If you google “Moquegua, Peru” one hotel will be listed and little other information. But if you have a reason to travel there you will not be disappointed. Moquegua has to be one of the cleanest, safest and nicest places in Peru. It has narrow European-like streets. At its centre is the beautiful Plaza de Armas, with a fountain designed by Gustave Eiffel (think Paris tower) and surrounded by huge trees. And at one corner of the square sits the Cathedral.
Moquegua is located in a beautiful green valley that is in surreal contrast to the barren desert that surrounds it. It is irrigated by a river and the fertile soil grows many fruits and vegetables as well as vineyards. You can buy locally produced fruits and vegetables in the market and even cheeses that are produced locally. We had fresh strawberries which we bought from a woman pushing a wheelbarrow full. The gouda cheese was a nice treat as well.
There are plenty of amenities in Moguegua such as restaurants and hotels. We stayed at the Hotel Moquegua. (Check them out at www.HotelMoqueguaPeru.com.) They are about two blocks from the plaza. People are friendly in Moquegua unlike other places in South America, they will actually stop to let you cross the street.
There are few street sellers in Moqugua but lots of clean and organized little shops selling everything you need. And because there are next to no tourists there is little begging. Moqueguans are proud of their city and this shows.
Moquegua enjoys the economic prosperity of being near a copper mine located just outside of town. But of course it has its issues as any city does. Our reason from coming to Moquegua was to visit an orphanage. Hogar Belen is located at the edge of the city on a beautiful piece of farm land that provides produce and livestock for the it.
So what is there to do in Moquegua? You can visit the Geocliffs in which are a mini local version of the Nazca lines. They are images of llamas or alpacas on a hillside in the neigbourhood of Chen Chen.
You can also visit the local museum (Museo Contisuyo) which has some interesting archeological artifacts. But as the friendly staff to interpret as much of the narrative is in Spanish.
Overlooking the city is, of course, like almost every South American city, a statue of Jesus. Ask to to go the Mirador Turistico. There is a small park and the panoramic view is great. Especially at sunset.
The cathedral is worth the visit but as far as we could tell it is only open during mass so you can catch a few quiet meditative moments.
Catch up on your email and enjoy a latte at the El Descanso Spa Cafe. The closest thing you will find to Starbucks. Find them i the 300 block of Lima Street or on Facebook. Enjoy a manicure, pedicure or massage.
The port town of Ilo is about a hour away by bus and apparently an enjoyable day trip. It boasts a beautiful malecon, although we didn’t actually get to see it ourselves.
The only way to get to Moquegua is by bus. Travelling from either Arequipa or Puno, it is a mesmerizing trip through the desert arriving at this gem in the river valley. Moquegua might just be Peru’s best kept secret.