Arequipa, condors and canyons

The White City, as Arequipa is known due to the light-coloured stone used for building, is surrounded by majestic volcanoes. It’s beautiful, charming and a contrast in many ways to Lima, its (much) bigger brother further north.

 

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Plaza de Armas and the cathedral
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Beautiful square
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Colourful market where we tried several fruits; some weird, some wonderful and some both
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Potatoes! Did you know that Peru has 2000 different varieties of spuds? Yes I found it hard to believe too
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Convento de Santa Catalina. A tranquil place
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Bright colours
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There was a small garden in a courtyard where we stopped for coffee. This hummingbird suddenly hummed out of nowhere. I grabbed my camera and managed to shot 7 frames. Luckily I managed to get this one which I believe is better than any shot I got in Ecuador of hummingbirds out of my 400 photos. Typical!
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A 3 day trip out of the city to the Colca Canyon lets you drive through the Altiplano, a barren, high and sparsely inhabited, but surprisingly beautiful arid landscape. This is El Misti, one of the volcanoes that towers over Arequipa (on the other side)

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Vicuñas at close to 5000m above sea level
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Long and dusty road
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A major draw of Colca Canyon is the chance to spot Andean condors. These birds are huge, having a wingspan that is one of the largest in the natural world
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The wingspan can be as large as 3.3 m. This allows them to soar on thermal that come up from the canyon below. At the viewpoint you get to see these birds close up and as a bonus the scenery is spectacular
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But I never said they were beautiful…
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Guinea pig for dinner? I actually never got round to trying it. Probably just as well
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Way down there was the oasis, our resting point for the night. But of course you can’t go straight down there but take a long way round and down to the canyon floor
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It has some steep slopes
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After a tough day’s hiking you can relax in the pool, well you could if it wasn’t so damn cold. I tried, I wanted to relax but it was so hard and just too cold
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The next day you exit the canyon. Sounds easy until you realise you have a thousand metres of vertical ascent to do and it goes straight up. Actually it’s a blessing that you start at 4 in the morning. Otherwise the intensity of the sun at this altitude would make that climb hellish. It’s worth it for the views that reward you at the end

 

Next up: Dunes, desert lines and ocean

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