After a couple of days spent in the Amazonas region, we headed to the southern parts of Peru. With the beautiful city of Arequipa as a starting point, it could hardly be any better. Sometimes called "The White City" for its dazzling ashlars stonework, Arequipa delights with unique, colonial architecture and charming streets. The city also has one of the most beautiful main squares that I had a chance to see during my travels.
Arequipa is surrounded by some of the wildest terrains in Peru, such as active, snowy volcanoes and high-altitude deserts which you can see pretty well even from the main square.
I could only wish it was possible to stay much longer in this lovely city and discover more than a local market, full of some crazy stuff like black corn and... euh... this:
And very beautiful, yet way too touristy Santa Catalina Monastery. Here's one of the very few images that I managed to take in that colorful place, without any people on it.
Barely fallen in love with Arequipa, we were already on our way to Andes and looking forward to some exciting expeditions and hikes.
The beginning of the journey was marked with the majestic views of the Misti, Chachani and PichuPichu volcanoes while approaching the National Reserve of Pampa Cañahuas, where a short stop was made to observe the wild vicuñas in their natural habitat.
At this point we were already at around 3.400 meters above sea level and soroche (altitude sickness) was giving me some hard time again. To alleviate unpleasant symptoms I got myself an original Andean “mate de coca” drink which, although rather tasty, turned out to be much less effective than actually chewing coca leaves. However, even if it almost made the headache disappear, occasional dizziness and a general feeling of being a little stoned remained.
We continued on the road, passing through the mountains and enjoying the incredible, out-of-this-world views of high planes full of even more lamas and guanacos. At the highest point, called Pata Pampa, located at almost 5,000 meters (!), the landscape looked truly lunar and not quite what I'd imagined to be at such an altitude. While in European Alpes at more than 1,500 meters there's hardly anything more than snowy peaks and narrow ridges of rocks, in Peruvian Andes at much higher altitude, the landscape looks like a rocky desert.
Going to Coporaque village afterwards, turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. Enjoying a typical lunch and then spending some time with locals was a wonderful occasion to shoot many portraits of those beautiful people.
One might think that only some of them wear those stunning, traditional clothes in view of tourists visiting Coporaque but wandering around the outskirts of the village I realized that there are actually many people, especially women, dressed that way.
The Andean adventure continued with an excursion to the Colca Canyon, considered to be the deepest canyon of the world (yup, more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States). Needless to say that it provided some of the most breathtaking views, especially that it's not uncommon to spot the majestic Andean condors flying over the canyon that is around 1,100 meters deep in that particular place.
Later on we headed to the villages of Chivay, Maca and Yanque where, again, the opportunities to take portraits were endless.
Whether at outdoor markets, little squares or on the dusty streets, the people (still mainly ladies) wear typically Peruvian and extremely good looking outfits. Not to mention one of the cutest animals that I've ever seen with my own eyes - alpacas. Those friendly and fluffy creatures are really numerous in every village.
The Colca Canyon area is one of the most known examples of andenes (stair-step like terraces). Many of them have survived for more than 500 years and are still in use by farmers throughout the region. At the same time they look extremely picturesque.
Those adventurous days in southern Peru were definitely too few and I would've loved to spend at least one more week there, exploring tiny villages and relishing sublime landscapes. However, we were supposed to spend our last days before heading back to Paris, in Lima.