Peru update 2: Arequipa and Colca Canyon (with a side helping of altitude sickness)

It’s been a while since I have had time to write, tonight we leave Peru after the most amazing experience of my life in this beautiful country. Before I go however I have just enough time to bring you the next instalment of the trip, our days in Arequipa and the Colca Canyon… and there is still so much more to share! Enjoy…and see you soon!!

After our amazing experience and stay in Nazca we boarded an overnight bus to Arequipa. Now that was an experience and a half in itself! I was at first happy to see that the coach was a higher standard than I had imagined, huge seats each with a screen, movies and even wifi (always a bonus for an avid blogger like me!) So, I thought I would be in for a good nights sleep, however I was so wrong! Once the bus got moving, it really moved…just imagine a double decker coach, flying along a winding coast road and up the side of mountains at over 100kms per hour, I could barely keep in my seat, we flew round the bends so fast on roads with a sheer drop to the side, I’ve got to say, it was pretty terrifying at some moments and most definitely didn’t get a wink of sleep. Oh well, its all about the experience and we got there in one piece, that’s all that matters… 🙂

We arrived in the morning to Arequipa, a beautiful city surrounded by seven volcanoes, although I was feeling completely jaded by the bus journey,the beautiful scenery totally made up for it and more. After a quick freshen up we we out and about in the town, mooching through the main square which had thousand of pigeons and into a local market. Here we saw some bizarre things, such as llama fetuses, used by the shamans during rituals and one of the most disgusting drinks, frog juice – said to relieve stress and anxiety, it’s made from live frogs, literally killed there and then by whacking them on the counter, then placed into a blender and mixed with a few other ingredients to make a type of smoothie! Being vegetarian I escaped the foul mix, but a few of our group gave it a go and there was gagging sounds and horrified faces all round! Kudos to them for giving it a go though, but for me I think I’ll stick to yoga for my stress relief! 

Just when we all thought we had done enough experimenting for one day, we went for lunch at a place that served the traditional dish of guinea pig – deep fried and cooked under a rock, the poor things looked like battered rats and I’m told tasted of chicken, having kept them as pets all my life I found it pretty horrific to look at but embracing culture the group tucked in whilst myself and a couple of others wimpishly munched on our salads in the corner.

After lunch, we headed up to a beautiful view point, with views right over Arequipa and the volcanoes. I loved Arequipa with its colonial streets and quaint little cafes, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. One day was just not enough – I would love to go back.

The following day we were on the move again, this time we were heading upwards into the mountains, travelling from around 2500m right up to 3600m. We were advised to start drinking coca tea, (made with the leaves they use to produce cocaine) or to chew on the leaves to help with altitude sickness (which taste horrible – but work!) We stayed in Chivay and spent the afternoon strolling around the local town, picking up a few bits in the local market and had started to get used to being at altitude. We found the highest Irish pub in the world so of course it would have been rude not to stop by and have a beer! 

(yes, it was really cold there….)
The following day altitude sickness really started to kick in, think your worst ever hangover, with a crazy pressure headache, cold and shortness of breath all rolled into one, that’s about how it feels. However we tried to forget about it as we were up early to visit the Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world (the first being in China). Here the scenery is beautiful beyond belief. We drank coca tea and munched on coca candy to get by whilst trekking through the breathtaking scenery. Whilst we were at the canyon, we were lucky enough to see around 20 condors circling, their wingspan around 3m, I’ve never seen such a large bird of prey in the wild, and we were told we were so lucky to see so many,it was an amazing experience and quite a sight.
We spent the afternoon trying to cure our altitude sickness by relaxing at the local hot springs, which was just what the doctor ordered after a long morning trekking at the canyon too. Beautiful. 

Our next stop is Lake Titicaca, where we met the ‘reed people’, stayed with a local family, learnt to herd sheep and the traditional dance, stay tuned…!!






















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