Tomorrow I shake the sand from between my toes leaving Mancora and heading to Arequipa. Spending more time here would turn me into a beach bum! It’s been a relaxing contemplative time by the sea – swimming, walking on the beach, and enjoying the people. Mancora is a special memory, but it’s time to move on and explore new places.
Totally new territory, Arequipa is far south in the Peruvian Andes near the Chilean and Bolivian borders. It’s a long 36-hour drive from Mancora. Peru has well-organized “luxury” buses with reclining seats and meals served on-board. Hoping it’s a better experience than Colombian and Ecuadorian buses where the rides took longer than expected, but certainly resulted in some interesting side adventures!
The first segment is Mancora to Lima – 19 hours – followed by Lima to Arequipa – 17 hours. The temperature change from Mancora’s high 80s to Arequipa’s 60s is significant, not to mention the increase in altitude.
With a population of about a million, Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city. It’s nicknamed “La Ciudad Blanca” or “The White City” because its buildings are made from sillar, a white volcanic rock. Arequipa is surrounded by three volcanoes:
A volcano is considered “active” if it has erupted since the last ice age, i.e., in the past ~10,000 years. “Extinct” volcanoes aren’t expected to erupt again, but just the same, there have been a number of extinct volcano eruptions in the world.
A strikingly beautiful colonial city, Arequipa attractions, include:
- Plaza de Armas with its beautiful twin-towered cathedral
- Santa Catalina Convent an abbey for 400 years with a walled colonial town
- Museo Santuarios Andinos containing the mummy Juanita the Ice Princess discovered in 1995 below Mount Ampato
- Colca Canyon one of the world’s deepest canyons formed by an enormous seismic fault between the Coropuna and Ampato Volcanoes
- Cotahuasi Canyon a deep, remote canyon with extreme and challenging trekking
Visitors to Arequipa often climb El Misti Volcano. The climb involves a two or three-day trek that’s supposedly one of the easiest ascents of any mountain of this size in the world. I love hiking but being prone to altitude sickness, am not much of a climber. After acclimatizing will review the options and consider whether an El Misti climb is for me. It definitely sounds like fun!