Arequipa Top 6 Things to Do in the White City of Peru
January 1, 1970
by Mandy Hale - Wander Monsters
Visit Juanita (The Ice Maiden) at Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries)
Holy Jesus, if this little tour does not leave you walking away with a whole lot of respect for the strength of the Inca people, and a heavy gratefulness that sacrifice is no longer a done thing (at least in our cultures) then you either have a heart of stone or are have Incan ancestors. I found this an incredible story of bravery, strength and a culture so far from my own.
If someone had told me that a Kiwi/Peruvian fusion bar existed in one of Peru’s largest city, I would have thought that interesting. If someone had told me that this bar would also make the best Pisco sours you have ever tasted I would have been well, cynical. But they do, it’s true. It doesn’t stop with just your classic Pisco Sour either. The Maracuya or Fresa is delightful, while the Lucuma sour is a twist on the classic with a typical fruit from these parts (it tastes like a delicious caramel smoothy!). Anywho I feel like you could throw almost any flavour at the Kiwi bartenders and be pleasantly surprised. My recommendation? Try the Chincharron Tacos for dinner with a classic Pisco Sour…just to start! Kiwi or not, you’re bound to feel welcome, enjoy a marvellous taste of food and bevvys and leave with a smile on the dial. CHHUR.
Eat at Mercado San Camilo
If you’ve been to Cusco already, think San Pedro markets, but less hectic, more organised, more…polite. The San Camillo markets are the central markets of Arequipa and are a burst of colour, food, culture and life. If you want a cheap, local lunch, the upstairs balcony is loaded with Picanterias. However, through some local advice I managed to have three taste bud-assaulting, good experiences which I will now share:
- Papas Renellas. Deep fried, stuffed potatoes (similar to a Bolivian favourite but less heavy on the deep fry…). The best ones come from the lady stationed on the right as you first enter the market. Make sure you use the Picante sauce with each bite for optimum nom feels!
- Yollas – Mistura de Sabores. The best place to try Chincharron (deep fried pork), Lechon (suckling pig) and Cordero (slow roasted pork). If you’re game, or have a partner to share, you HAVE to go for the triple plate – a taste of all three. Warning – this will bring on the meat sweats, but it’s totally worth every drip.
- A fresh Jugo. The best Jugos in town can be made fresh by any of these ladies. Puzzled by the dilemma of which fruits to mix? Here’s your answer: Lucoma, Naranja y Fresas – fucking heavenly!
Sip a beer from one of the rooftop bars surrounding the Plaza de Armas at sunset
Arequipa was for me the most beautiful city in Peru yet (sorry Cusco). The Plaza De Armas is take-a-step-back stunning, with its well-groomed park, the dominant Cathedral, currently decorated with a giant Christmas tree and nativity scene for the festive season! We all know a good sunset can’t be beat. SO why not climb 4 or five flights of stairs to any of the rooftop bars around the Plaza de Armas and accentuate the beauty of this gorgeous city with a beer and the romantic tones of dusky sun! Soak it all in with your Arequipena and enjoy.
Not for the faint-hearted – but a popular local event, held on Sundays is the Arequipa Bull fights. A traditional activity where the Cowboys come to town with their best Bulls and pit them against each other in a massive sandy arena. It sounds brutal. In all honesty, it is brutal. However, it was a local experience that was outrageously enthralling. We managed to convince a local guy to ditch his football game and help us find the bull fights instead. Trust me, they are not well advertised or easy to find. If you can find a local to accompany you then you’re far more likely to get here. Be prepared for raucous cheering, aggressive gambling and a LOT of beer. Tickets cost 20soles.
Don’t be fooled by what this pretty and proper looking city might yield as a first impression. There is a nightlife here, it’s a bloody good time, and it’s not hard to find if you’re in the right place. The Wild Rover is (as always) an obvious place to start for backpackers. If you want to get boozy before the party in a more chilled setting, the Kiwi Corner is a sweet spot. You’ll be guaranteed some sports actions, a ridiculously delicious range of cocktails (see point 2 re Pisco Sours!) and beer plus a friendly welcome from the owners!
AND THAT is my Arequipa big 6 within the city! Overall we stayed here for a total of 8 days (including a 2 day trip to the Colca Canyon!)…that’s a long time in backpacker standards and these highlights show how little the temptation was to leave!Two other notes on staying in Arequipa:
- Do the Colca canyon! It is a super cool experience trekking the second deepest canyon in the world! If you want to know more check out my post – Conquering the Colca Canyon
- Mountain biking down the side of one of Arequipas surrounding Volcanoes is an adventure activity up for any one down for a bit of a rush. I would just warn you to be careful with who you choose. We went with a bit of a dodgy operator, the name escapes me (Did they even have a name? Hmm I see where we went wrong now) and the experience was less of a downhill mountain bike more of a road skidding fight on warehouse quality kids’ bikes. I still feel the bruises on my…you get the picture, choose wisely.