Arequipa, Southern Peru – Impressions

Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru with 900,000 people next to Lima (with 9 million) and is the capital of the south. The centre of Arequipa gives a similar impression to that of the ancient Incan capital Cusco, a ten hour bus ride away. A beautifully set up cobbled main plaza with cathedral on one side…
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…and many tour agencies and restaurants trying to hawk for your business on the others.

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Peruvians seem fascinated by fountains and while there aren’t as many here as their was in Cusco, there are plenty. Along one side of the plaza is an open air mall with plentiful shops restaurants and the like.

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On the horizon outside the city is a tall range of mountains, and a solitary volcanic cone called Misti Mountain that’s said to spend most of the year surrounded in mist. Although I’ve been here a week and have yet to see it shrouded. It’s a two day climb up and down the 6000m cone.

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Between the city and the mountains is river where several groups host rafting, and while it’s only a short experience – 90 minutes max – the level 3 and 4 rapids are fun, although not as intense as my previous rafting experience in the Waikato, New Zealand.

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There are plentiful museums and monasteries in the city, one hosted an exhibition known as the Ice Girl. In the time of the Incans she was sacrificed to the angry mountain gods. At 11 years old she had to walk 170 miles from Cusco before climbing Misti Mountain to die and ascend to live among the gods. She went willingly and it was seen as an honour to be sacrificed. Many similar sacrifices were made along the mountains from northern Argentina to Peru. Her preserved body is on display in a special glass freezer case.

The most popular reason people come to Arequipa is for Peru’s third most popular tourist attraction, Colca Canyon. Colca Canyon is said to be the second deepest canyon in the world, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US. I managed a 3 day solo hike through the canyon and it was amazing. A post of its own is coming shortly.

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Next I’m off to the city of Ica, south of Lima to see the Red Beaches of Paracas and do some sand boarding.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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