Things to take home of Arequipa Peru

by Arequipa Travel on March 18, 2008

Arts and crafts from Arequipa Alpaca Possibly the world capital for alpaca production, Arequipa is an excellent place to buy alpaca clothing. Good quality items are available cheaper than in Cusco or Lima, as most of the firms are based in Arequipa. Bear in mind that even for the best items, the quality is not usually up to the standards of clothing in the west (Alpaca 111 is an exception), and all alpaca items must be hand washed and carefully cared for. Cheaper items are much the same as elsewhere in Peru, and are not usually 100% alpaca.

Alpaca is a soft, warm wool, not unlike cashmere. Better than alpaca is baby alpaca, the first shearing of a baby’s wool, and is softer and warmer than alpaca, but is more expensive. The best of all, and probably the most expensive wool in the world, is that of the vicuña. Until recently it was illegal to shear vicuña wool, as the vicuña was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1960s, but under tight control this law has been slightly relaxed in recent years. Vicuña wool is the finest in the world, having a diameter of 11-13 microns, as opposed to 30 microns for sheep wool, 17-19 microns for alpaca and 16 microns for cashmere. A scarf made of vicuña wool costs upwards of $400. Recently, wool from the guanaco, another relative of the llama, has begun to be used in the production of clothing. This is between alpaca and vicuña in quality. Llama wool is not used in the production of clothing, as when it gets wet is gives out an awful odour.

There are many places selling alpaca clothing. Crafts stores sell cheap, generally low-quality jumpers and other items, although these are often mixed with lambs’ wool. There are more upmarket shops in the cloisters of the Compañía church on Morán, ½ block from the Plaza de Armas, and in the Pasaje de la Catedral. Alpawool, at Santa Catalina 116, has good quality products. The best items are from Grupo Inca, the only company in the world allowed to work with vicuña wool, with high quality, although expensive, clothing. They sell in their Alpaca 111 shops at Zela 105 and in the cloisters of the Compañía church. Their factory shop in Tahuaycani has a small zoo with llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos on show. Grupo Inca also has shops in Cusco, Lima, the US and South Korea.

A good crafts market is the Fundo El Fierro next to the San Francisco Church, especially in August when many extra stalls are set up. Not found elsewhere are the woven alpaca carpets, typical of the Cotahuasi area. Other craft markets include the one in the Portal de Flores, and crafts are also found in the Comercial market in Mercaderes. There are many craft shops on Santa Catalina and in the Pasaje de la Catedral.

Much gold and silver jewellery is imported from Italy, and is therefore slightly more expensive than in some other countries. However, excellent reproductions of Inca and other pre-Hispanic jewellery can be found. Oro Pesa, in the Panorámico shopping centre and Oro Fino in the cloisters of La Compañía, have some very fine examples. Try the Comercial market next door to the Panorámico for cheap 14-karat gold-plated jewellery.

used to have a strong leather industry, and although this is no longer the case, many good-quality leather items can be found. Pedro P Diaz, in Puente Bolognese, has a good selection, and Eduardo Rios in the Panorámico shopping centre specialises in leather clothing, which will be made to order at reasonable prices.


There are a few antique shops in Santa Catalina selling colonial items. However, these are expensive. There are also a number of shops selling reproduction Cusqueña school paintings at reasonable prices. Bear in mind that it is illegal to take originals out of the country, so do get a certificate stating that it is a copy.


Not really an item to take home, but the chocolate at La Ibérica is excellent, and there are some items for sale that make good presents.


Most Arequipeños still do their shopping in markets (see below), so there is little need for large supermarkets. However, there are a number of smaller supermarkets offering most things that are needed. These tend to be more expensive than markets, but are more convenient. El Super has two branches in the centre, with a reasonable range of products. One is on the Plaza de Armas and the other is on Piérola. Franco’s, in Yanahuara, is Arequipa‘s biggest supermarket, but still not huge. If you are after a particular brand or are looking for something difficult to find, this is your best bet.


Markets are central to life in Arequipa, and almost anything can be bought in a market. Most Arequipeños still do food shopping at markets rather than supermarkets, and the selection of fruits and vegetables is wonderful. Also, a number of markets selling everything from plastic plants to CD-RW drives tend to be where most Arequipeños go shopping for other things. San Camilo market, on San Camilo, is a large covered market selling food, and it also has a good selection of flowers and small number of crafts. It is in a dangerous area, so keep your eyes open. Siglo 20 is a market of small stallholders selling just about everything. If you need something difficult to get hold of, chances are that you will be able to find it here.

Shopping centres and clothes stores

Mercaderes is the main shopping street, and most of the good quality shops are found there. The El Panorámico shopping centre, on the second block of Mercaderes, has a number of small shops selling a large range of items. La Uruguaya, on the first block of Mercaderes, is a relatively large department store, with some good quality clothing available. Estilos, on the third block of Mercaderes, is another department store, with a wider range of items than La Uruguaya. However, the quality of the clothing is not as good. Frankie and Ricky’s (Jerusalén 109) has good-quality clothing made from organically-grown Peruvian pima cotton, one of the best in the world.

Books and maps

There are no shops that sell English-language books, and the small number of bookshops are very expensive. A much cheaper alternative is to buy books from the numerous second-hand bookshops, which have a reasonably well-stocked range of Spanish-language books, and the occasional book in English or other languages. Maps can be bought from most librerías (which are not bookshops but stationers).


There are a large number of shops offering photo development. Most places are one-hour and the quality is not great. Among the best is Photo Chela on Santo Domingo, which also sells a good selection of Kodak print and slide film. The Fuji shop on Palacio Viejo has possibly the best developing in Arequipa, at good prices, but as the photos are sent to Lima for development it takes two days. This shop also sells a good range of Fuji films, including slide film.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Betyy lou March 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm

somebody neds to pofate their info!
La Uruguaya?
El Patio del Equeco is now there!

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