Tuesday 29th September 2015

I went for brekky on the terrace in the morning and Chachani was looking beautiful in the morning light.
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And El Misti too!
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And we could see the third volcano in the morning, Pichu Pichu!
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Here is a view from the terrace of Punta Grau street on which the hostel entrance is located.
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View of the Monasterio Santa Catalina`s church
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At breakfast, we were 5 girls sitting at 4 different tables. I started up the conversation by asking all of them if they had been to Colca Canyon. And the 4 of them had just gone there. It was super cool to create that conversation between tables while a minute before we were all isolated in our own world. This is also what I love with travelling, you have so much in common with the people sitting right next to you that in a matter of seconds you can comfortably chat with them and share tips and stories! The 2 girls at the same table were from South Africa. It realised that it was the first time in this trip that I was meeting travellers from South Africa! They have a blog here if you want to follow their travel adventure too:

They all gave me tips about the canyon and confirmed it was really worth going to see it and the more days I had, the better. However, the thing I was really keen on actually was to go to Cotahuasi Canyon rather than Colca Canyon because it is the deepest one, about 150m deeper than the Colca Canyon. It is also reputed to be less touristy and more wild, more pretty. Located 12 hours away from Arequipa though, it meant that I would need 4 free days if I wanted to go hiking there.
So the first logistic issue I spent a good hour on was this question: How do I get from Arica to Putre? Is there buses in the evening? If there were, then I could go from Arequipa to Arica and then straight from Arica to Putre in one day on the 4th October, if not I would need to break down the journey in two days. I could only find information about one bus leaving at 7am and arriving around 10am in Putre, but it seemed that otherwise there was no other bus during the day. Then I read that it was possible to take a taxi at any time but that it would cost 100 USD for the journey. Considered that it could give me the opportunity of going to Cotahuasi Canyon, I was ready to pay that. Now that I had found the answer to this question, my next mission was to find an agency organising the trek to Cotahuasi canyon starting the next day. I had read in the Lonely Planet that Colca Trek agency was doing that, and they do actually advertise this trek on their website here:

So off I went in the streets of Arequipa to Colca Trek agency, located on Jerusalen Street.
Here is the Punta Grau street on which the hostel was located.
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Another street
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And here is the Colca Trek agency entrance.
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I walked in and asked about the 4-day trek to Cotahuasi but they said they were not organising it at the moment because they didn`t have enough people going. True, I forgot that, it was already end of September now. It is great to travel in low season but it does have its drawbacks too. I asked if they were organising a 3-day trek to Colca Canyon then but not even, they were only taking people there for 2 days which I was not keen on. They recommended to me to try Pablo Tour, in front of them, so I tried but they had the same answer.
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Then I went to Peru Schweiz Explorer, and they were still not going to Cotahuasi but had a 3-day tour going to Colca Canyon leaving the next morning at 3am. While in the shop, I asked them for the WiFi password and checked them out on Tripadvisor. They had 4 stars and seemed well recommended, so I booked with them. The girl showed me on the map that we would go to Chivay and then Cobanaconde and start the trek from there and then hike inside the canyon where Tapay is written.
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Then we would be inside the canyon and go to San Juan where we would sleep the first night and then to Sangalle where we would sleep the second night.
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Sounded good! Sorted and booked! Tomorrow morning, they would pick me in the night at 3am. That was the earliest wake up I had done so far, but it seemed to be common in Arequipa! After that, I went for a local lunch in front of the hostel to this place.
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The menu sounded good.
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I pulled out the Lonely Planet book about Peru that Sarah had just lended to me and read it while eating.
Soup, Cazuela del Res.
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Main, Almendrado Pollo.
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My first mission was to go to the local post-office to ship out two micro-SD cards which were the back-ups of the photos of Huaraz and Iquitos. Once done, I felt better. If my bags were to be stolen, those photos were saved. Well, as long as the cards arrived safe and were not corrupted!
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Then I walked in the streets and passed the Iglesia de San Francisco.
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I decided to visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina.
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This monastery is like a huge city. A rich widow founded it in 1580 and was choosing the nuns among the richest families.
During 300 years, the new nuns kept the quality standards that they were used to and maintained this mini city with a high-quality standard of living. The monastery was opened to the public in 1970. Beyond the history of its buildings and how the nuns used to live there, it was a really pretty citadel within the city that I enjoyed exploring. Pretty little streets, pretty buildings, pretty doors and flower pots and fountains. A magical place. Here is a bunch of photos I took
during my visit of it.

After the visit of the convent, I headed to Plaza de Armas to find an ATM and withdraw money. Here is Plaza de Armas.
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Lots of pigeon feeding going on here!
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Arequipa`s cathedral occupies an entire side of the Plaza de Armas square. It was destroyed many times in several earthquake and each time got rebuilt!
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After that, I went back to the hostal, packed the bag for the 3-day trek, had an Arequipena beer and enjoyed the sunset.
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The colours a bit later were stunning.
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Tomorrow, alarm clock at 2.45am, pick-up anytime between 3am and 3.45am! Nuts!

Let`s go explore the Colca Canyon!! Yeah!!