When you ask people their favourite place in Peru, you’ll often get Cusco. For me, Arequipa holds that place. Those who follow the “Gringo Trail” of Peru, Arequipa is typically the second city for tourists. Its rich architecture, wonderful history and the fact it’s surrounded by three volcanos make it one of those places I could see myself accidentally staying there for 2-3 weeks, if not longer.
✈ F L Y:
The main airlines are Avianca, LATAM, Aerolíneas Argentinas, VivaColombia, VivaAir as well as some others – you can check here for other low-cost airlines in South America.
1h 30m S/ 235 – 545 | AUD $95 – $220 | USD $73 – 170
1h 20m S/ 315- 820| AUD $127 – $330 | USD $98 – 245
🚌 B U S:
Check the list here to see what’s best recommended. I’m such a big fan of night buses.
15h S/ 21-85 | AUD $10 – 30 | USD $7 -24
I would recommend taking a break (even for a day) in Huacachina to break up the bus hours.
10h S/ 40 – 100| AUD $10 – 16 | USD $7 -13
9h S/ 35-150 | AUD $14 – $60 | USD $10 – 45
MY TOP CHOICES
⏰ M-F 10:00 am – 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
💰 General Admission: S/. 40.00 | $16 AUD | $12 USD
Foreign Students: S/. 20.00 | $12 AUD |$6 USD
The Santa Catalina Monastery was opened in 1579 after Francisco de Toledo, Spanish Aristocrat and soldier of the Kingdom of Spain advised he wished to open a private monastery. It was later founded by Doña María de Guzmán, who secluded herself in the monastery after giving all her possessions to fund it.
I would recommend doing a guided tour, this will give you so much more information regarding the history of the monastery. Tipping isn’t included in the price.
⏰ 10a.m. & 3 p.m
📍 Santa Catalina 204
💰 Free + Tipping
The walking tour in Arequipa is run by Tourism and Hospitality students of the national university. It’s a great way for the students to practice their English, get hands-on in tourism and meet a range of different nationalities. As always, walking tours are free based off tipping. Please don’t be a terrible tipper.
You’ll see some Llamas, A lovely shot of a river running up towards one of the Volcanos and brilliant architecture. You’ll try some pisco sour, and be taken to a very beautiful look out at the very top of Arequipa.
There you can try Queso Helado which essentially translates to Cheese Icecream.
Read a great blog post about Queso Helado here (circa 2013 but still valid.)
The Colca Canyon claims the name of the “second deepest canyon in the world” and also, strangely enough, the second deepest in Peru as pretty close by is the Cotahuasi Canyon.
Interestingly, The Colca Canyon is habitable and remains so to this day. Remember to be respectful of the locals and their surroundings.
To tour, or not to tour?
Personally, if you’ve got the time – do the 2-night, 3-day tour. I did this one, and when the faces walked past of the 1 night, 2-day tour – I was happy with my decision. I knew some pals who tried to do a 1-day by themselves and when I asked “how did your trek go? did you make it?” they laughed and said, “no way, it was never going to happen.”
Also, you can hire Mules to get back up to the top at the end. Which was lucky for one of my friends because she couldn’t make it to the toilet the day before.
Looking to book? (this is my own personal recommendation)
I booked through my hostel (below) and look at their brochure here.
Feel free to do your research on other tours, cost and duration. Whatever works!
(our SD card got misplaced for the Colca Canyon, so these are really the only images we had from it)
WHERE TO STAY
🏢 H O S T E L:
Friendly AQP (Main Website) || T A (Trip Advisor)
I have nothing but love for the folk at Friendly AQP Hostel. They’re beyond lovely.
From the pancake breakfasts, booking our tours, helping us find arroz verde and even holding a cooking class for us!
I’ve actually been devastated coming back to Arequipa to find out I couldn’t stay here. Then of course, they helped us find accommodation.
|Free PANCAKE breakfast – banana or jam selection. Small Kitchen.|
|Shared, very clean bathrooms.|
|4-8 Dorms, Single, Twin & Triple Rooms.|
|Lounge Room, Outside Hammocks, Table area. Shared Computer, Ability to borrow travel guilds. Luggage Storage.|
|There was no bar/rooftop when I went, but it is in the works.|
WHAT I DID
Arequipa is one of those places that I felt at home. I learnt the streets early, found familiar faces and enjoyed all the food, drink and bars there. I’ve been there a few times, and each time my experience is wonderful… well, okay maybe not the time I vomited up oreos because, after that, I struggled to eat oreos for at least 2 years.
White Water Rafting
We were split into two groups; English and Spanish. If you guessed it was those who spoke English vs Spanish, you would be correct. We took out the boat, sailed down and hit rocks, ducked and braced ourselves whilst crashing down into the rips.
At one point of the trip, I was about to fall out and I think I actually heard the song “Hide & Seek” by Imogen Heap until the guild grabbed me with sheer terror in his face. I don’t think that was a good point to nearly fall out.
The last time I was in Arequipa, I wasn’t going to be doing the Colca Canyon, but I still wanted to do a bit of walking. Researching around I came across this blog post.
They seemed to have a much easier time than myself. From catching the collectivo (small bus) to getting to Yura, I wasn’t sure if this waterfall even still existed.
I made friends with someone on the bus, explaining I was off to see this black waterfall I had read about. He joined on the adventure, although he’d never heard of the Yuma Waterfall which didn’t make me feel too confident. When we eventually did find it, we were in awe. I’m very glad he joined, I would have been lost on the way back!
You only need to read the reviews to know we stumbled into one of the best cafes in Arequipa. The coffee (especially the iced) is beyond words. The owner takes the time to explain the types of coffee, how they make it & will even give you a demonstration.
Stay Cool. Sarah.
NEXT TIME: Cusco, Peru.