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Arequipa, Peru - A Good Place To Get Used To Altitude (2300 Meters)

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Map location: Arequipa, Peru
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Peru travel blog by Mark Berman - April 2009 June 2012 January 2019   » View Photoset (47 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
I have visited Arequipa three times now, in 2009, 2012 and 2019. Arequipa is reminiscent in some ways of Cusco and is known as the white city because of its many beautiful white buildings. One of the highlights in the city is the beautiful Plaza de Armas - a big wide open plaza with palm trees, grass areas, flowers, fountain, pigeons and people enjoying the sun. It's surrounded by white buildings with the cathedral and many 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 places like Puno.

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've seen 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

Up the hill away from the center is the neighborhood 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.

The Founder's Mansion

The Founder's Mansion (La Mansion del Fundador) in Arequipa is something you can see on a tour or you can make your own way there. This is the amazing mansion with a chapel and beautiful flower gardens of Garci Manuel de Carbajal who founded Arequipa. The mansion is well-restored and features antique furniture, paintings, photos of the family and beautiful architecture.

Historical Municipal Museum

Beside Plaza and Church San Francisco in Arequipa is the Historical Municipal Museum where mostly there are paintings of famous local people on display in the main gallery. These people include Javier de Belaunde Ruiz de Somocurcio (1909-2013), a lawyer, politician and historian, Jose Simion Tejada Mares (1826-1873), also a lawyer and politician and Francisco Gomez de la Torre (1865-1938), another lawyer. There's a sculpture of Manuel Domingo Pantigozo Pinto (1901-1991), a painter and transcriber. The museum has 10 rooms focusing on prehispanic culture, colonial architecture, combat and war, local earthquakes and much more.

Tour Offices

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 pace.

Cheap Hotels

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 here too. I stayed in the San Lazoro neighborhood on the 3rd occasion.

Bus to Juliaca and Puno

After my first and third times in Arequipa I headed to Juliaca (6hrs) and Puno (40mins further). 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 takes 5hrs and 30mins.


View all photos in the Arequipa Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Arequipa, Peru:

Il Riposo Hostel, Arequipa, Peru - Large Photo
Il Riposo Hostel, Arequipa, Peru (January 2019 - 1 night) - Located in the San Lazaro neighborhood in Arequipa, Riposo Hostel is good for the price of $45 soles ($15USD) for a room with 3 beds and a shared bathroom outside. The hostess is very friendly and helpful and there is a common area downstairs to sit and relax. The only problem was that the beds were not very comfortable, especially the double bed.
Hostal Terminal, Arequipa, Peru - Large Photo
Hostal Terminal, Arequipa, Peru (June 2012 - 2 nights) - A nice room in a budget hotel beside the bus terminal. TV and bathroom, helpful friendly staff. Much cheaper than the hotels in the central city. Recommended.
Casona Blanca Hostal, Arequipa, Peru - Large Photo
Casona Blanca Hostal, Arequipa, Peru (Apr 2009 - 2 nights) - Nice room and bathroom, pleasant outside area where you can sit in the sun to have your complimentary breakfast in the morning. Within walking distance to the beautiful central plaza area, lots of shops are in the area.

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Arequipa, Peru - A Good Place To Get Used To Altitude (2300 Meters). They call it the White City, but not for it's buildings. But because of the snowy mountains surrounding it. Arequipa is a nice place to visit on your way to or from Bolivia!