscape, the typical flora and fauna of the region. 

Advice

It is necessary to wear the appropriate shoes and be aware of the ground, because any obstacle can cause you to fall.

Bring all the necessary items for a day of trekking: such as sunscreen, comfortable clothing, cap or hat, long-sleeved polo shirt, and warm clothing (if the trek ends in the afternoon). Also bring plenty of water and light snacks such as fruit, cookies, and small sandwiches.

Among the fauna that you will observe will be various species of birds and mammals, such as the Andean swallow, the Andean duck, the huallata, the torrent duck (in extinction), among others. 

Imata Stone Forest

As we mentioned, the Imata Stone Forest (in the province of Caylloma) is part of the tour and is very close to the falls. It is located 150 km northeast of the city of Arequipa, on the same Arequipa-Puno highway (approximately 2 and a half hours by car). 

Once the tour by car is over, you will arrive at the picturesque town of Imata. In the same place and with the help of the guide you will find an entrance that will lead you to the forest, after a walk of approximately one hour. 

The landscape has no comparison. The Imata Forest is home to strange rock formations, made up of stone columns and with the appearance of an enchanted forest. 

Hundreds of years had to pass before the erosion of the wind, without the intervention of men, gave shape to these rock formations. Their silhouettes lend themselves to interpretations, but it is common to find forms of prehistoric animals, Andean birds, monsters, human faces, etc.

Keep in mind

The Imata Forest is located at an average altitude of 4,300 meters above sea level. If necessary, take pills for altitude sickness or coca tea.

All these forms were molded by nature, as if it were an abstract art. The forest has many rocky columns of ignimbrite material, which is basically the product of volcanic material and the erosive forces of wind, rain, and the sun.

What is the best season (weather) to visit these places?

Any time of the year is good to visit the Pillones Waterfalls and the Imata Forest. This is because Arequipa has an average temperate climate during all months, with temperatures between 10 and 24 degrees. 

Remember that you must visit the falls during the day and very early to take advantage of the sunlight. During the mornings the sun always offers a pleasant warmth, although during the winter or at night the cold can drop to 10 degrees, so we recommend you travel with warm clothes if you plan to stay late. 

If you plan your trip in advance and want to enjoy the countless tourist destinations in Arequipa, you can choose to travel in August. During the first fortnight of this month the Foundation of the city of Arequipa is celebrated and there are always parties, fireworks, contests, parades, cultural and artistic activities, gastronomic fairs and more. 

If you want to avoid the rains during your visit, do not travel during the months of January through March. In this season there are moderate rains, although they will not prevent you from visiting the destinations you want. 

Other tourist destinations in Arequipa

If you visited the Pillones Waterfalls and your goal is to visit more places with great biological, cultural, and landscape diversity, we offer you some options for your future trip: 

Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve

This is a protected natural area for the development of different species such as the vicuña, taruca, the Andean parihuana and the common parihuana. It extends over more than 366,936 hectares in the provinces of Arequipa, Cayllona and General Sánchez. 

It has an extensive network of paths through which you can explore the entire territory and also has a high circuit from where you can see other attractions, such as the Misti, Chachani, Pichu Pichu and Ubinas volcanoes, the Salinas lagoon, the Pampa del Confital and the Mauca rock formations. 

Ampato volcano

It is located at 6,288 meters above sea level and is temporarily inactive. It has a layer of snow that covers it above 5,000 meters high. At its top you can see the depression of the Colca Canyon, where the "Lady of Ampato" was found, the funeral bundle of a girl from the time of the Inca Culture. 

The Ampato Volcano is located 177 kilometers north of the city of Arequipa, about 5 hours by road. 

Dead Bull – Querulpa

Toro Muerto is known as one of the largest and most famous samples of rock art in the world. Located in an arid landscape, there you can see about 5 thousand rocks known as volcanic tuffs, which have engraved zoomorphic, geometric and anthropomorphic figures. All of them carved approximately in the years 500 AD. and 1300 AD. 

On the other hand, the Jurassic Park of Querulpa is located a few minutes from Toro Muerto, and it is an area with multiple footprints of dinosaurs that inhabited the area millions of years ago. There you will also find representations of dinosaurs made of fiberglass and a museum with paleontological findings. 

