Arequipa - Colca Canyon
We left Lima for a short plane journey to Arequipa. Arequipa is a lovely little city nestled between the Andean mountains at an altitude of over 2000 metres with stunning views of various nearby mountains - as soon as we arrived we could definitly feel the drop in temperature at night.
Our hostal room was a bit basic and noisey but was in a good location and at least we had consistent hot water. As with all the cities, there is a main square which was very nice and we felt quite safe.
We visited the museum of the "Ice princess" Juanita who was sacrificed by the Incas to their Andean Gods at the age of about 12-14 yrs. Her body was well preserved in the frozen conditions and we were able to see her small but intact body on display which was pretty amazing considering she died over 500 years ago.
We also visited another monestary but this was by far more extravagent then the one in Ecuador. It was like a little city in its own right.
Whilst in Arequipa we booked a 3 day trekking trip to Colca Canyon which is the 2nd deepest Canyon in the world. We were picked up from our hostel at 3am and spent a wopping 6 hours getting there. Our first port of call was a viewpoint where we were lucky enough to see condors gliding effortlessly around us and the amazing views of the canyon. We then headed off to then main village of cabanaconde where we had lunch to build up our energy for the long hike down to the bottom of the canyon. This took us 3 hours of steep narrow paths shared with passing locals and mules before we finally reached the bottom only to be told by our guide that we had another 3 hours to go before we were to reach our bed for the night. Upon reaching the village we were pleasantly surprised by having our own room and a hot shower in a local's home ~ heaven!!! We spent the evening having dinner cooked by our guide Carlitos and the only other people on the trip who were a young English couple. The next morning we headed off for another couple of hours trekking to what was called the "Oasis" which was basically a man made green area with several swimming pools for tourists to relax. We spent a good few hours here chilling out and having lunch before we had to make the massive assent back up to the the top of the canyon! This was thirsty work especially as we were so unfit, the sun was beating down on us and it was really steep! 3 1/2 hours of sweat and pain later we finally made it to the top just as the sun was disappearing (thank god we invested in a good pair of trainers!) It was such a beautiful sight and what great practice for the Inca trail. We spent the night in the luxury of a hotel and had a well deserved lay before making the long bus jouney back to Arequipa. What a fantastic trip!!!
We spent one more night in Arequipa where we went out for dinner and drinks with a few friends before taking an overnight bus to Cusco.
Now that's another story.....