Arequipa | Colca Canyon

3rd - 8th November 2018

As well as the two, insane trips we had undertaken, we were leaving Cusco with some other fond memories: our experience with the post office, for one. We sent a few packages home via Serpost, and, after telling us they accepted card payments, Sarah had to run halfway across the city to an atm, in the pouring rain for cash, right after we'd sprinted around trying to find somewhere that would print a picture of our passports… v stressful (update: package is now safe in England WOO!).

I also had my sneakers stitched back together. The soles were full-on coming off, and a quick trip to the cobblers fixed them up in 30 mins. The owner, probably unaccustomed to tourists using his service, asked for a photo which I was more than happy to oblige; my shoes were mended for less that £2.

We also spent a great deal of time in Museo de Cafe curled up on the sofa in front of the fire, mainly drinking hot chocolates. We took our Galapagos Gals there, and our fave waiter welcomed them to the 'Cult’. Hahahahaaa.

Our next stop was Arequipa, via a Cruz del Sur Night Bus - so hot, but pretty comfy.

Arequipa was a grower. We were sceptical about being back in a bustling city (we prefer country living and Cusco was much slower paced) but after a trip to the market for jugo (delish) and a wander round the main square, we were hooked. We also adopted full-blown holiday mode… cocktails at lunchtime at the divine El Buda Profano - vegan sushi darling - and 2 litres of Sangria with yummo pizza at Da Giancarlo Pizzeria Italiana.

For 3 days we just ate and drank and had a bloody jolly time. We watched the sunset from the terrace in the plaza, wandered to the Mirador in Yanahuara, and we admired all the Beetles (Punch Buggies?!) which scattered the city.

We also stayed in a divine, new hostel called Limbo Jump run by the glorious Carlos *shout out*. We met some excellent people and had some very hot showers. Perfection.

Whilst in Arequipa, we decided to do a 2-day hike at Colca Canyon. This was spectacular. We saw the Condors - they're HUGE and SO majestic. On the first day, we descended into the canyon and made our way up and down along a trail to an oasis and our accommodation for the night. The walk was undulating and varied: one side is canyon and the other side is Andean Mountains. The contrast in rock formation and junglyness in the bottom is extraordinary.

On making it to the oasis early, 3 of us struggled to find our bungalows (due to some dodge directions from Tony, our guide), meaning our highly anticipated swim in the pool was delayed. We managed a quick dip before the sun disappeared behind the mountains, plunging us into darkness and the cold. Queue, NAP TIME - well-deserved, as we'd been awake since 2:30am.

Although simple accommodation, we had a marvellous sleep… disturbed at 4:30am when we had to start our steep ascent of the canyon. 3 hours later, I reached the top. The views on the way were glorious; dawn sunshine is fresh and blissful.

The rest of the day was a stop/start affair: brekkie, an hour-long soak in the Hot Springs (this. THIS.), A buffet lunch - I had 20 desserts, admiring a herd of alpacas and llamas, overlooking the lunar landscape of the Andes, an impeccably timed toilet stop, then a 2 hour nap back to Arequipa. Action. Packed.

In the evening, Sarah and I had dinner with our trekking pals + 1 from our hostel. We went to the lovely Pasta Canteen and drank wine. It was a very good evening.

Our final day in Peru was a meander round the city, bidding it a fond farewell and going to lunch at El Buda Profano, for the third time (srsly, it's very good). We hopped on our Night Bus to Copacabana (Bolivia already?!) with a couple of hours spent at 4am in Puno bus terminal, not ideal. Our border crossing was surprisingly smooth and our busses were delightfully comfortable.

Peru was a dream and I can't believe what actually occurred… from the Inca Trail to the Condors to the Amazon Jungle, this country is a jigsaw of flavours that I can't wait to taste again.

Hasta luego, Peru.