We are in Arequipa. After all that travel stress in Cusco (having to get up at like 2:30 am / 4:00 am, etc. a lot and returning late) we just wanted to have a day off. And finally, after a very pleasant cama bus ride that day had come. Cama means bed and it’s basically the first class, where the seat reclines about 160 to 180 degrees and you have lots of space.
Arequipa is also called “la ciudad blanca” – the white city. And even though the houses are white, the origin of this name lies somewhere different. The city had been a famous place for the Spanish conquistadors to settle. White city referred to the white skin of the inhabitants back in the day. Nowadays that doesn’t make sense anymore, so in the 70s they decided to paint all the colorful houses white to fit the name. That’s why it’s actually a white city today. White and pretty. It has gorgeous old buildings and a beautiful historical center with a square (Plaza de Armas – the name for the main square in many South American cities), a big church and cute streets. It’s not as touristy as Cusco, so you get to see some normal city life. We strolled around, went to eat at a roof top café and to the Basilica Cathedral. That holy house is almost 500 years old but has been destroyed and rebuilt several times due to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It’s museum contains lots of valuable, golden religious items, one of which is worth around 50.000.000 Dollars (because it still has all its diamonds – many of the other items’ rocks had been stolen back in the day). The evening I spent relaxing in our very nice room while Marius and Roxana made Guacamole and very tasting, fresh fruit salad. This night we slept well and long.
Today we hired a guide and went to the Yura region, a very beautiful place outside Arequipa. We hiked through a narrow gorge, over rocks and mainly through the Corontorio, a small river that formed that gorge. At the end we arrived at the canyon that is formed by a picturesque waterfall, Catarata de Corontorio. I has been an awesome trip, very refreshing and not crowded at all. After the walk we stopped by at Pozo el Tigre, thermal, medical baths containing several volcanic minerals. We had to rent out hair covers, got changed and jumped in. The bath is indoors and has 6 different small pools, each of them are meant to be good for different types of sicknesses and corporal annoyances like digestive problems, rheumatism, eye infections. My favorite pool was the one that had bubbles. My least favorite was the pool that literally dissolved the top layer of my wedding ring – which is now black/blue/purple and looks like raw metal…
The following two days we went trekking in the Canyon de Colca – the third deepest canyon in the world. There are towns all around it, founded in colonial times and inhabitant by the Collugua and Cabana people, who try to maintain their local traditions and cultures. After watching Condors circle around at the Cruz del Condor, we hiked all the way down to an oasis in the valley, that’s fed by the Colca river. This is also where we spent the first night in basic bungalows, with a pool and happy hour bar. The hike was all right, the group and guide really nice and we had a good time. Next day though, we had to get up at 4 am to hike up more than 1000 meters. We had seen the path the evening before and it looked like a bitch. But never underestimate the power of three bananas for breakfast, lots of water and pasta for dinner… I didn’t find it too tough and I think it’s due to decent nutrition and early sleep. After a little more then 2 hours I made it and felt good. Later that day I got rewarded with some Colca Sour (a version of the South America wide famous drink Pisco Sour), that, instead of lime juice includes sancayo juice, which is the fruit of a local cactus. And I got to pet a 12 day old, fluffy baby alpaca.