Filtering by Tag: Arequipa

The Flight to Cusco

Added on by Bill.

We were fortunate to arrive at the airport early. Our travelling partners discovered at check-in that they had been bumped. The good news was there was a flight leaving immediately for Lima with a connecting flight to Cusco. Had we arrived even 15 minutes later they would have missed that flight to Lima and the next one would not have been until the following day.  In the end they arrived 1 hour after we did.

Our flight to Cusco took us through Juliaca which is the airport closest to Lake Titicaca. A full plane leaving Arequipa was left half empty after the Juliaca stop.  I say half empty purposely as, in the case of airplanes, emptiness is the preferred condition.

Flight to Lima departing Arequipa with our travelling companions onboard

The Route to Chivay

Added on by Bill.

Chivay isn't really the end point; the main attraction is the Colca Canyon and, at least for me,  the Andean Condors.  Chivay is a little town located at the head of the Colca Canyon.  We stayed one night so that the following morning we could get an early start into the Canyon.  The objective was to get to the Condors by 8:00AM.

The route to Chivay goes through the National Reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, where we saw grazing llamas, alpacas and vicuña.

There were two challenges to be faced on this part of the trip: Altitude and the condition of the roads.

Once leaving the Pan American Highway the roads are for the most part gravel and for much of the time very bumpy, especially in the Colca Canyon.  Normally it takes between 3 and 4 hours to drive the approximately 120 kms to Chivay, largely because of the condition of the roads.  Our tour took a leisurely 5 hours as we stopped at several points along the way.  One quickly gains an appreciation of how difficult 19th century stagecoach travel must have been.  

The next challenge of this part of the journey is altitude.  To put things into context, Toronto, which is near where I live is 105m above sea level. Calgary is just over 1000m above sea level.  Arequipa is at about 2400 meters, which was noticable; it was hard to sustain walking at my normal pace. Chivay is 3600m.  The drive to Chivay takes us up to 4900 meters. 

The advice we received was to drink lots of water and gatoraid, don't drink too much alcohol, don't eat too much, and eat coca in some form or another. Along the route to the highest point I consumed:

  • 3 coca candies
  • 1 coca tea
  • 1.5 l water
  • 7 coca leaves, chewed not stired.

I was fine until lunch, but I ate too much--they served alpaca steaks and I just had to try them out--and the digestion process sapped me.  Fortunately our agenda allowed us to relax the rest of the afternoon. I spent the time taking pictures of a nearby llama.

The main symptoms were shortness of breath with accelerated heart rate, headache and thirst. In the end avoiding physical exertion mitigated the shortness of breath & heart rate.

While the consumption of coca in its vaious legitimate forms increased thresholds, a couple of asprin cleared the headaches.

Coca tea was good to drink but as it is a simulant it's best not to consume too much nor too late in the day. So water was the preferred choice after late morning or noon.

The dryness at this altitude meant waking up frequently during the night to have a drink of water. That of course disrupted my sleeping pattern.  On the other hand, one of the benefits of the dry air was any cloths we washed were mostly dry  within a day.


Enroute to Chivay

Dressed up Llama

Two boys eating

Grazing Llama

Andean girl in native costume

Baby Andean girl in native costume


Rock piles marking 4900m point

City Tour of Arequipa

Added on by Bill.

Our tour of Arequipa itself, beyond the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, was limited. We were driven to the edge of town to see some terraces and farmland, and then we walked along a few streets in different parts of town.  

On our walks we did find the Alpaca Factory Outlet, which included a museum of sorts. I bought myself a sweater made of baby alpaca wool.

Farmland as seen from the edge of Arequipa

Residential street in Arequipa

City street in older part of Arequipa

Cathedral in Plaza

Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Added on by Bill.

The guide described this convent as a city within a city. It certainly had many of the characteristics, such as courtyards, streets, residences and working areas.  In some respects it was reminiscent of the Forbidden City.

But it could have been a prision too. In its day, residents were allowed to speak with family members just once a month and only through a grate that prevented holding and touch. No visit was private; all visits were with a minder.  Certainly a different era.

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Monasterio de Santa Catalina at Arequipa

Arrival in Arequipa

Added on by Bill.

As usual, on arriving in Arequipa, we were greeted with the friendly smile of the local tour guide and driver.  From the bus terminal they took us to our hotel.  

All our hotels had been paid in advance. When we arrived in Lima we were given a package of hotel vouchers.  The normal procedure, on check in, we present a voucher as proof of purchase.  And so we did here.  Unfortunately, the vouchers were not for the hotel where we were dropped.  Our original plans had us staying at Casa de Mi Abuela, but they had been changed at the last moment.   

Where we were suppose to be was the Sonesta Posada del Inca on Plaza de Armas. Also very nice and more centrally located right on the main square.  The Sonesta offered a second-floor patio restaurant overlooking the Plaza.  A nice touch.  


Second-floor patio restaurant

View of Plaza de Armas from restaurant