Arequipa was my first stop after Cusco and I really liked this city, it’s totally different to Cusco. The architecture is very colonial. There is no trace of the Incas here. It’s known as “the white city” because all the buildings are white and some of the older ones are made of volcano magma.
The first day, I started with the “Free Walking Tour” of the city which was excellent. (I suggest you use the tour company whose guides wear green shirts). You get to try a lot of stuff and although it’s free, it’s customary to give the guide a tip at the end. Our guides took us to see great views of the volcanos: Misti (5,822m) and Chachani (6,057m).
The next day, I went to visit Santa Catalina monastery with two German girls from the hostel. The entry fee is 40 Soles (12$) and a guided tour (recommended) costs 20 Soles (6$). It’s the biggest monastery in the world (20,462 m2) and the most beloved religious building in Peru. It was built in 1579. In olden times, 420 nuns used to live there but now there are only 14 left. The nuns pray for seven hours each day, do charity work and tend the garden where they grow their own fruit and vegetables. Even though I’m not religious I enjoyed visiting the site; it was fascinating.
On Thursday I chilled at the hostel and did a few errands in the city. I went to the market, bought my bus ticket for Puno and booked my trip to the Colca Canyon for the next day (trip booked through the hostel, 55 Soles, 16$).
Friday morning, I had to wake up at stupid o’clock (2am) as it takes 5 hours to get to the Colca Canyon. The company picked me up at the hostel and we drove to Chivey where we had breakfast. To be honest I had the shittiest group ever and I didn’t enjoyed the day as much as I’d expected. However, I did get to see some condors, the second biggest bird on earth and the heaviest (14 kg). These birds are amazing! We stopped at a view point where we could watch them flying above us, rising with the thermals which means they don’t flap their wings much. They are massive and very impressive !
The Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world after the Cotahuasi Canyon, also situated in Peru. It’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA. I must say it’s pretty daunting to see those steep mountain sides plunging down into the narrow valley. The bus stopped at a few view points and the green, terraced landscape was breathtakingly beautiful. I would suggest you consider the longer trip (two to three days) as you can walk to the bottom of the canyon and sleep in an oasis. I really don’t recommend the day trip – too many hours on the bus. On our way back, we stopped at 4,950 metres high to enjoy a great view of the surrounding volcanoes. I slept a lot on the bus on the way back as the high altitudes knocks me out!. I was happy to get back to the hostel to have an early night.
On Saturday morning, I woke up at six o’clock and I left for Puno. I was happy to have taken a day trip as the landscape is fantastic, it’s a 6 hour trip from Arequipa to Puno and it cost me 59 Soles (18$).
Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing my blog. If you have any questions or would simply like to say hello, then please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you !