Perú: Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Hi everyone!  Hope you’re enjoying the weekend!  Can’t believe it’s already football season!  I re-joined an all girls fantasy football league after a year hiatus and am so out of the loop!  We’ll see how well my team actually does….

Anyways, this will be my last Peru post.  After our hellish overnight bus ride, we arrived to our last destination, Arequipa.  It’s the second largest city in Peru, but is still much smaller than Lima.  The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city is surrounded by 3 volcanoes.

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One of the 3 volcanoes

I liked Arequipa.  It is a pretty city with neat architecture and a chill vibe.  We relaxed a bit (aka watched GOT!) and explored a couple of neighborhoods along with joining a walking tour while in town.

Some city shots:

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Lunch at the local market
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Chupe de camarones (shrimp soup)!! It was delicious.
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Selfie with an alpalca

We also made it to see “momia Juanita” which translates to “mummy Juanita”.  She is a frozen well-preserved young Incan girl that was sacrificed to the Incan gods and found buried at the top of a dormant volcano.  She is one of several children that have been found on various mountains or volcanoes in the area.  Supposedly, the selected child was escorted to these locations high in the mountains.  Exhausted and cold, they were given “chicha”, a corn beer, and would fall asleep from the alcohol.  Then they would usually be hit on the head with a bat like object and buried with several different items that they had carried with them.  For the children, it was an honor to be sacrificed, they thought they’d be moving on to the next life and becoming like a deity.  They brought with them things that they thought they needed in the next life.  The museum showcased these items, like bowls, trinkets, bags along with the type of clothing they’d wear, and at the end we could see the mummifed 12-15 year old girl.  She was sooo tiny and it was a bit weird to see.  You weren’t allowed to take photos, but here is one that I found online.

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(Source)

The main highlight of our time in Arequipa was a 2 day / 1 night trek that we did at the nearby Colca Canyon.  This canyon is one of the deepest in the world and is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.  The trek consisted of walking down to a small oasis like town at the bottom, staying the night, and getting up bright and early to hike it up before it became too hot.  Jessie and I were debating doing it solo, but ended up going with a tour group since it was easier.

The canyon reminded me more of a valley and was actually very similar to the Chicamocha Canyon that I visited with my dad in Colombia.  It was definitely a challenging trek, but not too bad.  We were picked up from our hostel at 3:30am (ouch) and had a 3 hour ride to breakfast and then the trek began.  There were about 12 of us in the very diverse group of French, German, Scottish, English, and even an Italian couple that currently live in Gastonia, NC (small world huh!).

That first day was all downhill.  Jessie and I decided to consolidate our belongings into one overnight pack, so we took turns carrying it.  On the way down, the tips of my big toes started to feel like they were developing blisters from all the downhill pressure.  Luckily that didn’t happen though.  We stopped for lunch on the way down and when we finally made it to the bottom, we went for a swim at the lodge pool, showered, and joined everyone for a mini happy hour before dinner.  After dinner, we stargazed briefly (it was beautiful!) and passed out.  The following morning, we were up at 4:30am to start the 3-4 hour trek all uphill.  This was of course the most difficult part, especially considering we didn’t receive breakfast until we made it to the top.  We all stayed together for the first hour and then our guide let us split to go up at our own pace.  Snacks and water in hand, Jessie and I stuck together as we took turns carrying our backpack.  We took breaks as needed and finally made it to the top in right around 3 hours.  As always, the feeling of accomplishment after doing something like that was well worth it. 🙂

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The canyon is known for Condor spotting. Condors are massive, vulture type birds and are the national birds of Peru. We only spotted this one though.

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Change of scenery: Cacti everywhere.
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Our room at the lodge (made for short people haha)
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Relaxing in the pool
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Made it to the top!

On our way back to Arequipa, we made a couple of stops including a stop to see some beautiful terraces, a view point (also a high point at 4,900 m / 16,000 ft above sea level) in which you could see several surrounding volcanoes, and a visit to some thermals to relax a bit.

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Love this view!
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Mirador Los Andes view point (and high point!)
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We even saw one of the volcanoes smoking up in the distance.
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Chilling in the thermals with our new German and Scottish friends.

Well that is all I’ve got for this post.  Enjoy football Sunday and I’ll be back with my Argentinian adventures next!

Until then,

Kimberly

P.S. Google Photos Album Link:

Peru: Arequipa and Colca Canyon

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