To get there, you must follow the Arequipa-Lima route and deviate 7 km at the height of the Uraca district. The journey is 159 km and takes approximately two and a half hours. 

Sumbay Caves

These caves are within the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve itself. There you will find more than 500 rock art figures dating back up to 8,000 years. 

Cotahuasi Valley and Canyon

One of the best views of the heights of Arequipa can be seen from the Cotahuasi Valley, the same one that has a lot of biodiversity and landscapes, such as the Coropuna and Solimana snow-capped mountains, the Sipia waterfall and its hot springs, as well as the Cotahuasi Canyon. 

You can also do adventure tourism, with trekking, canoeing, climbing, paragliding or mountain biking activities to explore the valley. 

It is located 375 km northwest of the city of Arequipa, about nine hours by car. 

Birdwatching

Both the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve as well as the Colca Valley and the Colca Canyon are the three best places for Andean bird watching, with more than 150 species. 

You can enjoy the flight of the condor at the Mirador del Colca and other species such as the giant hummingbird, the Andean goose, the Chilean flamingo, the black hummingbird, among others.

Colca Canyon

It is one of the largest tourist destinations in the entire country, located in the province of Caylloma. It is 165 km from the city of Arequipa and 40 km from the town of Chivay. 

It is 100 km long and crosses plains full of ichu and yareta, classic Andean vegetation. Vizcachas and alpacas also inhabit this place, camelids typical of the region. 

To get to and tour the Colca Canyon, the most common tour is a two-day hike full of adventure. 

Where to stay?

Back from the Pillones Waterfalls, Arequipa has accommodations of all kinds. For example, if you don't want to spend too much, the Hotel Puerta del Sol offers shared rooms from $5 a night or private rooms from $10. If you are looking for better services, you can book the Hotel América or the Hotel Villa Sillar, with rates that exceed $20 per night. 

Whatever your choice, we recommend that you stay somewhere close to the Plaza de Armas. There you will be very close to restaurants, shops, tourist agencies and historical and cultural attractions. 

Gastronomy of Arequipa

Arequipa cuisine is highly recognized in Peru. To start the day, you can try an Arequipeño shrimp chupe or the traditional shrimp soup with milk. If you are a fan of cold appetizers, try the famous Soltero, a salad composed of fresh cheese, tomato, olives, and onion. 

Meats serve as the main ingredient for various stews. For example: Adobo Arequipeño, a combination of pork with chicha chocho and spices. 

Also order the escribano: a potato salad with vinegar, tomato, parsley and rocoto. 

Different options

Another almost essential option on your way through the city is the Cuy Chactado, a fried guinea pig seasoned with red chili sauce, salt and pepper. What about the desserts? The best delicacy is the classic Ice Cream Cheese, prepared with milk and cinnamon. 

All these dishes and other traditional recipes can be found in various restaurants in the city of Arequipa, but also in some populated centers.

What is the cost of entry to the Pillones Falls?

In order to visit Las Cataratas De Pillones, we have to pay an entrance ticket cost of 2.00 soles per person, whether adult or child. The payment that is made, in order to preserve and improve the area. 

Is the road complicated to get to the Pillones Falls?

The walk to Las Cataratas De Pillones is not complicated at all, however, to get to the tourist site you have to walk downhill for approximately 15 minutes, since the transport does not take you directly to the falls, it will only leave you at the bottom from above, from where you will have to walk. 

Is it recommended to do the Pillones Waterfalls Tour with elderly adults and children?

Taking this tour requires little physical activity, so it is not recommended to take the tour for older adults, those who are not used to doing physical activity. However, children can carry out the tour normally with the respective care of each minor. 

What do you need to bring?

  • Personal documents (identity document or passport).
  • Light clothing
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Long-sleeved polo shirt and warm clothes.
  • Comfortable slippers.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • sunglasses and hat.
  • Photographic camera.
  • Snack (nuts, fruits, etc.)
  • Mineral water.

Recommendations:

  • Bring extra money (in soles).
  • Bring a small backpack for personal items.
  • Use sunscreen at all times, it is very important to protect your skin from the sun's rays.
  • Remember that after visiting this tourist attraction, you have to leave the place clean, so do not forget to bring a bag to store all your waste.

Best Trekking and Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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