Arequipa and the Colca Canyon

Back from our Machu Picchu adventures and after a well-deserved shower, we hopped onto a bus to Arequipa, Peru’s second-biggest city. In our eyes it was more of a cute town, with beautiful baroque architecture, and plenty of tasty little restaurants. As expected, it turned into another culinary feast, as we tried to sample as many Peruvian dishes as possible. When we weren’t eating, we spent our time wandering through the streets, exploring the markets, and taking yet another free walking tour.

The local specialties

It’s true: Peruvians do eat guinea pig – and it goes by the name of “cuy”. It is however quite difficult to find in restaurants, so we had to search for a while, but we eventually found some, and to be honest it wasn’t the tastiest meal we’ve had… It was mostly crispy skin, and a bit of chicken-like meat around some tiny little legs.

Peruvians are also extremely proud of their huge variety of potatoes, and we happened to stumble upon a potato-tasting restaurant. We gave it a try and tasted plenty of different “papas” in all colors and shapes. Other specialties we tried included rocotto relleno (stuffed spicy bell peppers), escabeche (pickled vegetables), or ají de gallina ( ahearty grand-ma style chicken soups). Knowing our peruvian adventures were coming to an end, we also treated ourselves again with some lomo saltado, which is a safe choice when you don’t dare to try the rest.
Unfortunately there are no pictures, as Quentin managed once again to get his phone stolen (in Brazil)…

Colca Canyon

From Arequipa, plenty of tourists go visit the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons. We chose to do a two-day hike, picked a cheap touring company, and found ourselves with a crazy guide that seemed constantly drunk, laughing alone, hysterically, while looking at the sky (bear in mind we were hiking along a steep steep cliff). After reaching the canyon by bus (which included some tourists from lima joyfully puking from the altitude), we could admire some majestic condors flying around, passing just a few meters above our heads.

We then spent the rest of the day mostly walking down very narrow paths to reach the bottom of the canyon. The sun was merciless and we had to put a new layer of sunscreen every 20min, but luckily didn’t end up like lobsters. We spent the night in the “oasis”, a small lush green spot in the middle of the sandy and stoney valley (there were even swimming pools!). We slept in a simple mud hut with our flatmate “Jared-the-spider-that-is-bigger-than-your-head”. The next day, we woke up early to start climbing in the dark for what seemed like an endless ascent. It actually lasted only two hours, but by the time we reached the top of the canyon, we were all covered in dust and sweat (and hatred for the lima-pukers crew that had climbed up riding mules).

Colca Canyon somewhat didn’t strike us as an unforgettable experience, but it was maybe due to the fact that we had seen some hard-to-beat things in the preceding weeks. The size of the canyon and the views are still well worth the time!

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