Arequipa's Day - 15 August
The Day of Arequipa is August 15, but the whole month is devoted to celebrate such date,especially from 12-19 August. There are several activities, like public acts, pasacalles, fight of bulls, Peruvian horse exhibitions, competitions about climbing the Misti volcano, etc. However, the principal ones that attract locals and youngsters are,
- the spectacles with fireworks the evening of Aug. 14, along with a serenade;
- a parade on Aug. 15, named Corso de la Amistad (Friendship Parade), with beauty queens and dance groups, and to which more than 100 000 people participate at any stage during the whole day, between locals and tourists; and
- the Music Festivity sponsored by Arequipean Beer. It takes place in Cerro Juli, and several pop artists and rock bands from Peru and Latin America are invited to perform. However, it seems like this year it will be discontinued. Hope not!!!
Hope one day you can come and enjoy them :-)
Canyon del Colca
The 2 days/1 night experience trought the canyon del colca is something you gotte really do in Arequipa. This journey will take you trough an amazing landscape, with volcanoes, rural villages, animals wherever, piecefull and quietness with a supreme scenario.
It starts from Arequipa early in the morning and on the first day you cross 5.700m , so do not forget to buy some hojas de coca... At the afternoon, after having passed rural villages, having met people on the way, alpaca, lamas and vicuNas, you will be taken in the hot bath, so you can enjoy a bath into a swimming pool with 40C hot water...amazing! Then you have to choose were to sleep; there are three options: colca lodge which is the most expensive but the most confortable (see my accomodation tip) or in some guesthouses. We book in colca lodge and the entire journey costed us 35USD.
In the afternoon you will be taken to a tipical mountain market, fullfilled of peruvian trying to sell a lot of stuff...very imprressive.
At day 2, very early in the moprning, you will be taken to cerro del condor, where the condors are flying just 5 meters above your head...woow!
In the afternoon you will be taken back to Arequipa.
COLCA CANYON HIKE I
There are many tours being sold as just a 2-day-1-night bus tour, or 2-day-1-night or 3-day-2-night Colca Canyon trek. The tour I took was a combination of the bus tour and a 2-day-1-night trek.
Leaving Arequipa, you can admire the various impressive volcanoes - Pichu Pichu, El Misti and Chachani. You should stop in the middle of a desert plateau to have a cup of mate de coca, to help with acclimatization.
The next part of the journey is through very high and dry lands, with not a tree in sight, just cacti and licho, the high-plain grass. You might spot some pretty, golden-furred vicuñas as there is a reserve where the authorities are trying to rear them back from near-extinction.
At the highest pass of this trip - 4,800m, the bus will stop briefly for photo-taking. There is frankly not much of a view, as the surrounding area is very high as well, so we could not really 'look down' at rest of the Andes mountains. Interesting to observe are the small rocks stacked on top of one another all over this area by previous tourists.
Lunch is at a touristy and expensive restaurant (15 soles at least). But after that, we were driven merely a couple more blocks and told to get off at our hostel. Damn, we had already arrived in Chivay and there were some restaurants selling lunch for more or less 5 soles. Rats! I hate organised tours who bring us to exorbitantly-priced restaurants.
I had imagined Chivay to be an isolated little innocent town. But this is Peru, which attracts possibly the largest number of foreign tourists in South America, and they know they had to milk every possible soles out from the tourists’ pocket. So, Chivay has been transformed to have numerous hotels as well as pizza restaurants which accept credit cards.
Rest of the afternoon is spent here in Chivay. You might be brought to La Calera, a thermal pool, an hour’s walk away.
For dinner, you will be brought to a restaurant with folkloric dances. Another tourist trap. But, this must be the restaurant with the most HILARIOUS menu. Check it out!
Arequipa: La Cuidad Blanca
Arequipa is the second most important city of Peru. It is on the south of the country on a fertile valley and on tha shade of the Misti Volcano, which is the emblem of the city. Arequipa was founded in 1540 and is a magnificient work of art. It has one the beautiful main squares of the country and many beautiful monuments of baroque, nea-classic and renaissance styles. Arequipa is known as the "Cuidad Blanca" (White City), due to the color of the volcanic rock sillar, used in the construction of colonial houses. Arequipa is famous by the deepest canyon in the world, the colca and the cotahuasi canyons. The city also has several museums , among which is the one of "Juanita mummy", an inca virgin discovered in 1955. Recently UNESCO declared the city as mankind's Historical Monument. Arequipa is a clear blue-sky city where many poets and imporant political people have been born.