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

Birds and Insects in Arequipa

Arequipa, a desert city in Peru’s south, has fascinating birds and insects, including impressive hummingbirds. Following are photos and a video compilation from my visits there.

Hummingbird next to vase of flowers, Katari Hotel Rooftop Restaurant, Arequipa

This hummingbird is admiring a vase of flowers on the Katari Hotel rooftop 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

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

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

Two Amazing Day Trips from Macusani, Carabaya Province, Peru

In October 2016 Rocío and I undertook two amazing day tours in the southern Peruvian Andes Mountains as part of our 2016 Interoceanic Highway Trip. We saw stunning scenery, prehistoric history and witnessed something extremely rare: a condor hunting and dive-bombing. From Macusani, guide Ulices and our Hilux driver took us one day to Ayapata District and the next to Corani District.

Video of the condor hunting and dive-bombing near Lake Qañuqota, Ayapata District

Located in Puno Region’s north, Carabaya Province is rarely visited by foreigners. In fact, in ten days, we did not see a single foreign tourist. This is despite being situated between touristic cities Puno, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado. One reason for limited tourism is elevation. Carabaya Province’s capital and largest city, Macusani, lies an inhibiting 4,315 metres high.

With fun couple adjacent Lake Qanuqota, Ayapata District, Carabaya Province, Peru

While hiking to Pitumarka we met a fun couple relaxing against a stone wall seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Ayapata District Continue reading

Condor Dive-Bombing and other Animals Around Macusani, Carabaya Province

A condor dive-bombing was the biggest highlight of Rocío and my two amazing October 2016 day trips from Macusani. Other animals in the Carabaya Province of Peru’s Puno Region included flamingos, Andean geese, a native rodent and domestic livestock.

Andean Condor Hunting and Dive-Bombing

Hiking back from Pitumarka to Ccochauma we had just turned the corner after Lake Qañuqota when we witnessed a truly special sight. In the sky an Andean condor, one of the world’s largest flying birds, was repeatedly hovering then flying, hovering then flying, sometimes as a silhouette in the sky, other times against mountains.

Although I had seen condors before, even quite close, nothing matched this occasion.

Andean condor hovering in front of snowy mountain, Ayapata District, Peru

The condor hovering in front of a snowy mountain peak Continue reading

Jaylluwa Stone Forest and Odd Rocks

The Andes Mountains have lots of rocks. Lots. In southern Peru’s Corani District there are enough rocks together to form a stone forest. The same day Rocío and I visited Jaylluwa Stone Forest we also ‘rang’ a bell stone, saw the result of lightning and searched for uranium.

Jaylluwa Stone Forest

Near Aymaña in Corani District is the Jaylluwa Stone Forest (Bosque de Piedras de Jaylluwa), a large area covered in rocks. Approximately 4,000 metres high in a remote part of the Andes, Jaylluwa receives fewer tourists than other stone forests I’ve visited including Turkey’s Cappadocia, Bolivia’s Moon Valley, and Argentina’s La Leona. In fact, here we didn’t see another tourist.

Welcome to Jaylluwa Rock Forest Sign

Sign welcoming people to the Jaylluwa ‘Stone Forest Natural Ecotourism Sanctuary’ Continue reading