Exploring South Pacific Ocean to Lake Titicaca, Peru

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After Exploring Lima & Peru’s Desert Wonderland, this blog describes the second stage of our anticlockwise, circular journey around Peru – from the South Pacific Ocean to Lake Titicaca, exploring AraquipaColca Canyon & Puno.

From Nazca, we had our longest day, driving to the beautiful city of Arequipa, seeing a great deal of the coastal area and agricultural fields, including olive groves as far as the eye can see and further. The journey took 12 hours, with several viewing and refreshment stops. It was day 5 and we left Peru’s section of the Pan American Highway ,  turning inland on the mountain road to Arequipa (2350m). The coastal desert, with some massive sand dunes, suddenly giving way to an oasis  – we were in fertile river valley, very popular for both growing olives and shrimp farming. We spent two nights in quaint hotel in the center of Arequipa. Next morning we had an Arequipa city tour, including Santa Catalina Convent.

Arequipa is UNESCO approved for its stunningly attractive & historical colonial architecture – the city is like an oasis in the desert –  the beautiful historic buildings often using white volcanic stone quarried from the nearby Misti Volcano, which dominates the skyline. We visited the Cathedral, the Jesuit church of La Compañia and the amazingly Santa Catalina Convent – it shows both how wealthy Spanish nuns of the 16th and 17th centuries lived and is still also active today  –  but today’s nuns live in a modern building.

Day 7, we had a  spectacular drive taking us to the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons, passing a number of volcanoes and seeing vicuñas before we crossed the Patapampa Pass (4910m), then descending on to the canyon itself. The twisty road to the town of Chivay, where we spent the night, provided contrasts of lovely green terraces of the canyon, compared to the dry rugged landscape of the higher ground. Alf felt the effects of altitude, going over the Patapampa Pass and was grateful spending the night at  3600m.

Day 8 we left early, having a full day exploring the Colca Canyon, seeing many of the mighty Andean condors, gliding on the thermals. We also saw ancient tombs which line the cliffs on one side of the canyon, and made various stops in villages along the way. A highlight of the day was an hour’s walk along a rugged track, with stunning views of the canyon.

Day 9, we drove via Sillustani through the mountains to Puno (3800m), on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  We stopped to view the burial towers (chullpas) of Sillustani.

Day 10, we had a full day, both on and around Lake Titicaca, visiting the descendants of the Uros Indians, who live on islands of floating reeds  – still  living much as their ancestors of earlier centuries.

Day 11, we leave for Cusco and Machu Picchu, the third stage of our journey but that’s the focus of the next blog.

To view our photos, tap on the appropriate photo below and press the right arrow, choosing between:

  • Arequipa
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  • Colca Canyon
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  • Puno/Lake Titicaca
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