Arequipa, Peru: walking tour, llamas and Rio Chili

Bright and early, I arrived at Arequipa bus terminal, where I took a taxi to my hostel in the centre of town. As it was still early morning, there wasn’t much point in wandering the area until a bit late so I chilled, ate some breakfast and freshened up for the day. I researched what to do in this small town in Peru so that I didn’t miss out on anything.[007543]

As kind of standard by now, I decided to take the free walking tour in the morning so I could get a feel of the place and hopefully get to know some other travellers. The walking tour started at 10am at the Chocolate factory not far from my hostel. There were about 20 travellers that turned up from around the world.

The tour guide gave us a brief history of Arequipa before we were shown around. The tour covered The Jesuit Cloister of the Company of Jesus, San Camilo Market, colonial buildings, El Solar neighbourhood, the first jail, a few churches, the first hotel and the main plaza. It wasn’t a big city but it did have some beautiful white building that just glistened in the sunlight.

As part of the tour, we stopped in the market to have the best ‘Helado queso’, which is a speciality food in this town. Personally, it wasn’t my favourite ice-cream as I thought it was icy and a bit too sweet for me. We also walked to the river, where if it was a clear day, you would be able to see the three mountains surrounding the city. Apparently the best time to see the surrounding is early in the morning when the sun rises but I never got to experience this.

After the tour, four of us, a guy from England, a guy from Holland and a girl from German, explored the city to find some food as we were feeling hungry. All around the area was the menu of the day, which included a starter, main and drink.

For the rest of the afternoon, I didn’t do too much except relax at my hostel, had a nap and was debating whether to book a Colca Canyon tour. I heard mixed reviews and got told it would basically be better if I go on my own without a tour. In the end, I decided just to stay in Arequipa for one more day, looking around the city before heading off to the next town.

I did get invited out in the evening but I wasn’t feeling it so I went to bed pretty early to catch up on all the missed sleep over the last few weeks.

The following day, I woke up feeling refreshed. Once I had brekkie and packed my bag, I checked out and placed my bag in the storage.[007400]

I wandered through the streets to the Mundo Alpaca centre. I would say this is well worth the visit. When one first walks in there is an expensive shop full of different products made out of alpaca wool. However, I just walked through to the backyard, where there were a few Alpacas and llamas chilling in a pen. There were all sorts of different ones with description an information about the differences. I found this extremely interesting.

To the side there is a small museum giving more information about the animals, their wool and turning it into clothes. When their fur is ready, it is shaved and then a person separates the different wool, throwing out the manky parts. There was a lady doing that while I was walking around the area. Outside were two ladies weaving on a huge wooden frame, passing the coil with the wool on to each other. The whole museum isn’t huge but I spend just under an hour here. The information was in both English and Spanish, which makes it useful.

It was nearly lunchtime, so I strolled towards a vegetarian restaurant that I had researched. It had a meal of the day including starter, main, dessert and a drink. The starter was a soup and for the main I could choose 3 option out of a possible 10, where I had a gratin thing, layered veggies and egg and a bean curry. It was so delicious. The place was called ‘Restaurante vegetariano el puente’ and it cost 9 soles for 2 course meal or 11 soles with a drink. The lovely thing about here was that there was a lot of choice compared to other places I have been. It was totally delicious. The interior was just like a canteen but the serve was good and they brought the plates to the table.

In the afternoon, I crossed the river and took a lovely walk down to the Rio Chili and wandered through the beautiful and quiet streets which led us to the ‘Mirador de Yanahuara’. From underneath the arches, you can get a pretty nice view of the city and the volcanoes which encircle it and there is a tiny old church next door which you can visit for free.[005128]

As it wasn’t a tourist area, it was lovely to be away from the hustle and bustle and chill in the little park in the centre. I found a small café on the edge of the park serving organic coffee. I ordered a tasty cappuccino and  took advantage of their Wifi. Outside, the clouds decided to open their wings with heavy rain falling against the ground. I wasn’t really feeling getting wet so I definitely overstayed my welcome at the café.

When the rain had stopped, I wandered back through the narrow, picturesque streets with little birds flying around, over the bridge and back to the centre. I purchased a juice at the market before relaxing at my hostel.

In the evening, I caught a taxi to the bus terminal to get an overnight bus to Ica, a small town further north in Peru. The journey took longer than planned because there were roadwork, where we had to halt for a long time. I also work up in the middle of the night and when I looked outside, we were at a repairs garage. I think something had happened to the coach’s type so it was being changed. However, we weren’t expected to get off the bus so we just stayed put. About an hour before Ica, we took a break at a restaurant for those who needed breakfast or the toilet. I just purchased a freshly squeezed orange juice.

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