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Arequipa is perhaps the number one spot in Peru -- better even than Cusco and Lima -- to shop for top-quality baby alpaca, vicuña, and woolen goods. Although many items are more expensive than the lesser-quality goods sold in other parts of Peru, in Arequipa you'll find nicer designs and export-quality knit sweaters, shawls, blankets, and scarves. In many parts of Peru, what is sold as alpaca or baby alpaca is often a mix of alpaca and synthetics. Many of the finest pure alpaca woven items in Peru come from Arequipa. Vicuña wool, which is softer, rarer, and more expensive than alpaca, is also now found at a couple of shops, but keep in mind that a simple shawl runs about $1,600. The city also produces very nice leather goods, and several excellent antiques shops feature colonial pieces and even older items (remember, though, that these antiques cannot legally be exported from Peru). Casona de Santa Catalina, Santa Catalina 210 (tel. 054/281-334) and Patio del Ekeko, Mercaderes 141 (tel. 054/215-861), are two small shopping malls near the Plaza de Armas with several good, upscale shops, including alpaca goods, handicrafts, jewelry, and food shops. Calle Mercaderes is newly pedestrian-only and more than ever the city's top shopping avenue.

Alpaca Goods -- Three general areas are particularly good for alpaca items. One is the cloisters next to La Compañía church, where you'll find several alpaca boutiques and outlets. Another good place is Pasaje Catedral, the pedestrian mall just behind the cathedral, and a third is Calle Santa Catalina. Shops with fine alpaca items include Kuna, Santa Catalina 210 and Calle Mercaderes 141 (tel. 054/282-485 and 054/225-550); Millma's Baby Alpaca, Pasaje Catedral 177 (tel. 054/205-134); Baby Alpaca Boutique, Santa Catalina 208 (tel. 054/206-716); Anselmo's Souvenirs, Pasaje Catedral 119 (no phone); Wari, San Francisco 311 (tel. 054/223-301); Alpaca Azul, Moral 223-225 (tel. 054/228-331); and Alpaca 111, Zela 212 (tel. 054/223-238). Two Incalpaca (Grupo Inca)  factory outlets are good spots to get last season's items at discounted prices: One is in town, within the courtyard of La Compañía, on General Moran and Álvarez Thomas (tel. 054/205-931); the other is about 10 minutes outside of town, Av. Juan Bustamante s/n, in the Tahuaycani district (tel. 054/251-025). The latter also has a small zoo of camelids to entertain the kids while parents shop for alpaca and hard-to-find and expensive vicuña items.

Antiques -- Calle Santa Catalina and nearby streets have several antiques shops. I found lots of items I wished I could have taken home at the following three stores: Curiosidades, Zela 207 (tel. 054/952-986); Álvaro Valdivia Montoya's two well-stocked shops at Santa Catalina 204 and Santa Catalina 406 (tel. 054/229-103); and Arte Colonial, Santa Catalina 312 (tel. 054/214-887).

Books -- A very good and friendly bookstore with art books and English-language paperbacks is Libería El Lector, San Francisco 221 (tel. 054/288-677).

Handicrafts -- A general handicrafts market (mercado de artesanía) with dozens of stalls in the old town jail, is next door to the Plazuela de San Francisco (btw. Zela and Puente Grau). For handmade leather goods, stroll along Puente Bolognesi, which leads west from the Plaza de Armas, and you'll find numerous small stores with handbags, shoes, and other items.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.