After leaving the deserts of Peru, we are beginning our ascent into the Andes and the Altiplano. The Altiplano is a huge plateau that sits at a high elevation extending from Peru to Bolivia. We are slowly making our way up to acclimatize and hopefully avoid the effects of altitude sickness. Arequipa is our half way stop at an elevation of about 2300 m (for reference, Banff is at 1400m).
Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and is surrounded by three volcanoes (one of which – El Misti – gave us flashbacks to a familiar Mt Fuji). Our favorite site in the city was the Santa Catalina Monastery with its vividly colored walls and over 20 000 square feet to meander through. Despite being open to visitors, there are still 20 nuns living in solitude within the monastery today:
It has been one of the only attractions that we have had to pay for thus far but it was worth it just to see how giddy Sania got over photo taking. If I had a counter for the number of times she said “cute” it would be in the triple digits.
Some of our favorite spots in Arequipa:
1) La Iberica: The best chocolate maker in Peru that calls Arequipa home. The 57% Bitters chocolate (with Cocoa nibs!) is delicious and a must try.
2) Zig Zag Restaurant: A romantic restaurant with the possibility of sitting on the balcony overlooking the park. It normally requires reservations, but if you show up earlier in the evening you should get it without a problem. They have assorted meats/fish that they bring to you grilled on a hot stone.
3) Santa Catalina Monastery: The obvious focus of this post, this monastery can be walked for hours. It’s expensive to enter, especially by Peruvian standards, at 8 Soles (or $32).