I actually liked Arequipa for what it was. Its not quite as good as Cusco for history or the surrounding area but its still pretty nice. The big plus is that its not quite as ‘gringo’ ready, although still is full of bars and restaurants.
Some of the architecture is stunning though and is very different to what we have seen in South America so far.
The walking tour we did here was amazing. The guide was really knowledgable and took us to pretty much every hotspot the city had to offer and if we couldn’t go to it, we were told about it.
We started off in the main Plaza de Armas which is a beautiful centre to the city. A huge cathedral on the north side towers over the rest of the plaza with its huge bell towers. The plaza was lined with some bars and restaurants which if you went to the 3rd floor you could get an amazing view of the plaza and a good chunk of the city including the El Misti volcano.
We continued round the city to see some of the great architecture most of which was carved from volcanic sillar rock in the historic centre. The quality of the carvings to the front of some of the buildings is amazing. A lot of the carvings have a mix of European, Andean and indigenous meanings with crests, condors and faces representing different things.
The tour also takes you to Mundo Alpaca where you can get inside a pen with some Alpacas, Llamas and Vicuñas which was great for a quick selfie!
Cañon de Colca
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Peru is a decent day out. The cañon thats almost twice as deep as the Grand Cañon in the USA is home to some of the biggest birds in the world, the Condor. We waited patiently to see them in action at Cruz del Condor at the furthest point of our trip.
We were disappointed just after 3 of them became active when a group of noisy Peruvian school kids sat next to us and were shouting and screaming at each other not even bothering to look into the cañon below. This in turn scared them all into spiralling up as high as they could get in the sky and eventually they were just a little black dot.
We stopped off to see the huge paddies that were created by the indigenous tribes many years ago that are still functioning today by water supplied from the surrounding mountains. They are over 500 years old and still are fully functioning.
We stopped at a small village or 3 to try their very own take on the Pisco Sour, the Colca Sour. It tasted pretty much identical but this cocktail is made from the fruit of a cactus found inside the valley/cañon. We tried the raw fruit which was so sour my face turned inside out.
After I’d pulled my face back the right way round we headed back towards Arequipa and stopped at the highest point I have been to in my life at around 4,910 meters above see level. The air was noticeably thinner and taking in a breath was a little harder than normal.
Nice city overall with a few things to do in and around. If you want to book a cooking course or a Spanish lesson do so in advance as we tried to do it on the day and neither had any spaces at all and I really do need to work on my Spanish… OK and cooking!
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