A MUST DO ACTIVITY IN AREQUIPA IS TO VISIT THE COLCA CANYON, which is one of the deepest in the world. To get here, it’s easier just to book a tour. Most tours go for 2 days, either a round trip back to Arequipa, or onwards to Cusco. I booked one that allowed me to leave the group and go to Puno (and onwards to Lake Titicaca).

My tour costs significantly higher, but there were only 9 in the group, and it is advertised as being off the beaten track. All of us gathered at 7 in the morning, ushered into a small yet comfortable bus by our guide Paul. We had a diverse group of people, Janelle from the US who is ending a 6 month South America tour; Robin from the Netherlands who just lost all his bags; Aliocha a Russian Dutch? who seems like a very funny person; a young Brazilian couple who suck in games (we found out later that night); a Dutch couple who works at a beach (I never thought they have beaches in Holland!) and a pair of German expat couple who lives in Chile.

Paul was a very informative guide, giving us a lot of information about the landscapes and culture of the places we passed by. Before entering the canyon, we had a chance to stop first at a National Reserve, near El Misti and the other volcanoes. We went on for a hike, spotting some viscachas (large rats that look like rabbits) along our way. The path is quite challenging though, we had to jump, squeeze, and crawl at times.

As soon as we stepped back into our bus, it started raining heavily. We stopped at a high altitude “toilet” before entering a town for lunch. After an exciting tour of the market, we eventually arrived at our eco-friendly lodge. The lodge is quite large, and we had the whole place to ourselves. We spent the night playing a traditional frog game, and “Jungle Speed”, a game I would not recommend after drinking alcohol (because it someone may get hurt, haha).

Nevertheless, the game seemed to break ice and everyone had a great time. Although everyone had bruises and scratches, new friendships were gained in return.

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Walking around eerie-looking stones.

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It takes a village to help someone cross a narrow path.

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The desert looks different after a short rain storm.

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Young boy selling fruits.

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That’s a whole truck load of lamb!

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Exploring exotic fruits at the market.

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Wonderful view from my room.

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Everyone gets competitive during the frog game.

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After a few rounds of alcohol, the Jungle Speed game can get quite aggressive.

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