a guide to Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, Peru was a dot on our map of South America mostly for convenience.  We did a taxi border crossing from Chile into Peru and Arequipa was the next real city across the border. We had two days to explore the city but had we known everything Arequipa had to offer, I think it's safe to say Tash and I would have liked a few days longer. 

Here's a quick guide to the colourful city of Arequipa!

Where to stay?

Tash and I stayed at Marlon's House. Marlon's is a well-located hostel with plenty of cheap private rooms. We stayed in a private room, each with our own twin bed. The bathroom was supposed to be shared between our room and the other private room next door, though we never ended up sharing since we practically had the place to ourselves. Marlon's was clean and the staff were friendly. I definitely recommend staying here! 

What and where to eat?

It's important to experience the food of a culture wherever you go. And being in Peru means chocolate! ChaqChao was a cafe close to our hostel that had decadent desserts. Honestly, the food in South America as a whole had been really hit and miss. It wasn't as flavorful as what we were expecting, so when we stumbled upon India Indian {yes that was the name} in Arequipa we were so happy! The vegetable samosas were to. die. forrrr! 

What to do? 

There are heaps of day trips to treks and hikes, unfortunately, due to time shortage {bummer, I know}, we weren't able to book. However, there is plenty to do within the city limits! 

Tour the colourful Monastery! The Santa Catalina Monastery is known for its red and blue walls and for the mystery that's surrounded it. The monastery, which is actually a nunnery, was closed to the public until 1970. Investigations have revealed that families of the city gave their second daughters to the nunnery and lived in isolation inside the colorful walls. It's really interesting and the inside is beautiful. There is a small admission fee and the option to take yourself through the monastery or go on a guided tour. 

Learn about chocolate! ChaqChao is a cafe and a chocolate factory. They give tours that show you how Peruvian chocolate is made from grinding the plant by hand to melting and molding it. you must book your tour ahead of time and there are no tours on Sundays, so plan ahead. If you don't plan, however, all is not lost. Order a cup of pure hot chocolate {yes, even in the heat it's worth it} and play board games on the rooftop patio. 

nailed it. 

nailed it. 

See 'Mummy Juanita'! Juanita, who is also known as 'The Ice Maiden', is an approximately 12-year-old girl who was found almost perfectly preserved in ice on Mount Ampato. It's believed that she was sacrificed as part of an ancient ceremony, and thus died with great honor. You can visit the museum where she is kept for a small fee. No cameras are allowed, however, there is an educational film bit to watch! You can go into the preservation room and look at Juanita. It's insane to see how well kept she is after 500 years! 

Stroll around the Plaza! Every great South American city has a plaza. A plaza is basically a beautiful open space that's free to the public. And, guys, they are all gorgeous. The architecture is incredible. Pack a picnic and enjoy the people watching or visit the main cathedral. Both activities are free! 

Sometimes it's the unexpected stops on your larger journey that end up being among your favourites. This was true for Arequipa. I wish I had more time to explore the treks outside the city, but I will most definitely be returning for more South American goodness...soon. 

Happy exploring!