From Cusco we flew toward the Peruvian coast and the city of Arequipa. Known as the WhiteCity due to the paler complexion of its inhabitants (obviously they had never seen a Scotsman when this tag was acquired) this was our base for a two day, one night trip into the ColcaCanyon valley.
The first night we stayed in a very nice hotel in the centre of Arequipa and enjoyed an excellent dinner at the nearby Zig Zag restaurant. The trade mark of Zig Zag is to serve your meat (beef, alpaca or ostrich) sizzling on a hot clay plate; as you can see from the photos they also provided protective bibs. I tried the Alpaca, which was fantastic, and never one fond of meat Hannah had a bowl of soup! The waiter still tried to give her a bib though.
From Arequipa we boarded our mini bus and drove out into the Colca Canyon Valley. By this time our entire group had seen and eaten enough Alpacas and Lamas to last a life time, so when our tour guide Erika kept pulling over to enable us to take photos she was slightly flummoxed when all 8 of us simply turned our heads and tried to fall back asleep. This was a general theme for the remaining day and a half of this trip. Having already been in Bolivia and indeed just completed the Inca Trail we had obviously become slightly blasé with regards the Andean scenery. The Colca Canyon is apparently one of the world's deepest canyons however no matter how hard Erika tried she failed to find a view point that impressed us sufficiently to leave the sanctuary of our mini bus seat and take a photo.
After hours in the bus on incredibly bumpy roads we arrived at our hotel in the mid afternoon, which was the best we had stayed at all trip.We had lunch and hiked up a nearby hill for a panoramic view of the valley before heading off to some hot springs. The spring complex had been constructed into a series of 5 or 6 swimming pools where the naturally hot water was channeled into.Only one pool was open to tourists. According to Erika it was because they cleaned that one and not the one for the locals. In truth the springs seemed like a series of hot dirty swimming pools.
From here we went to dinner, more Alpaca, and were treated to a local dancing show.On the way back to the hotel the sky was incredibly clear enabling us to see the Southern Cross star constellation.
The following morning we were awoke at 4am in order to drive two hours on a bumpy dirt track to Condor Point to view the large birds of prey. When we finally arrived the point was a mass of screaming school children and although we caught a glimpse of some Condors in the distance it in no way justified the early start. Slightly tired and disappointed we made the long bus trip back to Arequipa.
After recharging the batteries slightly, Hannah and I enjoyed a dinner on our own which was great before meeting the rest of the group for a few drinks.The following day we explored the Plaza de Armas and local shopping centre before lunch in a traditional Peruvian courtyard restaurant and catching the night bus to Nazca and the coast.