All about the salinas and aguada blanca national reserve
What is it?
Salinas y Aguada Blanca is one of the nine national reserves that Peru has. It is recognized for the great variety of mountain flora and fauna where there are up to 37 mammals such as: vicuñas, Andean cat, tarucas, vizcachas, Andean pumas, Andean foxes. Likewise, among the 158 species of birds are: flamingos, huallata, Andean goose, the Andean condor, among others.
The national reserve covers an area of 366,936 hectares. Most of the tours depart from the city of Arequipa. In its mountainous geography you can see different natural tourist attractions such as: the Salinas lagoon, the Aguada Blanca pampa, the Mauka stone forest and more. Most tours depart from the city of Arequipa.
Where is it?
The Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve is located in the south of Peru, in an Andean geographical area that includes the Arequipa provinces of Caylloma and Arequipa as well as the Moqueguana province of General Sánchez Cerro.
Currently, the construction of an immense highway (called Interoceanic because it connects Peru with Brazil) has caused the death of some species of vicuñas in the Salinas y Aguada Blanca national reserve. Likewise, the people who circulate on this road drop garbage polluting the place. Visitors are advised not to damage the valuable ecosystem of this Andean geography.
How to get?
The starting point to visit the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve is the city of Arequipa. From there you can go in directions: a) the Yura - Juliaca highway or b) Arequipa - Chiguata - Puno. These two routes lead to the town of Chiguata, the gateway to the national reserve (located 25 kilometers from the city of Arequipa). Finally, you can choose to travel the place in different directions, either towards the Salinas lagoon (3 additional hours of travel) or the Toccra interpretation center (2 hours 30 additional minutes of travel).
What to see?
The Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve offers an impressive Andean geography, where it is possible to appreciate lagoons, mountains, plains, stone forests and many other natural tourist attractions. It is estimated that there are up to 37 types of mammals and 158 species of birds. Likewise, the place has Andean towns of deep tradition and customs.
One of its greatest attractions are the groups of vicuñas that inhabit this geographical area. The entire reserve was originally conceived as a center for the protection of these Andean camelids. Likewise, it highlights some natural tourist attractions such as the Salinas lagoon, the Mauka stone forest, the Aguada Blanca pampa, the Chachani, Misti, Pichu Pichu, Ubinas volcanoes, the Cañahuas pampa, the Indian lagoon, the cave paintings of Sumbay, the hot springs of Umalaso, among others.
The Andean flora of the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve is made up of 358 species of plants, the majority made up of shrub and herbaceous species. The most representative plants of the place are the desert scrub, the wetlands, the queñual and, above all, the pajonal de puna (high Andean grassland).
Investigations in the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve reveal the existence of up to 207 species, including birds and mammals. Likewise, 3 types of fish were recorded, 4 amphibians and 5 reptiles. The most representative animal of the reserve is the vicuña. They also highlight the presence of other camelids such as: the alpaca, the llama and the guanaco.
Among the most representative mammals of the reserve are the Andean puma, the vizcacha, the Andean cat, the tarucas, the Andean fox, the osjollo and more. Among the most famous bird species are the goose, the huallata, the flamingos (parihuanas), the condor, the Andean duck, among others.
How much does it cost to go?
The 1-day tours have an approximate cost of 200 Peruvian soles per visitor (62 US dollars, approximately). All services include: transportation, entrance ticket, tour guide and first aid kit.
The weather in the reserve is cold. The maximum temperature during the day can reach 15ºC. (59ºF) while the minimum temperature during the nights can drop to -10ºC. (14ºF).
When to go?
The best time to visit the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve is during the dry season, from April to October. At that time of year the rains are not frequent so it is easier to explore the geography of the place. Keep in mind that the rainiest months are January, February, and March.
What to bring
- Poncho for rain.
- Cap or hat.
- Comfortable and warm clothes.
- Rehydrating drinks.
- Backpack or bag.
- Photographic camera.
Photos of the national reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca
The mountain geography within the reserve also allows the practice of different adventure sports, such as: hiking trails, mountain biking, rock climbing and more. These must be done through an authorized tourism agency.
In 1979 the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve was created. Likewise, in 2003 the Salinas lagoon, the bofedales and the Indio lagoon were declared wetlands of international importance (assigned according to the Ramsar convention).
Some tips for your visit
The reserve has a cold climate due to the high geography of the Andes mountain range. At these altitudes it is common for visitors to suffer some symptoms of altitude sickness. It is recommended to acclimatize to the city of Arequipa, at least 2 days before the visit. It is also advisable to bring a windbreaker and warm clothing.
During your visit, preserve the diversity of flora and fauna. Try not to disturb the vicuñas when they graze in the field. Likewise, respect the environment and do not throw waste on the ground. The tour guide will explain to you what are the precautions that you should prevent during your visit.