Posted by: robinson2000 | March 14, 2011

Enter the Valley of the Volcanoes

11th – 14th March – After our exertions on the Machu Picchu trail, we took it easy in the gringo capital of Cuzco for a couple of days before mustering enough will power to catch a bus to Arequipa. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, Rice didn´t book a bus ticket at the same time as us which left him running around town like a blue arse fly, trying to get a ticket in time for the 8.30pm night bus. Hilariously the agency who he had booked with gave him a ticket for a 7.30pm bus, which would have been fine except by this point it was 7.45pm. In typical Peruvian fashion they insisted that he could still make the bus and even paid for his taxi to the terminal. Shockingly when Rice turned up to the terminal the bus had departed and he was left standing there with a useless 50 Sol ticket. In the meantime, myself and Mr Spicer had boarded our luxury double decker bus, and were comfortably sitting at the front of the top deck enjoying the view. Unfortunately Spicer was still recovering from a nasty bug which had left him incapacitated with vomiting and a fever for the previous 24 hours so he popped some paracetamol and passed out for the night.

We woke the following morning with the most amazing luna like view of some snow-capped towering volcanoes, still wondering if Rice had made it on a bus or not. We arrived shortly before 7am at the city of Arequipa which sits at a comfortable altitude of 2400m. Arequipa is nestled between a range of volcanoes with its guardian volcano, El Misti (5822m), which is flanked by Chachani (6057m), and Pichu-Pichu (5669m). We hailed a taxi at the terminal and asked to be taken to Hostel Pirwa. Taxi drivers in South America are generally useless as any man with a driving license and a yellow car can qualify without any knowledge or sense of direction of the local area. This journey was no different and involved us pointing out roads and reading from our own maps in order to reach the hostel. We were greeted at the door by the resident “Lurch” and paid for a nights accommodation after helping the dim-witted host give us the correct change. Rice finally showed up an hour after us and had ended up paying for another bus ticket in order to reach Arequipa.

After a shower we headed down to the Plaza de Armas and treated ourselves to an excellent breakfast overlooking the plaza. We were also treated to a display by the local armed forces who were parading around the plaza to celebrate the Carnival Festival. After we had soaked up the atmosphere in the plaza we headed to a unique convent run by nuns called the Santa Catalina Convent. It has only been opened to the public since 1970 and had spent four centuries in complete mystery up until that point. It is described as “a city within a city” as 450 nuns used to live there in total seclusion, except for their women servants. The complex is beautifully decorated with flowers, and the walls have been painted orange, deep red and blue. As you can see from the photos I went a bit snappy happy with the flowers.

The following day we booked up a two-day tour of Colca Canyon as we had pretty much devoured what limited sights Arequipa had to offer. The city was in Monday mode which meant that all touristy sights are closed. To pass the time, Spice and I visited a barbers and had our locks chopped by an extremely camp Peruvian man. We spent the rest of the day doing very little, preparing for the 3am pickup to Colca Canyon that night.

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  1. […] bustling with young Peruvians. Arequipa also had its share of historical sites including the pricey St. Catherine’s Convent and the delightful historical museum, showcasing portraits of famous military men, and scenes of […]

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