To travel to Arequipa, known as the White City, I took the 14-hour Lima Arequipa bus overnight. Arequipa’s altitude is significantly lower than most other major cities in Peru, save for Lima, but it is a beautiful city and there are a ton of things to do in Arequipa, plus Peruvian guinea pig to be eaten!
Lets be real, backpacking Peru is basically just always being in the outdoors.
Day Tour of Arequipa Peru
Plaza de Armas de Arequipa
Fresh off my night bus, I arrived in town and after searching near and far though many Arequipa hotels (apparently there was a mining conference in town, but I did manage a dorm bed) I started just aimlessly wandering around the beautiful city streets.
This would have been easier if my feet were not swollen to full term pregnancy size. Seriously, my feet, were gigantic. I pondered if I would ever see my ankles again; they were even beyond the state of cankles.
But I trudged on, checking out the many squares and churches of Arequipa, most notably the picturesque and peaceful Plaza de Armas.
Museo Sanctuaries Andinos
I also checked out the Museo Sanctuaries Andinos that has a frozen body in it from Inca times. Without going into details: young girl, sacrificed to mountain gods, body left in ice, volcanic eruption, body rolled down mountain and found, now in a freezer for public viewing.
Her name is Juanita. I prefer her nickname, the Ice Maiden, as it is not merely the female version of the dude’s name who found her (Johan, I mean come on, you find a frozen body from Inca times and you name it after yourself!). But as odd as the abbreviated story is, the museum was quite good, some actual items from Inca times that were preserved by the ice, so it was very impressive.
Eating Guinea Pig in Arequipa Peru
Besides frozen corpses, Arequipa is also known for its cuisine.
Before I left home, I had a certain foodie (whose wallet is thicker than mine) nagging in my ear about Peruvian grub. And in his spirit, I decided that I was going to walk my massive feet into one of the nicer Arequipa restaurants, Zingaro, and order something awesomely Peruvian. Guinea pig it is!!!
Cuy, as it is called, is traditionally a huge source of protein for the locals, which I think is a far better use for the rat like mongrels than keeping them in a glass terrarium and having them poop in your hand every time you take them out. The things about eating cuy: a) It’s much more expensive fare than I normally go for, and 2) It is served whole.
Like, head, feet, little creepy ears and teeth. Whole. But I knew this, so I went for it. Also, since I was already blowing the budget, I ordered an appy soup and a glass of wine. When in Rome/ Arequipa!! I also wanted to make sure the restaurant wouldn’t kick me out, as I looked like garbage as you can all imagine.
So guinea pig: very tasty! Kind of tastes like fried chicken. The skin gets all crispy and flavourful, and the meat, what you could pick off that teeny skeleton, is tender and yummy. I did try to not look at the face all that much, but really, once one of the kidneys fell out, all bets were off! I did not eat the kidneys. Would have needed a lot more wine for that!
Rio Chili White Water Rafting Arequipa Tour
The morning after my revenge of the cuy, I went white water rafting tour, which was an excellent break from hiking, and was a ton of fun. I went down the Rio Chili with Ecotours, and did up to Class 4 rapids, I know, I’m super h-core. I did paddle, and I did not fall out of the boat, and I did look amazing in my jaunty helmet. The views were fantastic, and being protected from the sun by the wet suit was great.
After my rafting career ended, I ate some delicious ceviche and drank Inca Cola, always Inca Cola.
Places to Stay in Arequipa
Accommodation in Arequipa
Casa Andina Premium Arequipa
Hotel Libertador Arequipa
Hotel Plaza San Antonio
Hotel Boutique Villa Elisa
Inti Punku Lodge Hostal
Casa de Avila
Speaking of Inca Cola, lets interject:
Inca Cola is the Peruvian answer to, everything. Sure you can get Coke and Fanta, but why would you when you can order a neon yellow beverage that tastes like a sugar cane meets a pop tart meets Cream Soda?!?!?! I was actually a pretty big fan of Inka Cola, I starting to think I needed to wean myself off of it. I had this vision that my insides were starting to turn nuclear yellow and that on my way home I would be stopped by U.S. Customs and tested for being a nuclear bomb, or a mule for a nuclear bomb. Again.
That night, I had booked a bus out of Arequipa to the Colca Canyon. Which looks close on a map, but was the trip actually took 7 hours on a shit bus all night long.
So the bus left at 1am. Onwards to the Cruz del Condors!!!
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