Peru: Arequipa, Colca Canyon  Oct 2017

Arequipa located in the south of the country is Peru’s second largest town (870,000 inhabitants). Founded in 1540 its historic center has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city located at 2,300m and surrounded by a chain of volcanos reaching 6,000m is home of 2010 literature Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa.

The Monastery Santa Catalina de Siena, founded in 1579, is a city within a city. For several centuries it was home to nuns coming from the regional elite who – together with their servants – each were occupying their own apartment.

With a depth of 3,270 meters (10,730 ft) the Colca Canyon located about 160 kilometers northwest of Arequipa is said to be the second deepest canyon in the world. Special attraction is the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), with a wingspan of about 2.1–2.7 meters, which can be observed at close range when soaring along the rim of the canyon.

Ploughing the fields in the steep slopes of the Colca valley is back-breaking work. Mind that the women who is leading the pair of oxen is carrying a baby on her back.

Peru offers an abundance of great places for wild camping. Staying overnight at 4,500m near the Laguna Mucurca with an active volcano in sight.

Shortly after passing our camp a truck loaded with alpacas broke down. Every Peruvians lorry driver is a skilled mechanic who is able to dissemble and fix the wheel breaks in the middle of nowhere using only basic tools.

In the Peruvian Alte Plano (highlands) the alpaca (a small relative of the lama) is the main domestic animal. It gains up to 65 kg and one animal is worth about 80 to 90 €. Slaughtering the alpaca and preparing the meat for selling on the market is daily routine in the village.

Surprisingly the owner was happy when he realized that the slaughtered alpaca had been pregnant. As he told us he will bury the fetus behind the house to worship Pacha Mama which will bring fertility and good luck to his family.

The (mostly) gravel road from Chivay to Sicuani leads through a scenic landscape with several mountain passes higher than 4,500 m. One particular spectacular place is located near Laramani, 20 km south of Laguna Langui.

Getting a horse is quite easy: A short chat and the friendly old man invited us to mount his horse for a ride.

Lake Langui is located at exactly 4,000m of altitude. Farmers are trading their products at the market. The local food specialty is trout.

The town Layo, located at the far end of Laguna Langui, is celebrating its 140 years anniversary with a costume parade.

Part of the parade was a performance in remembrance of a massacre which took place some 50 years ago. In the course of a labor conflict a group of campesinos (small farmers) had killed one of the land owners. In retaliation other land owners massacred several dozens of farm workers and their families before the army arrived in order to intervene on the side of the landowners.

The Langui area offers nice hikes to mountain peaks reaching more than 5,000m.