colca canyon tours
most people who comes to arequipa come for the main reason for using it as a base to explore the stunning colca canyon. this is definitely a must to do, just dont forget to allow a day or two to actually explore arequipa itself!
there are numerous agencies advertising all throughout the streets of arequipa, offering overnight packages into the colca canyon. most follow the same pattern - leave arequipa, spend the night at chivay, see the condors, then return arequipa late next afternoon. of course, you can spend longer and do longer tours, or your own exploration if you wish, but due to short time, we found a overnight trip perfect for our schedule.
we used anamelba colca tours. anamelba was most helpful, and was easy to work with when i booked 2 months earlier through the internet.
see the 'ice maiden'
there are not too many places in the world where you can see the preserved body of someone from 500 years ago, but here in arequipa, you can. the famously known "juanita" was a young girl found on the glaciar of the nearby nevado ampato mountain. because of the glaciar, she was perfectly preserved, and to this very day, you can see her in an ice case, skin and all, and perfectly clear, the blow to the head that copped as a sacrifice to the gods. it is definitely a surreal thing to see!!
located at the museo de la universidad catolica de santa maria (or the museo santury for short), this exhibition is actually very tastefully and well done. upon entering you will watch a small documentary on a screen, explaining about her life and how the explorers discovered her remains. from there you explore a few various rooms with a guide (only guided tours allowed), explaining what they found on her body, or around her, and some other remains and artifacts. then in the final room, you can come close to the glass case that holds this precious child.
the museo has an entry fee of $US4.50 and is open between 9-6 mon - sat. (closes 3pm sunday). please note though, that the "star attraction" - juanita, is not on display from january to april. instead, another child also found locally takes her place. also note that photography is strictly forbidden - they have lockers you can place them in. one guy on our little tour snuck his camera in, and when he got caught taking a quick pic, they roughed him out pretty quickly! there is always an idiot isnt there?
Yanahuara ,is a very traditional white stone built town of Arequipa.
It has a beautiful view of the city and the misti volcan. It is the favorite place choose by just married couples to make pictures after their wedding .
At night many arequipenos enjoys some drinks in the weekends.
Condors, Canyons, Protests and Nuns in Arequipa
"Catholicism and Marches"
My experiences of Arequipa have been good, if not a little surreal. Starting with meeting a couple of guys from Slovenia, who were on an uber bus ride from the Puenas Areneas in the South of Chile to Cusco (85hour bus trip - mad), and discussing the World Cup with them, and an American mother and son pairing, who were in love with Ireland and how pretty it is. We then got a rather stuff and noisy hostel in town, though the owners were lovely, and then promptly became ill. Over the course of our time in Arequipa Sarah was ill for most of it, and I for part. The town of Arequipa is very pretty, especially the centre, but again, as with Cusco, tourist mayhem. Also there seemed to be protests and marches on everyday while we were there, something to do with money and education (sounds familiar), and I thought that Arequipa was THE conservative town in Peru? This was quite good though, as they had to stop the traffic through the main square, so there was less chance of being run over by taxis.
We visited the Convento de al Santa Catalina, just up from the main square. As a building and complex in its own right, it is lovely, winding streets, small tree filled patios and bright colours, with rather attractive murals around the cloisters. But again the history was rather strange, I found. Built in 1579, it was a convent to worship god and live in chastisy and poverty. Hmm, my idea of poverty doesn´t include only having one servant (a law brought in later, god knows how many they had in the first place), not being allowed to kill ants, but it is ok to have slave girls. Wondering around the attractive courtyards, I think it must have been quite a cushty life, most afternoons seemed to be free, with only half an hour of worship or meditation in the afternoon and morning, after a little hard work and mass in the morning. Oh yeah, and only those of Spanish decent were allowed to enter (unless a slave of course). I think that most of those rules have changed now, but I can imagine not without much protesting.
"Condors and Stomach Cramps"
As Sarah wasn´t feeling to grand we had a couple of days of rest, which I quite enjoyed too, we managed to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was VG, must better than the last film, and did a bit of shopping etc. We also booked a 2 day trip to the Colca Canyon, one of the largest in the world, with the chance of seeing condors.
The night before we left Sarah was quite ill, with bad stomach problems, and I developed them in the middle of the night. Not to go into any details, but I was up a lot form about 2am onwards. The next day we were picked up at 8.30am, by the company and our guide Cesar, who thought for the first couple of hours that we were hungover, until it became clear that we definitely were not. Oh I felt terrible on that journey across the mountains, and just wanted to sleep, which Cesar was loathed to allow. We stopped at various points along the road, to admire the scenery or look at vicunas (funny deer like creatures), and if I felt better I am sure I would have appreciated them more. So I felt terrible, and that combined with the slightly crazy and twiddly Andean music that they played all the time, made me feel worse.
We arrived in Chivay at lunch time, and the place we were stopping for the night, I managed a little vegetable soup. Then went straight to bed. It was rather frustrating, as couldn´t make it out to the folklore evening or the thermal baths that evening, and found that the only way I felt OK was to lie very still on my back. It was grim.
The following day we headed off to the Colca Canyon. Sarah was still not feeling good either, she had managed to get out to the stuff in the evening (and had to put up with Cesar being sleezy - what is it with Peruvian men and white girls?). So though I was feeling much better, I was not great. The canyon was pretty amazing, the depth of it! We were at a point that was 1.2km deep, but it goes down to 4.5km! The colours of the rock, the rugged mountains above with their glaciers, the tiny Inca roads that wind out of them, the small terraces and the villages that are huddled along the bottom. It is out of another time. And we saw condors!! Well only the one, but it was a magnificant bird, huge and silent, swooping around the canyon and ignoring (seemingly) the large groups of people gathered at the look out point to see them. The range of people astounded me just as much though, irrate French and German obsessives, that spent half their time shouting at the groups of teenage girls, there on a school trip, from screaming so much, me being ill, and lots of half interested people, there because they felt they should be (I have a feeling that I nearly fit into this group too).
It was a great experience though, and I am glad that I went, even with the dodgy tum!