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Hello Peru - Lima, Arequipa and the Colca Canyon

sunny 25 °C

´She´s the puzzle piece behind the couch that makes the sky complete´ Alison´s Starting To Happen by The Lemonheads

Hola

Hola from Peru

We are in the lovely city of Arequipa and yesterday we returned from a 3 day/2 night trek up and down the beautiful Colca Canyon. The scenery was stunning, the skies were blue and we really enjoyed trekking into the worlds deepest canyon.....and back out again!

Friday March 14th
A day of travel. We arrived in Piura in Peru at 7am after our border crossing in the middle of the night. The first half of the journey in Ecuador was bumpy and windy and we didn´t get any sleep. After crossing the corder at 4am the roads were smoother and we dozed until arriving in Piura. We jumped a cab and asked the driver to take us to an ATM and then a hostel. Our flight to Lima wasn´t until 8.40pm so we wanted to get some rest. We booked into the Hostal California and slept until mid-day and then wandered up to the main square for a bite to eat. We went to a nice hotel restaurant and started to feel human again after a nice lunch.

We had a lazy afternoon wandering around town, checking the latest news online and reading in our room before heading to the airport. The flight left on time and we arrived in Lima just before 10.30pm. We jumoed a cab into town and checked into the Lion Backoackers Hostel in the Miraflores area. After a day or two of travelling and hanging around we slept soundly!

Saturday March 15th
We started the day by finding a laundry near our hostel and outting just about everything we own in for a wash. We then caught a bus into the centre of Lima, only we got off a little early and had to walk a few blocks to the main square. The square was beautiful with the presidential palace dominating one side, a huge old church on the other and beautiful colonial buildings with arches the other two.

After a walk around the square and the surrounding blocks we stumbled across a magic old pub, that we latyer discovered to be the oldest in Lima. It was a block off the square down the side of the Presidential Palace and it is called Bar Cordano. It was still before mid-day but we ordered a beer each and ended up getting some great sandwiches and something called Cerviche (6 mussells with lemon sauce, pepper and spices), yummy. The bar staff seemed to be as old as the bar!

After a snooze we wandered around Miraflores,checking out some jewellery stalls and some paintings in the oark before stumbling across a street we had read was known as ´pizza street´. We had pizza and a couple of beers and then headed for an early night.

Sunday March 16th
We had breakfast, packed and checked out at 11am. We headed to the airport for our flight to Arequipa, which took a little over an hour. Arequipa is in South Peru and is known as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the country. We quickly realised that this is true, the city is surrounded by 3 huge volcanoes and the buildings in the old town have been beautifully preserved.

We checked into the Colonial House Hostel and then went to their affiliated tour companies office to enquire about hiking tours into the nearby Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world. We booked on a 3 day/2 night trek leaving the next morning for only $53 each and also booked an overnight bus for March 20th to Nazca and then a 45 minute flight over the famous Nazca Lines.

At night we had dinner on a rooftop restaurant down a cobbled lane just off the main square. There had been a procession in the mian square earlier to mark the start of Holy Week. The square is dominated by a huge church and it may be the nicest square we have seen. We went back to the hosteland packed our small packs for the next 3 days, leaving our big packs in storage.

Monday March 17th
The tour bus picked us up at 7.30am and we headed out of Arequipa and up the hills towards the canyon. We would not actually reach the canyon until the next day, so this day was spent stopping at little markets, villages, viewpoints to Volcano Misti and taking a pee in the worlds highest toilet! This is a lovely part of the country, little towns that have hardly changed in centuries, apart from the odd tourist shop and hostel!

The altitude kicked in so we had some coca tea and chewed on coca leaves to ease our breathing. The highest point we got to was over 5000 metres. We had a late lunch in a town called Chivay and then had a 1 hour trek up a hill to marvel at the surrounding countryside.

At night we went to some hot spings in Chivay and then had dinner before collapsing into bed at 10.30pm, eager to get some sleep ahead of a 5.30am wake up call and a day of trekking!

Tuesday March 18th
We got our wake up call from our tour guide, if only she had given the kitchen staff a wake up call! The hostel staff were eventually roused and we had a light brekfast before heading off to the canyon, stopping off at a small village where the children danced around the square at 6.30am. Apparently it was traditional but I couldn´t help think that it was for tourists.

At around 8am we arrived at Cruz del Condor, a point in the canyon where there are several condor nests. The view into and along the canyon was spectacular and we didn´t have to wait long until condors were swooping down over our heads. Their wingspan was massive and they were an impressive sight.

At 9am we left our group of around 30 into a smaller group of 4, the only ones brave enough to hike 1,400 metres down into the canyon and back out again. We were joined by Andrew from Sydney and Vish from London, both good guys. Our guide was Ali (like the boxer) and we all piled in a small bus and drove half an hour to the point where we would begin our descent.

The sun was splitting the sky, one of the nicest days of our travels. We set off down a path that zig zagged down the hill, stopping every now and again for a rest, to marvel the views and to let donkeys pass! In the middle of the canyon there are small villages, with no road access, so everything is transported in and out of the canyon by donkey - apart from us.

It took us almost 4 hours to climb down to the foot of the canyon and we crossed an old foot bridge to the other side. We then climbed up to a tiny village and stopped off for lunch. Suitably refuelled we pressed on up the canyon and then wound down to the base again, crossing another bidge to our home for the night - a hostel called Oasis. It was more of a converted farm than a hostel and I think the room we had could have been a pig sty! It was a tiny building made fom mud bricks with a thatched roof. The bed was comfy though and we had some nice wam blankets.

Oasis did have a pool though, and after a day walking in the sunshine we all went in for a 30 minute swim. Dinner was served outside and we sat and chatted as the sun went down at around 6.30pm.

Our wake up call was due for 3.30am the next day so we headed to bed at 7pm. At around 9pm a water well sprang open and ran right past the side of our hut. Realising we would get no sleep we gathered our belongings and moved to another hut.

Wednesday March 19th
We woke to the sound of our alarm at 3.30am and met a very sleepy Andrew and Vish. We all put on our head torches and Ali led the way slowly out of the canyon in the darkness. We walked at a steady pace and topped to watch the sky gradually becoming lighter, the shadows changing on the hillsides around us. The sun was up at 5.30m and the sunshine seemed to wake us up a little bit. We pressed on up the canyon and enjoyed tremendous views. I doubt that our pictures will do the canyon justice but check www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn

We reached the top of the canyon at 8am, 4 hours after starting off. We walked for another 20 minutes to a small village where we wolfed down 2 scrambled egg rolls and a mug of coco tea. At 9am we jumped on a bus back to Chivay. We got there at 11.15am and we booked on to the 12.30pm bus back to Arequipa. With an hour to kill we all jumped in a cab to the hot springs to eases our aching muscles.

We all slept on the bus back to Arequipa and then agreed to meet up for pizza and beer at night. We went back to the hostel for a well needed shower and nap!

At night we went to a funky little pizza place near the square and enjoyed some well deserved ice cold beers. The Colca Canyon tour was excellent, the views are absolutely stunning and we enjoyed some exercise - training for the Inca Trail, which we start on March 28th.

Thursday March 20th
We slept very well after some broken sleep the previous few nights and some ealy starts. We´ve had a relaxing day wandering around the beautiful city of Arequipa and visited the Monasterio D Santa Caralina. A beautifully preserved nunery from the 15th century. Tonight we get an overnight bus ot Nazca and then tomorrow morning we fly over the famous Nazca lines. After that we head back to Lima to meet our friend Craig and then it is off to do the Inca Trail!

I´ll try and update the blog again before that.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 08:32 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world

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