Dinosaurs in Peru? Yes. About 150 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the area of what today is a wide and desert gorge of the western Andes mountains that joins the Valley of the Majes River in southern Peru leaving their footprints behind. These petrified footprints and other fossils found in the same area inspired regional authorities to create the small, but lovingly designed and outfitted Parque Jurasico de Querulpa (Jurassic Park of Querulpa). A must for all dinosaur fans and amateur paleontologists.
Discovery of dinosaur footprints
In 2002, while exploring the area and, according to their own accounts, following a swarm of bees, three youngsters spotted unusual, petrified impressions on the rocky ground of the Querulpa hill located in the small street village of the same name in the district of Aplao in the Castilla province of the Arequipa region. Convinced that they discovered dinosaur footprints (or at least something special) they informed the local authorities about their findings.
And, after paleontologists and geologists carried out studies, it was confirmed: the boys really found dinosaur footprints most probably dating back to the Late Jurassic Period. Further exploration revealed 69 dinosaur footprints in different sizes, which most probably were left by sauropods, theropods and ornithopods, and a number of ancient fossils of ancient sea creatures and even a crocodile.
Creation of the Dinosaur Park
To protect this unique discovery and boost tourism in the area, a project was developed with the goal to create a dinosaur park open to the public. And finally in 2019, the Parque Jurasico de Querulpa, which often as well is called Parque de Dinosaurios (Dinosaur Park), was inaugurated.
What to expect at the Jurassic Park of Querulpa
On a tour through the area you can view some amazing life-size sculptures of dinosaurs believed to have inhabited this land including a Diplodocus, Brontosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor, and others, check out the real petrified dinosaur footprints, be amazed by the view of the valley from the observation platform, enjoy the lovely cactus garden and visit the on-site museum, where findings made in the area are on display.
All in all the Jurassic Park of Querulpa is a small, but nice place created with lots of effort and passion. Great for young and old dinosaur fans to spend an hour or two.
Visitor Information for the Dinosaur Park in Querulpa
The Parque Jurasico de Querulpa is located 168km (100 miles) west of Arequipa in the district of Aplao in the Castilla province, far off the beaten tourist path. To enjoy your visit be aware that it can get dusty and that the sun can be brutal. So, wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes, put on sun block and wear a hat / cap and sunglasses. Have some water with you.
How to get to the Jurassic Park of Querulpa
Address: Hacienda Querulpa Chico, Aplao, Castilla, Arequipa
Booked tour: Lots of tour operators in Arequipa offer day tours to the Jurassic Park of Querulpa often combined with a trip to the Petroglyphs of Toro Muerto and/or the Chancharay springs. If you want a carefree and relaxed tour worth the expense.
By public bus: You can take a bus at the central bus station from Arequipa to Aplao. Ask the driver to drop you off at the entrance of the Parque de Dinosaurios. The trip takes 3h to 3.5h.
By car: Leave Arequipa towards Lima on the Panamerica Sur. After the city of Majes turn right towards Aplao. Follow the road for the next 53km until you reach Querulpa Chico. The entrance is to your left directly on the main road.
Opening hours: daily 07.00 am to 04.00 pm
Entrance fee: the entrance is free, however consider leaving a tip for your local guide
What else to do in the area?
As you are already in the area, don’t miss the Thermal baths of Chancharay just 20 minutes north of Querulpa. Here cold mineral waters gush out of the foothills of the Tomaca hill. They are believed to cure all sorts of stomach conditions and rheumatism and boost fertility. So, take your swim wear with you and enjoy the refreshment. And, try the delicious Majes shrimps.
Just 10 minutes to the south of Querulpa are the Petroglyphs of Toro Muerto, the largest and one of the most impressive pre-Colombian rock art complexes in the Americas. Since 2019, the complex is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
And last but not least, if you are a real dinosaur fan or amateur paleontologist, you might want to invest another hour and drive about 55 km (about 35 miles) north to the Tipan district. Here, just off the main road rocks with more petrified dinosaur footprints can be found. There is no fence, no protection, nothing, just a sign with a short explanation and the dinosaur footprints of Capiza.