Arequipa, the valley of petroglyphs

Arequipa has a large number of tourist attractions. From beautiful landscapes to a set of exquisite gastronomy. It also has colonial attractions of great architectural value. However, it has other interesting tourist destinations. For example, in the Majes Valley you can find a great variety of petroglyphs of great value for Peruvian history and to recognize different cultural manifestations from thousands of years ago.

Petroglyphs in Arequipa
Petroglyphs in Arequipa

Arequipa proves to be a privileged place in the southern part of the country. Due to its location, many valleys can be found at an altitude very close to the sea. Within these valleys you can find different petroglyphs. According to research, some of them date back 6,000 years.

Among the figures of the petroglyphs there are human representations hunting, animals of different species, different characterizations of man and animals; You can even see images of divine beings. Let’s see some places that have already gained great recognition and others that are beginning to be analyzed by specialists. We will know the location and the ways to get to these places full of history and other nearby attractions.

1. The Sumbay Caves in Arequipa

Sumbay Caves - Arequipa
Sumbay Caves in Arequipa

The Sumbay Caves are located north of Arequipa. These caves are located at an altitude of more than 4100 meters above sea level. It can be reached from the Arequipa – Colca route. In these caves we will find cave art, it is impossible not to mention it as a point to discover ancient Peru.

Since its discovery in 1968, 500 cave paintings have been found dating back more than 6,000 years. They are drawings from the Paleolithic era made by the first inhabitants of the Colca Valley who were nothing more than hunters and gatherers. Hence the inspiration to do such work.

Representations of flora and fauna can be found. Something very striking is the expression of the fauna, there are drawings where you can see the attempt to draw in three-dimensional form, taking advantage of the shapes of the caves. This attempt increases the realistic details of the drawing. In addition, you can find different animals that are currently known and typical of the area, the most unique are the suris, large birds similar to ostrich.

You can also find representations of hunts and some dancers. It is believed that some of the images represent a rite or ceremony before undertaking the hunt, in the form of an offering so that the hunt is successful. Inside these caves were found some hunting tools and for other functions. They have two differences: some are made with retinite stone and the others are made with obsidian stone.

2. The petroglyphs of Toro Muerto

Toro Muerto Arequipa
Toro Muerto – Arequipa

The petroglyphs of Toro Muerto are located near Corire, a district of the province of Castilla in the Arequipa region, approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes by car from the city from Arequipa. This area is very close to the Majes Valley.

This enclosure is considered the place that houses the most cave art. It is estimated that there are more than 2,600 blocks engraved in low relief, with interesting geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures. They are approximately 800 to 1500 years old. They are spread over an area of ​​5 square kilometers.

For the execution of these images, different artistic engraving techniques were used. There are some that were made by blows, others by scratching the stones, rubbing stone with stone, even engraving itself and chipping.

You can see giant stones carved with low-relief representations of different figures, from human images in relation to their environment and the operating mode of their rituals and some representations of animals. There is also a large majority of religious representations that were among the most important.

3. Other petroglyphs

Arequipa has been recognized since 2000 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, making it a privileged place for tourism. In this sense and as we have been mentioning, we want to name some other petroglyph findings that are currently under analysis and studies in order to offer better experiences to tourists. Let’s see some of them in a general way.


What will we find on the Ruta del Sillar?

The Sillar Route is a destination through which you can reach the Culebrillas Petroglyphs. This is a place, not far from Arequipa, that has been more popular in recent years.

Upon arrival, a tour of different ashlar sculptures is made. The interesting thing about making this trip is that you will enter the same quarry without any problem. The facilities of the place are perfectly signposted and with marked paths to enjoy the different attractions.

How to go to the Ruta del Sillar?

You can go to the Ruta del Sillar on your own, it is recommended to do it through a tour to avoid setbacks and visit all the attractions that this place has.

The tours cost 45 soles on average.

The tour starts after picking up the tourists from the hotels in the center of Arequipa. It takes approximately 40 minutes to reach the access area of ​​the Ruta del Sillar.

The entrance fee to the Ruta del Sillar is 10 soles (some agencies do not include the entrance ticket).

Finally, you can visit the Culebrillas ravine, which has the formation of a small canyon. Completing this journey takes between 20 to 30 minutes and you will reach the petroglyphs of Las Culebrillas.

The cost to enter the petroglyphs Las Culebrillas is five soles.

The tour ends with a return to the historic center of Arequipa.


By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, September 19, 2022

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