Once again sleep eluded me on the nightbus. It doesn´t matter how comfortable it is I only seem to get a maximum of around 2 hours. We checked into the hostal (La Posada del Cacique) which was great. Run by a really nice family, it is one of the best value places we have stayed in so far. Arequipa is a great city and my favourite so far. Great climate, relaxing main square, beautiful scenery etc.
We booked a trip to the Colca Canyon through the hotel and headed out into the sun. We had the most amazing pancakes at Zig Zags and visited the Museo Santuarios Andinos to see Juanita the Ice Mummy (who is only there from May to December). Juanita was an Incan girl sacrificed to the mountain Gods a long time ago (I was listening honestly!!) and was found at some point in the 1990´s by some yanks on the top of Ampato mountain). The afternoon was spent with a bottle of wine on the roof terrace which did send me to sleep.
On sunday (8th) we set off for the Colca Canyon stopping along the way for some great views of the mountains around Arequipa as well as Vicunas, Alpacas, Llamas, mountain bogs, ice walls and lots of locals in traditional clothing waiting at each stop to sell some tat and get their pics taken for some propina!!
We had a traditional lunch in Chivay, a dump of a town, before checking into the freezing hotel and heading out for a walk up a hill to see some burial grounds, pre incan agricultural terraces and some skulls! (Simone decided to stay in Chivay and get attacked by a small dog!). Following the walk we all headed to the thermal baths which was nice as the sunset in the freezing valley. The evening entertainment was a naff folkloric show which we ducked out of early with another couple to head to an Irish Bar (about as Irish as I am!) for some beer.
The 2nd day of the tour included some more small towns, some more scenic view points of terraces and the start of the canyon before the main event which was watching the condors hit the morning thermals at the Mirador del Condor. Our group was there until just after 10am, after the other groups had left, which happened to be when the Condors were at their highest. Following a lunch stop, again in Chivay, we had a very scenic drive back to Arequipa.
That evening we met up with Suzie and Jim and went for a minging Mexican meal with a prat of an owner who had a complete dislike for tourists!! The next day though we all had Zig Zag pancakes which are just gorgeous - probably the best food we have had in the past 2 months! The afternoon was spent wandering through Santa Catalina monastery which is well worth a visit before a nightbus to Cuzco around 8:30pm that evening.