Travel: Getting to know Arequipa

A few weeks ago I completed my first 70.3 Ironman which required months of training, so before getting back to training I got to enjoy a marvelous time in Arequipa.

Arequipa is a region located in the south of Peru. It was first occupied by pre-Inca and then Inca civilizations. It was later occupied by the Spanish conquerors, gaining more importance during the Colonial period. Still now a day you can find evidence of its history, through its landscapes and the well-preserved historical center.

Arequipa’s center has churches and other buildings that witness different architecture periods since the Spanish arrived, most of which share the same white volcanic rock. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is easy to walk around and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of this city.

During my trip I went out of the city historic center to see other areas and views from the surroundings. The city is located at 2328m above sea level. If the sky is clear you can appreciate the Andes Mountains and Misti volcano, which are covered with snow during the rainy season. I didn’t have luck during that day. I also got to see other areas and museums in the area.

Back to the city center I got to try Chicha, a restaurant by Gaston Acurio. People don’t lie when they praise Peruvian cuisine. Chances of being disappointed are extremely low.
On Saturday we drove to Colca Valley. To reach it we took the road that goes to Cusco and Puno – other touristic areas from Peru that probably you’ve heard before. The area is protected because it houses the endangered and beautiful Vicuñas. You can see them all the way to Colca. When the road splits to Colca you can also see lamas and alpacas.

This road goes up to 4,900m above sea level before it starts descending into the valley. People recommend you chew coca leafs not to feel sick with the altitude. I didn’t feel like trying it, and I still felt good.

At Colca Valley we stayed in Colca Lodge, a beautiful ecological hotel that has helped to develop the valley through sustainable tourism. The lodge has beautiful surroundings, natural hot springs with different temperatures, and a nice spa – you don’t need much more.

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On Sunday we went early to see condors flying over the Colca Canyon. The way these creatures extend their wings is beautiful. I could have stayed there and watch them for hours.

On the way we also got to see the crops of pre-inca civilizations and little towns dated from the colonial times.

We had lunch at a local diner and got to see the traditions of the people in the Valley with their music and dances.

Unfortunately early Monday we had to go back home. I could have stayed another week there. If you ever have the chance, go to Arequipa. I guarantee that you will enjoy it. Drop me a message if you want tips on what to visit! And have a great weekend.

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