Peru travel blog by Mark Berman -
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I have visited Arequipa twice now, in 2009 and 2012, each time for 2 nights. Arequipa is reminiscent in some ways to Cusco. One of the highlights
in the city is the beautiful Plaza de Armas - a big wide open space with palm trees, grass areas, fountain, pigeons, seating and people enjoying
the sun. It's surrounded by white buildings plus cathedrals and archways. The setting is amazing with the snow-capped mountains in the distance. There
are many good restaurants and bakeries in the city and the center is very clean.
Get Used to the Altitude
Arequipa is at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level, so the
climate is not too cold. It's a good place to get used to the altitude before traveling to higher ground.
Churches, Plazas, Museums, Parks
The city is full of historic buildings
with interesting colors and facades. Many of the streets are made of cobblestone with sidewalks made from larger smooth stone slabs. There are 16
churches, monasteries and convents in the city. I visited a few including Iglesia Santa Marta, Santa Rosa, Santa Teresa, San Francisco and Santo
Domingo. There are nearly 20 plazas and parks and 7 museums also, so there's a lot to see.
San Lazaro Neighbourhood
I walked up the hill away from the center to an area known
as San Lazaro. It's a neighbourhood with narrow streets and walkways, streetlamps and houses with arched wooden doors and windows with flower pots hanging outside.
It's a nice neighbourhood to walk around and you can see good views of the snowy mountains - Volcan Misti and Volcan Chachani.
There are tour offices
offering tours to Colca Canyon. The tours leave at around 3am in the morning in order to travel to Chivay to see the condors in time. On the way
back it is possible to see wildlife at Pampas Canahuas, views from the mirador at Patapampa, swim at the thermal pools in Calera and see the
church of Maca. I would love to do this tour one day! Better still, make your own way to Chivay and spend a few days enjoying the area at your own
On my first time in Arequipa it was hard finding a hotel in the center that had a vacancy. My 2nd time I found a good budget hotel right beside
the bus terminal. That was much better and there are many restaurants and shops around there too.
Bus to Juliaca and Puno
After my first time in Arequipa I headed to Juliaca and Puno
The journey was all things bleak, barren and beautiful with snow-capped mountains, giant rock formations and wide open spaces. I loved to sit and take it all in.
The highway is in good condition. It is amazing how they built this road through that kind of terrain. After my 2nd time in Arequipa I headed to Atico on the coast which took 5hrs and 30mins and stayed the night.