A couple of days in Arequipa

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
4
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
8
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
5
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
5
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
3
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
7
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
62 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Peru
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 125
Time of year visited
May
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
182nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 60% SUMMARY RATING: Great experience

Summary

I think the city centre of Arequipa must be my favourite old town in Latin America (or at least joint with Havana!).  The Unesco world heritage site is a series of beautifully maintained streets with white stone Baroque buildings all with facades of intricate carvings that give you the feeling of being in a different time and world.  The low rise nature of the buildings (almost all are only 2 stories tall to protect from earthquakes) add to this vibe, and so do the three majestic, dramatic,  perfectly coned volcanoes that surround the city off in the distance

On top of that, the food is superb and its a great starting point for a 3/4 day adventure for Hiking and zip-lining in the Colca Canyon

A must visit for Peru, along with the adventures near Cusco area (see entries for more details on these – Machu PicchuHiking the 4 day / 3 night Inca Trail, Driving through the Sacred Valley, A walk around some of the key Inca sites near Cusco)

highlights

#1 Wandering the white stone streets, finding hidden courtyards and catching occasional glimpses of the towering volcanoes in the distance

#2 Checking out the eerily quiet Santa Catalina Monastery right in the heart of town

#3 Grabbing a rooftop, looking over the low level city with volcanoes in the background and having a drink as the stars creep in

#4 Working your way through some of the seriously high quality restaurants on offer

#5 Heading into the various pretty, secluded courtyards that are dotted all around the hidden spots of the historic centre

Travel Tips

  • The highlight for me of Arequipa was wandering through the Unesco World Heritage city centre,  but make sure you also check out:
    • The Santa Catalina Monastery – the high walls around the monastery make this place feel so separate to the rest of the city and worth a visit
    • Santuarios Museum – to learn the story of the Juanita, aka the ice mummy, a 12 year old girl sacrificed on one of the volcanoes in the 1400s, yet preserved in the cold temperatures.  The story of how she would have came to be there and how she was found is fascinating
  • Rooftop drinks – make sure you find a spot to have drinks or food on one of the rooftops (there are many to chose from) where you can look over the low rise white city and see the 3 volcanoes looming in the background
  • The food is amazing in Arequipa.  We had dinner at Chicha por Gaston Acurio, which more than lived up to the hype
  • We stayed in the centre in a hotel called Palla Boutique Hotel.  Lovely inner courtyard, nice rooms.  Highlight is the roof which gives a stunning view of the city and volcanoes – a fitting place to celebrate your day exploring . . . or a return from an adventure to the Cola Canyon!
  • For tips on other great experiences in Peru and for an itinerary for a trip there, see 2/3 weeks for the highlights of Peru

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone