Situated on the northern edge of the Atacama Desert, most of which lies over the border in Chile, the MOQUEGUA region is traditionally and culturally linked to the Andean region around Lake Titicaca, and many ethnic Colla and Lupaca from the mountains live here. The local economy today is based on copper mining, fruit plantations and wine. More interestingly, for those partial to spirits, Moquegua has a reputation for producing Peru’s best pisco. Historically, this area is an annexe of the altiplano, which was used as a major thoroughfare first by the Tiahuanacu and later the Huari peoples. In the future it may well be the main route for the gas pipeline out of Peru’s eastern rainforest regions to the coast. Right now, though, located in a relatively narrow valley, the colonial town of Moquegua has winding streets, an attractive plaza and many of adobe houses roofed in thatch and clay.

Few non-Peruvians come to Moquegua to visit the local attractions, as most are in a hurry to get in or out of Chile. That said, the area has plenty of little-visited but interesting sites, from wine and pisco bodegas and volcanoes to petroglyphs and archeological remains. All of these require personal car transport, or, better, going with a local tour company.

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