With many good reviews about Arequipa, I was excited to stay in the city for a long time- especially after the 13 hour bus ride from Ica!!
It is the second most populated area in Peru (after Lima), but a lot of tourist feel more at home here than Lima.
The main area is called the Plaze de Armas, a beauiful plaza in the very centre. Yes it is surrounded by tourist tour companies and restaurants, but it is a great starting point for navigating around the city. From here you can view the many cathedrals and museums in the area, as well as take a short work to the local market.Of interest to many is the Museo Sanctuaries Andinos, which holds the 500 year old incan girl.
Often people come to Arequipa to treck either the popular Colca Canynon or the surrounding volcanoes (Misti or Chachani).
I chose to do the Colca Canynon treck, which can be done either by yourself or with a tour, taking anything from 2-3 days. I chose the 2 day hike which was a rather quick loop around the Canyon, but perfect the more energetic backpacker or someone short on time. The distance on the trecks is all the same- for us the first day was downhill and (mostly) flat across the bottom of the canyon and the second day was a straight 2-3 hour treck uphill. The Colca Canynon is the place to see condors (which the viewing point was over crowded with tourist – but atleast I saw 2!), aswell as it being deeper than the grand canyon.!
The altitude can be a bit difficult for some, so many drink Coca leaves in their tea- or even chew on them, to help reduce the impact of the high altitude. On route we did reach 4900m- which gave amazing views of he surrounding volcanoes, but the actually treck was only at 3200m.
But for me it wasn’t the altitude that was tiring, but the early morning starts. On the 1st we had to be on the road by 3am and the 2nd day by 5am- but once finished I completely forgot the ‘hard’ times!
The cost of entrance was 70 soles for tourist and once in the area the prices of everything sky rockets- which is important to bare in mind if you are on a tight budget.