After a 12 hour overnight bus journey from Ica, we arrived early in the morning at Arequipa. I didn’t have the best night’s sleep. We only opted for the semi-cama seat, which means half-bed as in the seat just reclined. But to be fair, it wasn’t a bad bus and the quality of it is actually on par with the newer National Express coaches in England. During the night I found myself taking deeper breaths every now and again. I didnt think much of it until I mentioned it to John and he said that he found the same thing…then we realised it must have been altitude.
At 2,335 metres (7,661 ft) above sea level, we have been warned that we may suffer from altitude sickness. So far, we have been okay. The only sign being a shortness on breath. We were trying to take it easy (as most people advise when you hit altitude) so after checking into our hostel, we went for a short walkabout around the city. As we were walking round, I would breathe normally for about 5 breaths and then have to take one big deep breath. I felt so unfit!! John was much the same.
Arequipa is beautiful, no, stunning is the word. The city is filled with Spanish colonial buildings with a backdrop of snow capped mountains and volcanoes. I could stand staring at the view forever! Its definitely a nicer city than Lima anyway. The atmosphere of the city is very laid back and everyone goes about running their daily errands with a big smile on their face. First impressions of this city are good!
Snow capped mountains surrounding Arequipa
With about an hours sleep between us and after walking around the city like zombies, we decided to go to the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries (Museo Santuarios Andinos) to visit Juanita, the mummified frozen Incan princess. We were given a tour of the museum and learnt about the Incans and a bit more about Juanita. It was very interesting and well worth going to. With only two days in this city before heading up to Cusco to meet Tom, John’s friend from home, we decided to book ourselves in for a one day tour to the Colca Canyon. The tour, however, begins with a 2.30am pick up. So with barely any sleep from the night before and a headache which developed during the day (another sign of altitude), we both hit the sack around 8pm.