Arequipa and the Colca Canyon


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South America » Peru » Arequipa » Colca Canyon
March 5th 2011
Published: March 25th 2011
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The city of Arequipa sits at an altitude of 2,335 metres above sea level in a mountainous desert in the western Andes, at the foot of El Misti volcano.

We awoke in Arequipa after our 16hr bus ride and set off for our hostel 'Arequipay Backpacker's House', when we got there we were amazed - the hostel was by far the nicest we had stayed at with a huge kitchen with lots of equipment, free internet access, pool table, swimming pool and two huge tv's, one of which was in it's own cinema room with a stack of dvd's! Travelling gold!

After settling into our room we headed off to the nearest shopping centre to get some food and to have a look around the shops! Although it's as cheap in Peru to eat out than to buy all your food, we had missed cooking so much that we decided to get some food from the supermarket and make use of the lovely big kitchen back at the hostel where we made one of our favourite dishes - chilli prawn pasta - which ended up costing us more than a meal out but we had missed it so much we didn't care, plus we had enough for 2 servings so we made it again the next night! James also treated himself to ANOTHER pair of shoes - havainas again which we found for 4 pounds!! Bargain!

On our second day we headed to the city centre to fix the broken camera (due to sandboarding) and to check out the Plaza de Armas and the 'Ice Queen' museum to see Juanita. Juanita was the frozen body of an Inca girl who was discovered on one of the Volcanos about 15 years ago. She lived to be approximately 11–15 years old, and probably died sometime between 1450 and 1480 as part of a religious sacrifice to the Inca gods.

The main reason for heading to Arequipa was to visit the Colca Canyon - the deepest canyon in the world - and to have the opportunity to spot some condors, large birds of prey that have the largest wing span (at 3.2 m) of any land bird. You can do a 3 day trek of the canyon, however time was short and we had had enough trekking on the Inca trail so we settled for a one day tour of the canyon. This involved being picked up at 3am in a mini-van and driving the 3 hrs to the canyon. When we got on the mini-bus we were given some blankets as we were told it could get quite cold, when we asked how cold our guide said sometimes its -10 degrees!!! WHAT??!! We had not been told this and luckily I had packed a cardigan as we were just going to wear t-shirts!

Our first stop was at a volcano lookout point where you could see 5 volcanos in all directions! We then stopped in a small town where there was a guy who had a huge bird of prey, not sure what it was but James and I both had our pictures taken with it (it was quite scary as it was HUGE) before we moved on to one of the main attractions, the Cruz del Condor lookout point. We were told that it wasn't really the season to see Condors so we may not be able to see any, but we were very lucky and managed to see 6! On a good day though you can expect to see about 30! We also drove to see the Canyon but unfortunately we couldn't see very much of it as it was a bit foggy, however we still got to see the Colca valley and the scenery was beautiful.


After our tour we headed back to Arequipa to book our very long journey (3 days) to Santiago and then on to Mendoza. Luckily we found a bus for the next morning at 6am - lie in for us!! We then headed back to our lovely hostel where we had a Dominos pizza (James ordered the largest one on the menu which was enormous!), a film and an early night for our last day in Peru after being there for over a month!


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