Arequipa was our final stop in Peru, we’d decided to give it a go for a couple of reasons. It’s was meant to be a nice looking town with some interesting museums and spots to check out. It’s also the base from where tourists can visit the Colca Canyon – the worlds deepest canyon. Unfortunately the cold temperatures somewhere along the way had taken it’s toll on me, a serious bout of man-flu had set in. Nevertheless, being a proper man and standing up to the life changing flu, I joined Cel in some adventures about the town. One thing that was definitely on our side was the weather, Arequipa, it appears, does not know what clouds, wind or rain is – we had perfect weather everyday.


Volcan Misti 1

Nothing here but blue skies


Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru (850K little Peruvians call it home). The city is unique in that the people consider themselves different to the rest of Peru, they like to set themselves apart and above. With their own named cocktails, beers food and even some random currency. It doesn’t feel like it’s a big city when you’re based in the historical centre. A few main roads run the length of this district and it’s an easy walk to find anything you need. Pretty much no matter where you are in the city you can get a view of one of the volcanoes that sit proudly on the outskirts of town (El Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu). There are plenty of good spots to eat, a couple of our favourites were Istanbul – a Turkish cafe with $5USD kofte wraps, and Crepisimo – a small cafe with outstanding coffee and crepe’s.


Arequipa Streets

Cel out and about brightening up the streets


Crepisimo, Arequipa

Cel catching up on admin at Crepisimo


Sanctity in Arequipa

One of the bigger ‘things to do’ in Arequipa is to take a trip through Monastario Santa Catalina. It’s a huge monastery that until recently was closed to the public and was relatively secretive. It was forced to open up as a tourist attraction by the local authorities and from what we could see has benefited from the tourism dollars. It’s big enough to have it’s own small roads inside the big brick walls, creating pathways between the many buildings that acted as homes to the sisters of the past. While it was pricey at 70 soles ($25USD each) it was worth the spend and gave us a nice chilled out couple of hours exploring.  The pictures probably best paint the picture of what it’s like.


Monastario Santa Catalina 1

A little under-dressed for a monastery perhaps?


Monastario Santa Catalina 2

Nope it’s not a prison


Monastario Santa Catalina 3

Not sure who is blue’er?


Monastario Santa Catalina 4

Lapping up more of the sunshine


Monastario Santa Catalina 5

Flowers, I couldn’t resist


Monastario Santa Catalina 6

What a backdrop


Monastario Santa Catalina 7

Spot Cel…


Arequipa’s Ice Maiden

Now this one is probably going to go down as one of the most interesting, yet strange museums of our entire 4 months trip. The museum is the  Catholic University’s Museum of Andean Sanctuaries, doesn’t sound too impressive until you find out what is inside. Juanita is the Ice Maiden. She was a human sacrifice made by the Incan people to the gods, on top of Mt Ampato (6000m) back in the 1400’s. During troubled times, the Inca’s would offer the greatest sacrifice to the gods, a human, in hope they would help to solve problems with health, the economy or weather. Juanita was one of these.

The amazing thing about Juanita is that she was found in 1995 by an American scientist who was on Ampato viewing volcanic activity of another nearby volcano. It was by luck that the other volcano, emitting ash and warm air, had melted snow on parts of Mt Ampato that are normally covered in snow. This had caused Juanita, who had been buried in the snow for 500 years, to dislodge and roll out of the hold she was in. She’d effectively been mummified and preserved in the snow all this time, so the scientist found her in remarkably good condition – skin and organs still intact. Wikipedia tells me that she was rated as one of the worlds top 10 discoveries, by Time magazine.

The museum has paid homage to Juanita and built a display to show her in her ice mummified state. You can get up close with the mummy as she sits in a temperature controlled compartment. There are other artefacts and an education piece on human sacrifice in the museum which offers some perspective on the Incan culture.

It really was a fascinating experience and gave us a deeper understanding of the Inca’s and their respect for the mountains. While we couldn’t take photo’s in the museum, there are a couple here on Wikipedia if you’re interested.


Peru Flag

Peru never looked better against the Arequipan sky


Finishing up and trekking out again

The three nights in Arequipa had given me enough rest to get back on the active bandwagon. We decided to take another trek, this time 3 days in the Colca Canyon. Trekking in a canyon certainly sounded unique and we were promised some condor action – the sacred bird of the Inca’s. Arequipa sent us off in style the night before we headed out, with clear skies and some great views of the surrounding volcanoes.


Arequipa Mirador

Enjoying the views at the mirador


Volcan Misti 2

Ooooooolld Misti catches the last rays of sun for the day


Volcan Misti 3

Nearly lights out


Next morning we were up at 2:45am ready for a long and cold trip over the mountains to try and catch the condors at first light before heading into the Colca Canyon.


One Comment

  1. Latin America: Top 5 Destinations « says: November 5, 2012 • 10:14:54

    […] Recall the saying ‘I bet you think the sun shines out of your @£$%’, well if Arequipa was an ar$@ then it would be an extremely accurate statement. Never before have I seen a city with such a lack of clouds that began to forget what they looked like. Arequipa is a medium sized Peruvian city that sits at 2,300 meters above sea level. It was a stop-off between the hiking mecca of Cusco and the Peru-Bolivia border. It’s a great looking city with colonial buildings, cobbled streets, views of the surrounding mountains and, as mentioned, blue, blue skies. Arequipa has what I think is probably the most interesting museum we went to on the trip, the Catholic University’s Museum of Andean Sanctuaries. It’s home to the ‘Ice Maiden’, a frozen mummy of a girl who was sacrificed to the gods on top of Mt Ampatu and later discovered, still perfectly preserved (definitely check it out). The enormous monastery in Arequipa is worth a look too, a relaxing walk around this massive complex (it has it’s own roads and enclosing brick wall) shows you what life was like in the 1500 and 1600′s. To cap things off, Arequipa has a sense of self-pride, they make their own brand of beer, have dishes and cocktails that you’ll only find in Arequipa and, we were told, even have had some of their own money made. Arequipan’s like to think of themselves as better than the rest of Peru, I probably would to if the sun shined out of my rear-end! Find the whole story about Arequipa – Sunshine, Sanctity and Skeletons […]


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