Monday, 5 November 2012

Huacachina-Arequipa-Cusco

Arequipa was brief but enjoyable stop even though we decided not to go to Colca Canyon. As Peru's second largest city we weren't expecting much apart from too many cars with beeping horns and high prices but thankfully it was not nearly as touristy as we feared, well there were far too many beeping horns, but overall we were pleasantly surprised.

The beautiful snow capped mountains surrounding Arequipa


To get to Arequipa from Huacachina required a 12h over night bus. We went with one of the most reliable companies, Oltursa, who gave us a pillow and a blanket, as well as dinner when we boarded at 8.30pm, fantastic service and they were one of the cheapest options we found (S/75pp for semi-cama).

We arrived early in the morning, around 7am and took a taxi (S/8) to a lovely hostel called, Amazing Hostel Arequipa which was a wonderful place to stay with large dorm rooms, a kitchen, helpful staff, an amazing view from the roof and banana pancakes for breakfast (no photos as Harry ate them too fast!). 

Thankfully we were allowed to check in right away then we could explore the city, but there was not much to see as it was a Sunday and, of course, everything was closed. I hate Sundays! 

The streets were dead on Sunday
 Though the Central Park was very beautiful to spend some time in as was the central market which was by far the most organised market I have ever been in so far.
Beautiful central park
Because we decided not to go to the Colca Canyon (the major tourist attraction near Arequipa), we had a lot of time just to wander (and play punch buggy... there were so many Volkswagen beetles there!) and time to catch up with this blog! 

On the evening of our second day in Arequipa we took the Cruz del Sur night bus at 8.30pm (10h) to Cusco. We got very lucky with that bus company as we asked at the station, when we arrived in Arequipa, for tickets and apparently they frequently do discounted seats on the buses which you cannot get online so we went with Peru's most expensive bus company for only S/61pp for semi-cama (normally S/98pp).

My best advice is to book tickets at the station or with the travel agency within the city you are leaving from. The seats can be up to 50% off! Also note that there was a S/2pp departure tax from the terminal.

Cruz del Sur was the best bus I have ever been on, with the most leg room, a great chair incline, dinner (they cater for special dietary preferences) and warm blankets. We event got to wait in a lounge before we boarded. Now that is definitely not something we are used to!

When we arrived in Cusco at 6am, we spent a good 30mins negotiating (then eventually arguing) with a taxi driver who wanted to charge us S/8 into town; it was no more that S/4! We hate it when we are being ripped off because we are "gringos" so in the end we walked 35mins with our bags to our hostel. Pride can be a tiring thing!
The city of Cusco from the hills

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