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Turning 30 South American Style With the dreaded 30th birthday looming, I ran away to South America to celebrate the landmark birthday in style.

Valley deep mountain too high in Arequipa

PERU | Sunday, 22 June 2008 | Views [1068]

Arequipa is a lovely little city, ringed by volcanoes and built out of white sandstone rocks, a nice gentle introduction to tourist heavy southern Peru. We headed there on my insistence as I wanted to trek in the Colca Canyon nearby. And after getting off the bus I couldn't´t help feeling just a little smug as it is such a pretty place. Nice big plaza fringed with palm trees and two storey colonial buildings, all with pricey restaurants on their balconies. Our plan was to trek the Colca Canyon and then climb up Mount Mitsi, the 6000meter volcano that is visible all across the city. All was well until we took the bus out to Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world allegedly and undoubtedly a trek too far for us.
The bus ride itself was lovely with spectacular views 3000 meters down into the canyon, across subsistence farm terraces and little villages. The main problem was that this was by far the best view we were ever going to get. We spent the night in a rock bottom hostel and set out to trek to the bottom the following day at around 7am. Two hours took us to the bottom and a nice wee camp ground with a luxury swimming pool which had its own waterfall. A lovely day indeed. The problem was the return trip back out of the canyon.
We had gone the opposite way around to the tour groups and realised that may have been a mistake after three hours of sheer uphill climb with no break. It got worse after six hours and even worse on the seventh hour. SEVEN hours up hill, with camping gear strapped to our backs. It was awful and what made it worse was that there was no rewards whatsoever. The best view of the whole thing is from the top. And rip off merchants along the way charged five times the cover price for a bottle of water. Pretty essential stuff and left you feeling rather bitter about the whole thing.
On return to Arequipa we had some very much deserved cold beers and some lovely Turkish kebabs to recuperate and decided to leave the Misti volcanoes climb for now and get drunk instead. We deserved it.

Tags: arequipa, camping, campsite, colca canyon, latin america., mount mitsi, peru, south america, trek, trekking

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