This was not the most pleasant bus ride we have ever had, not the bus company's fault (though the driver did get lost twice!) unfortunately Angel had either eaten something or picked up a bug as he was sick all morning, we should have cancelled the bus but we took it anyway and he was sick the whole way, it was not fun. But we arrived in the evening and shared a taxi from the bus station to our hotel near the Plaza de Armas with a Spanish girl who was on our bus, this meant it only cost us 6 Soles (about £1.50).Public transport in South America is very cheap. Average taxi within a city/town is about 3 Soles, which is about 80 pence!
We had booked the hotel via the Trip Advisor app, which then took us through to the Hostelworld site, which must have had a glitch as it booked our room for the 20th of November instead of the 20th of October, luckily they had a vacancy. The main problem with the hotel was they had let the person who was in the room before us take the key with them on a 3 day trek, so our room had no key, we could only lock it when we were in there. This meant we had to keep all our valuables with us all day.
|Monasterio Santa Catalina|
We dropped off our dirty clothes (Angel had puked on himself) and booked our Colca Canyon Tour for the next day and headed to the magnificent Monasterio Santa Catalina, just a couple of blocks from the Plaza de Armas. This was built and rebuilt several times and was opened to the public in the 1970's there are still nuns in there now, not many and they are in a section of the monastery you cannot visit. It's the best example of colonial architecture in Arequipa.
|On top of the monastary|
|on our way to the canyon|
Off to bed for an early morning pick up for our tour to Colca Canyon. We booked with Colca Trek as Ellen (who has been doing all the reading) had read some really great things about them and Matt, Paul and Rachel who we met on the Inca Trail had done a tour with them and said they were great. We were not disappointed. Paul, our guide, was brilliant, really friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, our driver Willy was also great. We had another great crowd, everyone got along and no one was a pain in the arse. We drove out of Arequipa and stopped to see the active volcano Misti (5,822m), along with the other 2 Andes mountains you can see from the town Chachani (6,075m) and Pichu Pichu (5,571m). We stopped for Coca leaves and water and headed to the desert. After about an hour and a half of driving we stopped to see the most endangered (and expensive) of all, the Vicuna, there are only 110,000 in Peru, their wool is worth US$800 per kilo. There were also Llama's and Alpacas, which are domesticated, unlike the Vicuna which is a wild animal.
|Forest of Stones|
|really did not want to leave!|
We then headed to the Canyon. It was an hour to sunset so we checked into our magnificent hotel and then had a 45 minute walk down to the canyon edge where we arrived just at sunset, it was spectacular.
|Sunset over the canyon|
|Cruz del Condor|
Next morning it was a 5am wake up to get to the Cruz del Condor (3,795m), the place within the canyon where the chance of sighting Condors is most likely, after nearly an hour and a half of waiting and watching, just as we were about to leave an adolescent Condor flew by us, it was such a magnificent creature, so elegant and huge! We were so stoked to have seen one, it would have been a disappointment to have missed out. We then had a short trek up a hill to see some more of the Andes mountains (there are 3 x short treks on this tour, it was not a 'trek'). Just before lunch we stopped off at some natural hot springs which we had to walk over a very dodgy suspension bridge to get to, no health & safety here.