Arequipa Peru, also known as the “White City”, is the second largest city in Peru and full of interesting history. Situated in the central area at an altitude of 2 400 metres it has pleasant year round weather, beautiful old buildings and is a central hub between the ocean desert and the tropical Amazon.
Our stay in Arequipa was busy. From the time we arrived till the time we left we were on the go. However It's an ideal city to stop and enjoy for a few days.
The old town has been preserved and has magnificent churches, museums and buildings
We stayed here for 2 days but felt it was too short. To really experience and appreciate Arequipa we should have stayed longer.
The Free Walking Tour of Arequipa Peru was an absorbing introduction to the town, and the history and culture of the area.
Johan, like many of the “Free Walking Tour” guides is a local with a passionate interest in the culture and history of his city. This was no different.
The tour started out with a cup of organic cacao tea which had very diverse reactions … “love it” or “hate it”!
This tour didn’t have too much walking but there was a lot of interesting information. Arequipa prides itself on its cultural image promoting books, art and music.
The architecture is mixed reflecting the various cultures which have influenced the area.
Afterwards we walked across the river and after taking in the views had lunch at a “picanteria” (a small local restaurant) where we had an Americano (a selection of various Peruvian dishes) and rocoto relleno (spicy peppers stuffed with meat, egg and vegetables) washed down with a few local beers.
Near Arequipa there are 3 volcanoes that are still active.
There are a number of options to experience the canyon. We opted for the one day “lazy” option and regret not taking the 3 day hike. The first two days are walking down and through the canyon with the third day is the steep hike out of the canyon … although there is always the “failed to make it” option of taking a donkey!
Colca Canyon one of the 5 deepest canyons of the world about 4 000 metres and is 140 kilometres long
Throughout the Canyon there are Inca sites and stunning views from the top of the terraced farming.
The tours start with pickups in town at 3 to 3:30 am and then a 2 hour drive to the canyon.
Entry fee 70 Soles … no USD and no credit cards!
After a breakfast at a local restaurant there we made a few stops on the way to the condor area.
Remember: No expectations and you won’t be disappointed or surprised.
The condor viewing area extended a couple of hundred metres and was crowded. The condors were magnificent as they swooped around within metres of the gawking “oohing” and “ahing” crowds. Trying to time their picture snapping.
Just before lunch we visited the “aguas calientes” (hot springs) to soak in the chemical rich pools. The pools vary in temperature up to about 40 degrees … hot but bearable. The break from the hot water is to take a dip in the chilly river that flows past.
After returning to the main village and a multi course buffet lunch we started on the road back to Arequipa. We stopped at the highest point at 4 900 metres with an uninterrupted view of the Misty volcano puffing clouds of smoky smoke.
Peru sits on the west side of the ring of fire and over the years has suffered a number of significant and sometimes very destructive earthquakes.
Vegetation is sparse but there are a lot of lakes and the river valleys are streams of green from the irrigated farmlands.
We drove through the National Park where there are herds and herds of alpacas, llamas and vicuñas. The alpacas and vicuñas being world renowned for their fine wool.
Vicuña wool is rare as the animal has a limited coat and can only be shorn every three tears. An off the peg vicuña sports jacket can cost upwards of US $21 000!!
The tour ended with drop-offs in Arequipa at about 5 pm … the end of a long day.
On a mission to help others expand their horizons. Who knows where they can end? Passionate about learning and embracing the changing world. Adventurous and skeptical but optimistic!