Why Everyone Should Visit Arequipa
Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru with about 860,000 people and sits at 2300 meters above sea level, which is considerably less than Cusco (3400 meters). Despite it being over 1000 meters lower than Cusco, I still feel the thin air, especially on my morning run and walking around the city.
One of my favorite aspects of Arequipa is that it is surrounded by three volcanoes that, because of their high altitudes (above 5000 meters), are capped in snow. Hiking to the top of Misti is popular, but I don’t need to hike another volcano.
Go See These Places:
While in Arequipa, visit the Museo Sanctuaries Andinos. It has a steep entrance fee (20 soles), but it is worth it. The museum is a collection of artifacts found by some American arechiologists and includes frozen mummies of Incan children that were sacrificed to a mountain over 500 years ago. Totally gross and totally cool. You can’t take any photos inside, so you’ll just have to come to Arequipa to see it!
The other must-see site is the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, also known as the city within the city. It is huge and worth the 40 sole entrance fee. You don’t need a guide to explore this labaranth. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is open at night and lit by candles and wood fires. Martin and I had a blast playing with our new camera during our visit. Allow for several hours of exploring.
The only thing I don’t like about Arequipa is the food.
Picanterias are local lunch places that serve a set menu for a couple dollars. Unfortunately, the traditional Peruvian food served here is filled with meat and dairy and they offer no alternatives. The few vegetarian lunch places we’ve found have served mediocre food that often contains dairy. Martin even got food poisoning at one of the restaurants here. Chifa, on the other hand, has been wonderful. Chifa is Peruvian-style Chinese food. I enjoy the chaufa, which is stir fried rice with egg, onion, soy sauce, and – if you want – some kind of meat. Delightful.
Alpaca wool is plentiful in Arequipa; beautiful handmade textiles are around every corner.
Our next destination is the Colca Canyon, which is about 5 hours from Arequipa. This canyon is TWICE as deep as the Grand Canyon! What?! We hope to spend 3-7 days exploring that area, and we leave tomorrow! While I love cities, I’m excited to do some hiking in a remote area for a while.