Arequipa, the gateway to the highlands of Peru!
From Nazca we drove by bus to Arequipa, that city is located 2325 meters (7600 feet) above sea level and is a perfect city to do a little acclimatizing to get used to the height before you go in the the height lands of the Andes mountains! And time for laundry with the view of Misti volcano!
The Misti is an active volcano and about 5822 meters high (19000feet) and its peak is always covered in snow! El Misti is the best known volcano in Peru. The Misti is known as the 'gentleman'
Santa Catalina Monastery
In the middle of Arequipa is the Santa Catalina Monastery, founded in 1580 with the intention of protecting the daughters of the main families of the city. The monastery is a separate neighborhood in the old town full of small streets and squares with houses in red and blue colors. The monastery was completely closed to the outside world, but from 1970 it is accessible. A part of the two-hectare area is still inhabited by nuns.
Lovely red and blue streets and squares
View from the Monastery on "El Misti"
Salinas Aguada Blanca
From Arequipa we booked a private driver and car to discover the Salinas Aguada Blanca National Reserve! A big nature reserve on the eastern side of Arequipa on the height lands of the Andes mountains approximately 4000 meters high (13000 feet) The area is protected because the water reserves of the city of Arequipa are located there! Many volcano's and mountains surround the area, stunning view on volcano Misty and al the llama, alpaca's and the vicuña wandering around there! On the way we past one of the highest points of our trip. mirador de los andes peru, a mountain pass elevated 4910 meters above sea level (16000 feet). From that height you will immediately get a headache and you are immediately out of breath! The view from that Mirador is stunning, you can see Volcan Hualca Hualca (6,025m/19,767f), Volcan Sabancaya (5,967m/19,577f) Volcan Ampato(6,288m/20,630f), volcano Chucura (5,200m/17,100f)and of course the famous Volcan Misti!
The vegetation and villages at this point of our travel had changed to just patches of small plants, small rocks, big rock formations and a few small houses here and there. The roads were narrow and the car was twisting and turning and at every point we could see mountains and snow-capped volcanoes.
Our next destination was the little town of Yanque. That town is at the beginnings of the huge Colca Canyon! Carved out by the river Colca this canyon and is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in America. In contrast, the walls are not as straight as the Grand Canyon. The Cotahuasi Canyon, located more to the northwest, is measured at 3501 meters deep. Due to the weird shapes of the landscape (terraces) and the two large gorges, this place is easy to find on satellite photos. The Colca Valley is a colorful area with small villages. The locals still adhere to the old traditions and way of life and therefore still use the agricultural terraces!
The town of Yanque is a little town with a warm welcome committee! Woman in traditional clothes and animals dress up in a traditional way! Children in traditional dresses preformed a local dance routine! Also the predator birds that are living in the canyon are kept as pets to preform for the tourist. I personally don't like that because those animals have to be free and fly. You never got to know where they keep those animals, but i think the cage is not that big! it was a beautiful thing to see.
We got the change for a little walk around the village area and found some old graves in the mountain side, some hot springs on the river side and lovely old bridges made of ropes and wood :p
Graves in the mountain side in the Canyon!