Interested in seeing what happens in Arequipa? Check the two videos down below!
After 12 hours on the overnight sleeper bus from Ica to Arequipa (for around 115 soles each - $35 USD) we arrived around 8am. I booked a hostel online for us on HostelWorld and we took a cab for around 15 soles total to get there ($5USD). We stayed at a hostel called Hostal Sol de Oro for three nights and it was a small hostel that had an unused pool/karaoke/bar area and a great terrace. The second morning there after staying in a 6 person dorm I realized I was sleeping underneath black mold. AH. So we switched to another dorm room across the hall that was another decent size for 6 beds. This town is very European style with the architecture and loads of restaurants, bars, shops and places to explore. One of the first nights there Matt read our lonely planet book and found a bar called Chelawasi Public House so of course since we are from Seattle we had to check out the craft beers. All three of us tried different beers and they make just brew one of there own and the rest are imported from different breweries around Peru. I recommend visiting just know they will be US prices of around $5 a beer.
The best coffee in Peru I believe is found here! This amazing place is called Cafe Valenzuela that is near the main Plaza De Armas and they serve a long list of different types of coffee creations. It is a small shop and when I say small it is the smallest funkiest shop I have ever been into. (Watch my Youtube video above to see the inside and the menu). They serve the coffee upstairs and sell beans on the bottom floor so when you take the spiral staircase up it might throw you off but the huge taste will make you want to come back. I had ice cream drizzled in espresso and chocolate. Incredible. Two street down from our hostel was a street that had a row of restaurants open for lunch that were serving Menu Del Dias (menus of the day exclusively for lunch time) so we made sure to eat at a bunch of different restaurants on this street to save some money. We would usually split two meals between three of us and the total would be around $6. Not to bad for a $2 each lunch either.
The big tour we did in Arequipa was The Colca Canyon Trek for two days and it cost 95 soles each ($30 USD). We booked this tour through one of the many tour agencies near Plaza De Armas and just picked the agency that we liked the sales person the most. Everyone sells the exact same tour so don't book online and don't be scared to barter. This was an early morning tour waking up at 3am to get picked up at our hostel and it was a long drive to many different sights before the trek actually began. The first stop was to get breakfast (jam, bread, butter, tea and coffee the norm in Peru) and the one after a few hours of driving and paying for our fee to enter the national park (70 soles) there was a view point that overlooked an incredible view into the canyon with Condor birds flying right above us. From there we drove a bit farther and that is where our trekking began. It is a total of 11.86 miles in two days of trekking. Now our tour agency said that I could do this trek no problem with my back and my knee problems then I realized they care more about a sale then the persons experience.
So the first day was pretty brutal for me. For four hours you start at the beginning of the trek going down the entire way to get to the bottom of the canyon. I had a horrible time even with trekking poles but that is only because I have had three knee surgeries in the past. Everybody else said their knees got a bit sore but every single person made it. I was definitely the last one down that canyon. From the bottom you cross a bridge over a river and work your way up the canyon (not too far) before having an easy second half of your trek mostly flat. You stop half way through the day for lunch where it was traditional rice, meat and soup and a nice time to relax before setting out trekking again. We finally got to our location 7 hours later at a hostel called The Oasis in the middle of the Canyon. We had about an hour before the sun went down so we all tipped our feet in the huge pool in the center of the hostel and Matt even went swimming in it. Our room had no electricity but it didn’t matter we had headlamps. That night, dinner was included as well and it was plain spaghetti but since we were so hungry it felt like a 5 star meal. They also sell beer there for around 10 Soles so it is a nice treat to end the day. (If you are going make sure to bring snacks!)
We went to bed early that night maybe around 9pm to get ready for the next day ahead that started at 5am for the trekkers and 5:30am for the people that wanted to ride a mule to the top. After yesterdays trek I knew a mule was the best call for my health and I did it for around 60 soles additional. The trek is straight uphill and will take you 2-3 hours on feet or 1 and half hours up on mule. Paula and Matt met me at the top after trekking and it was still only 9am. The mule ride was completely incredible it was just me and one other girl and one of the workers with their dog that stayed behind us to make sure our mule kept going. My mule (who I named The Fonz) loved eating the grass over the side of the ledges. With no protective gear on it can be a bit scary but I loved every minute of it.
So after everyone got to the top of the canyon it was off to breakfast for more bread and jam! From there the tour continued and we went to a shopping area on the side of the road before heading to natural hot springs to relax our muscles. It was an incredible man made hot springs that cost no more than a few dollars to enter and there are multiple pools. The bigger sizes of the pools the cooler it would be so the tiny pools I couldn’t even get my foot in since the medium sized ones was almost too hot for me! After the hot springs it was off to two more viewing areas of the landscape before heading back into town around 7pm and checking back into our old hostel where we left our big bags the night before (we only brought our day packs for the trek).
Make sure to spend at least four nights in Arequipa. From the food to the tours to the drinks you will find yourself having a hard time pulling away. From Arequipa it was time for an 11 hour over night bus ride to Cusco! We bought the bus ticket the same place as we bought the tour ticket for around 80 Soles for a semi-cama seat. (Goes down 140 degrees). The ride was a bit scary waking up to the bus stuck in snow and the downstairs of the bus where we laid was dark and scary. But we arrived in Cusco and it was on my favorite place in all of Peru, Cusco.
5) Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Sacred Valley
6) Machu Pichu
1) Copacabana and Isla Del Sol
2) La Paz
1) San Pedro De Atacama
4) La Serena
5) Puerto Iquazu
6) Buenos Aires