Arequipa, Home away from Home

Arequipa's Coat of Arms on the Portal de la Municipalidad

Featuring Misti Volcano, Arequipa’s coat of arms on the main plaza’s southern portal, Portal de la Municipalidad

Arequipa, Peru’s second city and location of its Constitutional Court was home base for a significant part of my trip. Its mild climate, manageable size, affordability, world heritage-listed historic centre, volcano backdrop and South America’s best food made the city a great place to stay. I also met Rocío here. Continue reading

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa’s Splendid Main Square

Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

Pigeons and people populate the late afternoon square in front of the cathedral

Like the Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa’s main square (Plaza de Armas) is part of the city’s world heritage-listed historic centre.

Surrounded by the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa to the north and portals to the east, south and west, the plaza is a wonderful place to relax, watch the world go by and politely decline unsolicited offers.

Archway displaying Peruvian colours with Misti in the background, Arequipa

A giant ribbon in national colours on the eastern portal (Portal de los Flores) prior to Peru’s independence day (28 July); Mt Misti is in the background Continue reading

Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu, the Volcanoes Ringing Arequipa

A volcanic backdrop provides an impressive setting for Arequipa, Peru’s second city. Volcano mountains Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu ring the city to the north and east.

Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu from Yanahuara Plaza, Arequipa

From left to right, Chachani (partially obscured), Misti and Pichu Pichu volcanoes viewed from Arequipa’s Yanahuara Plaza

Located in the gigantic Andes Mountain Range’s Central Volcanic Zone, Misti last erupted in 1985 while Chachani and Pichu Pichu are extinct volcanic groups. All three volcanoes are climbable either with or without a guide. I didn’t consider climbing them because of altitude sickness. Continue reading

Arequipa’s 16th Century Landmark: Santa Catalina Convent

People playing Pokémon GO outside Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa

Santa Catalina’s white volcanic stone walls tower over these Pokémon Go players

Founded in 1579, Arequipa’s imposing Santa Catalina Convent (monastery) takes up a whole city block and is a major tourist attraction. One can easily spend hours exploring the different rooms, cloisters and galleries. The convent’s history, size, architecture, art and ambience impress. Besides the museum, an adjoining New Monastery still functions although it is closed to the public. Continue reading

Food and Arequipa – a Delicious Combination

Peruvian cuisine’s variety, taste and freshness make it South America’s finest. Although Lima has Peru’s best restaurants and food festival (Mistura), Arequipa is the city most synonymous with food. Following are culinary highlights from my time in Arequipa, including my favourite food from the city, country and continent: a true chocolate delight!
For ease of navigation I have divided the article into the following sections:

MARKETS

Mercado San Camilo

Doña Julia's juice stall, Mercado San Camilo, Arequipa

Doña Julia giving the thumb up behind the fruit at her great juice stall in Mercado San Camilo Continue reading

Traditional Wititi Dancing in Arequipa

Originating in the Colca Canyon, Wititi dancing is important and unique enough to be included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Most visitors to the Colca Canyon see touristic Wititi dancing in town squares or at folkloric evenings but at Arequipa’s Yanahuara Plaza I was lucky enough to watch an informal performance.

Wititi dancing and costume, Plaza de Yanahuara, Arequipa

A woman in Collagua dress dances with a Wititi Continue reading

Colca Canyon: a Volcanic 2 Day Birthday Tour

In November 2016, to celebrate our birthdays, Rocío and I took a two day tour of the picturesque Colca Canyon. In southern Peru’s Caylloma Province, the Colca is one of the world’s deepest canyons and a must visit to see the Andean Condor. I had previously hiked the canyon. This time we wanted a relaxing trip. Booked through our YES Arequipa hostel, the tour was extremely good value.

Day 1

On our first morning we were picked up from our accommodation by the tour bus and driven north to Chivay, the canyon’s principle town.

Vicunas in front of Misti Volcano between Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Vicuñas in front of the Misti volcano Continue reading

Deliciousness and Australian Songs at Festi Sabores 2016 – Arequipa’s Food Festival

Festi Sabores, Festival of Flavours in English, is southern Peru’s most important food festival and a highlight of the Arequipa calendar. With free entry, Festi Sabores is held at Plaza Yanahuara over multiple days around October-November each year. Rocío and I enjoyed the 2016 festival enough to attend two days.

Cuyassic Park, guinea pig stand, Arequipa Food Festival, Peru

Cuyassic Park: like Jurassic Park but selling roasted guinea pigs instead (cuy in Spanish is guinea pig) Continue reading