Published: May 22nd 2009May 22nd 2009
After leaving the heady heights of Macchu Pichu and Cusco it was on to the coldest bus in the world for a night bus to Arequipa, where we had plans to spend a few days doing Spanish and a trip to Colca Canyon, most of which went to plan. The city of Arequipa was really beautiful, with lots of Colonial architecture and impressive buildings. The fact that it is also set deep in a valley in between an enormous active volcano and snow-capped mountains made it all the better.
Our first day was spent in a tired haze looking for Spanish lessons which we believed had been successful and on tuesday morning it was up early with a bowl of Cornflakes (oh the luxury!) and off to Spanish school to broaden our minds. Our lesson began by us detailing what we wanted to learn and ended with 2 of the 3 hours reading from a local newspaper, which was constantly being corrected for grammar and spelling mistakes by our teacher, needless to say not what we had requested. Said teacher also referred to our grammar book to look for the names of tenses and general hints, so all in all
whilst hilarious not that productive. We decided that day 2 would be a complete waste of time so our imaginary friend suddenly became very ill in another city, meaning that we would be unable to attend any more lessons and would require half our money back. In the ensuing argument in which we were shown a piece of paper with terms and conditions and a blank line where we hadn´t signed, we were able to gain more Spanish practice than in the 3 hr extortionately priced lesson. We successfully gained a refund, although only because I fear the receptionist believed Ben´s threat that he would sit in the office until the money had been returned.
So after the first part of our reason to visit Arequipa was unsuccessful it was on to the second part, Colca Canyon. Which I have to say exceeded all expectations, and due to our wily ways of second guessing the price of the tour company´s restaurant choices our pre-made ham and cheese sandwiches made the whole trip a bargain! The first day of the trip was spent mainly in the van passing through the incredible scenery surrounding Arequipa, which included scaling the dizzy heights
of 4800 metres where it was actually snowing, and stopping in many unfortunately laid tourist traps where traditionally dressed locals would welcome you with any goods that could be made from Alpaca or the occasional llama for good measure.
The second was really the main event and that it was. We were up at 5 am to ensure that we reached the Cruz del Condor, the best place in the world to see Condors according to our guide, in time to see them take their morning flight. Whether it is the best place to see them in the world is up for debate but seeing the Condors with their 3 metre wing span flying no more than 6 or 7 feet away from you, in the setting of the deepest canyon in the world (again up for debate) was impressive to say the least.
We are now in Puno, which is not a patch on Arequipa but is the gateway in to Bolivia where we shall be heading tomorrow, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Tom and wondering whether our Bolivianos are real or fake, apparently it is all in the watermark!
There are more photos below