Departure from Arequipa's Rodríguez Ballón International airport brings with it a few thrills. It stands at 2562m above sea level, underneath the twin volcanic cones of Misti and Chachani.
With the high likelihood of clear weather, landing or departure can provide stunning closeup views of the volcanoes during the required steep climbs and descents.
A taxi to or from town cost just 15 sol in 2008, and took only 15 minutes.
I was trying to get some info on how to get to Canon de Colca and also on how to get to Cuzco. IT found it difficult for the following reasons:-
* all the travel agents in Arequipa have signs saying ´free tourist information'. What a load of bollocks. They offer free info on trips and tours etc that they can sell you, anything else, forget it. They are also quite pushy and determined to make that sale. One place, a place with Schweiz or similar in the name had a guy who particularly pushy, indeed me put me off and I went elsewhere.
* It doesn't seem far away but Canon de Colca takes some getting to if you are in a hurry. Consider staying the villages nearer. The nearest things available to a day trip to the canon leave around 2 - 3 am. All of them want to give you full tour of the area leading up to the canon (fair enough I suppose if you have the time), stopping at pre arranged place to eat and buy stuff from the tourist shops, and also to look at the condors and stop at hot pool. None whisk you straight through on the bus to the canon before whisking you back to Arequipa.
Getting to Cuzco by bus is fine if you want to night travel. Day travel is trickier. The bus station has no centralised bus travel info and all the different bus companies only have info on their buses. Thus there´s maybe 20 - 30 desks you can go to trying to find the right info. There are some daytime services to Cuzco with the latest leaving Arequipa at 9 am run by Civa. It was scheduled to take 10 hours but took nearer 11. Its an ecomomy bus rather than one with the 160 degree reclining seats but for a day time bus the recliners are less important.
The scenery on route is pleasant enough if unremarkable and you won´t miss anything that way if you travel by night.
Our route was to take us from Arequipa to Cuzco. Due to the difference in altitude we decided that it would be easier on our bodies to take a bus to Cuzco than fly. We were also not particularly in a hurry and we knew we could take an overnight bus.
Our hostal helped us organise the tickets with the bus company CIAL who offered a quality service between these two cities. CIAL also operate in other parts of Peru. The CIAL office in Arequipa is located at the "Terrapuerto" on Av. Arturo Ibañez, Counter 10 - 11.
Our ticket cost 50 Soles each for the Semi-Cama bus service plus we had to pay 2 Soles each departure tax inside the bus terminal in Arequipa.
Our first experience of the Arequipan taxis was from the airport to the center of town. We took one of the ubiquitous yellow Daewoo taxis who charged us 15 Soles for the ride. Most of Arequipa's sites are within walking distance so we didn't bother to take another taxi until we needed to go to the bus station for our bus to Cuzco.
I was travelling to Arequipa from Santiago, Chile and found the cheapest way to get there was to take a domestic flight from Santiago to Arica and then cross the border by taxi into Tacna, Peru. From there we were going to take a bus but we were told that for a few $ more we could fly and be there in 30 minutes instead of 7 hours so that decided it.
We flew AeroCondor and the ticket cost US$40 including taxes. In Arequipa the office is located at Portal San Agustin 145 and phone (054) 283981
It is the cheapest, fastest and most comfortable way of going around Arequipa. Prices range from US$1-3, depending on the area. Some taxi cabs can also perform as "touristic guides" (my taxi cab took us in an all-day trip to downtown, Yanahuara and Sachaca for 100 soles, around US$33, and he was well-instructed).
You can go to Arequipa with comfort and at a reasonable price by bus. The least expensive (and most decent) bus enterprises takes from 50 to 150 soles (around US$15 - US$40) and the trips lasts around 14 hours. There are other lines whose fares are even cheaper, but they have no guarantee or good reputation, so you may be at risk of travelling in an overcrowded car, that makes a stop every km., or that gets out of order every 5 minutes.
The most recommendable bus enterprises are
-Cruz del Sur (web in Spanish)
-Oltursa (web in Spanish)
-Transporte Interprovincial Ormeno (web in Spanish)
Arequipa's airport is served by Lan Peru airlines, Taca Air, and Aero Condor. It's only an hour to or from Lima and just a tad over a half hour to or from Cusco. Check the websites for prices.
A taxi to the city center from the airport should cost only about 10 Soles, so if the driver is trying to charge you significantly more than that, it's probably because you're a Gringo!
The photo opportunities from the airport are great. You'll have the best view in town of both Misti and Chachani (the volcano and mountains in the background) from the runway upon departing the plane or from the viewing platform on the second level of the airport just outside the restaurant/bar.
All airlines in Peru will tell you to get to the airport two hours in advance. This is apparently because they change flights at a moment`s notice and may leave an hour earlier than scheduled. We reconfirmed our flight from Puno (Juliaca - JUL) to Arequipa on TansPeru two days before we left.
We arrived at the airport about an hour and 35 minutes before the flight and found that it had been moved from an 8:40 a.m. departure to a 7:40 a.m. departure!! We barely made the flight!
So, if you`re travelling on a schedule and don`t have the time to spend an extra day in a certain city, but sure to get to the airport at least two hours in advance!!!
You can reach Arequipa directly by air from Lima (1 hour ride) and Cusco (half an hour trip). All airlines (e.g. TACA Peru, Lan Peru, Aviandina) takes you to the Alfredo Ramirez Ballón airport for a reasonable price. You can check prices and availability on:
-Lan Peru (English version)
- TACA (English/Spanish version)
The easiest and the cheapest way to get to Arequipa is by bus. there are two main routes, one from the north cost, i.e. Lima-Pisco.-Ica and the othere one is for the north-east i.e. Puno.
We took the OrmeNo bus (the main company) from Pisco to Arequipa, for somthing like 40 Soles.
The buses are ok, and the way is also fine.
COntact any travlel agent but take care about their commission!
If you're flying into or out of Arequipa Airport have your camara ready as you board/deboard the plane. You'll be outside on the walk between the plane and airport and during this time you'll have the opportunity to take some great pictures of El Misti and Chachani. This is probably the best vantage point in the city from which to view the volcanoes (even better than the mirador in Yanahuara).
Taxi from the Arequipa Airport to the city center(close to Plaza de Armas) should run about 8-10 Soles. As always you'll find it a little more difficult to negotiate at the airport because the taxistas assume you're a gullible tourist. Be firm, but polite.
Taxis from the city center to the suburb of Yanahuara should run about 2-2.5 Soles
I would not know how to call this vehicle other than a 70's looking van turned bus. It is a very cheap ride to get to where you're going, but a knowledge of where you're going and a good knowledge of spanish is required. It can also get very crowded, but it is a fun and interesting experience.
Getting to Arequipa
I reccomend travelling with Flores, they have new buses and offer a good service arriving on time to the final destiny.
From Lima S/.70 best service dorado
From Cuzco S/.35. imperial service
From Tacna S/.35.00 best service