Arequipa a city known for its white stone buildings. We spent the afternoon after we arrived from a very long bus, wandering around the city. The weather was noticably hotter than Huaraz. The next day we went to the museum of Juanita the Ice Princess. The Incas sacrificed her on El Misti, the volcano that looms over the city, and due to the top being coverd by snow she was really well preserved until another volcano close by errupted reveiling her, to be found in 1995. The exhibition was really interesting and had lots of artefacts from her burial site and that of several other child sacrifices found in the area. Bags and wooden tools so well preserved for over 500 years. The Incas sacrificed the children to the mountain Gods to prevent natural disasters. Sounds gorery but it really wasn´t. We took a walk up to a view point over the city and surrounding mountains.
After deciding to go into the canyon region on our own and not on a tour, we got a bus to Chivay a small town at the start of the canyon. The higher altitude meant we spent the eveing wishing for a fire. We were treated to a precession of local schools in traditional dress, which drew in the crowds.
In the morning we got an early bus across the top of the canyon to the condor look out point. Andean Condors like to fly on the thernal currents in the early mornings and late afternoons. We were lucky enough to arrive before the tour group buses. We saw our first couple of condors lower down, in the canyon. The first that flew close got the adreniline pumping. We had to wait a little while until more came out, it was totally worth the wait when they did! About ten came out and they were circling over head in the currents and swooping soo close. We couldn´t believe how big they are. They apparently can get up to 3 metres in length. Despite their size they are so graceful. It was wonderful to watch them up close. Luckily we caught a passing bus onto Cabanaconde a town on the end of the canyon. In the afternoon we trekked down onto the canyon. We foolishly didn´t think about how far down to the bottom it would be, and believe us it was far! It took about 3 hours. The colours of the rock were really pretty, and despite the hard slog the views were great. At the bottom there were swimming pools (they say its an oasis, but sadly it is all man made) where we thankfully cooled off, before the challenge of going back up!!! On the way up a couple informed us as we were struggling to breath that we had chosen to do the hardest trek in the whole canyon (foolishly).
We got the bus back to Arequipa the next day, where we met with friends from our trek in Huaraz, for drinks.