After arriving in Arequipa a city of 1 million we found ourselves a nice hotel for around 8 pounds a night - fully equipped with Cable TV and excellent shower. First point of call was coffee and black jungle cake sitting in a cafe overlooking the central plaza. Life is relaxing at the moment. Some nice Italian food followed by a comfy bed.
It was time to do some more exercise. We joined a guide and rather controversially a French guy and set off early the following morning to the base of the volcano El Misti. Our plan was a two day ascent of this 5822m mountain which overlooks the city of Arequipa. Starting at 3400m we set off at a crawling snail pace. Within a hundred meters James was getting annoyed but held back. After being annoyed by irritating flies we started climbing up the scree covered slopes of the mountain. Six slow hours later we arrived at the High Camp around 4600m early in the afternoon. Sitting around in the baking sun we passed the remainder of the day eating and drinking Coca tea.
An early bedtime before the sun hadset at 6pm was in order prior to our 2am start up the final 1200m. A reasonable nights sleep was only spoiled by having to get up at 2am in the freezing cold. It was full moon and there was enough light to see by without using our head torches.
Very little can be said about a 6 hour climb up a zig zagging path slowly ascending the scree slope. Anne started to feel the pain around 5600m - needless to say James was still going strong! Around this time the top finally came into view. A huge 10m metal cross marks the highest point but was still iover an hour away. The French guy lent Anne his trekking poles to help her (a rather nice thing for a Frenchman to do). Eventually the summit was only a matter of metres away and Anne managed the final crawl before slumping to the ground for a short nap. James was surprised at how good he was feeling and was disappointed that there was no more to climb!
After about 20 mins or so on top we began the long descent - only intersected by a short excursion into thecrater. Surrounded by noxious gases we stood at the top of a 1200m scree slope. Despite taking nearly 6 hours to reach the top we would be down to the tents in a little over 25 mins. A fantastic scree run was negotiated safely by all - even Anne enjoyed it who normally hates scree.
An hour rest at the tents and we were ready to be off on the next 1200m down to the waiting 4X4 vehicle. Although slightly slower going we still did the descent in a little over 1 hours - James had managed to get his boots full of sand much of which ended up in the hotel room.
A couple of days followed in Arequipa chilling out visiting a huge convent, drinking coffee, cinema and watching Cable TV. We finally booked onto a 6am bus to take us to Cabanaconde, a small village clinging to the top of the Cañon del Colca. This is the second deepest canyon in the world only beaten by 143m by a canyon around 200km to the north. It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and has lots of condors flying around.
Found a nice hostel and then set off on a short walk which was cut even shorter by a sudden cloud burst of heavy rain. This was the first rain we had witnessed since Puerto Iguazu in Argentina over 2 months ago.
Arequipa - Peru
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