El Misti

Arequipa Travel Blog

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After the awesome two weeks or so in Cusco what we were about to face in Arequipa, Peru´s 2nd largest city, was always going to be a lot more challenging.  First up we went to the Colca Canyon for a two day trek.  The Colca canyon being almost the deepest canyon in the world (until the one next door was discovered) and is twice as deep as the grand canyon.  It also had lots of interesting volcanic geology which kept me entertained at least!!  It was a tough hike out of the canyon rising a 1 in 4 gradient for a kilometer rise at four o´clock in the morning.  But it was worth it just to be crammed onto the local bus to the Cruz del Condor.  It was amazing just how many people they fitted onto that bus.  It was a regular coach type thing but we were standing iin the aisles, three people across.  No exaggeration there it was absolutely rammed with people, mostly locals going to the Cruz Del Condor to sell various artisany stuff to the coach loads of tourists that arrived thrity minutes after we did!!  So we got to see the condors really close up as they rose on the morning thermals, the birds are pretty much too big to generate enough lift to get themselves in the air!!!  Eventually though the place was rammed with about thirty coach loads of day tripping tourists who would not shut up.  So we left for the nearest hot springs (a bit like Macchu Pichu!).
We´ve also climbed the Volcano "El Misti".  Its 5825m high and is a real monster to climb.  It looms over the city of Arequipa and is pretty much your stereotypical volcano shape.  We climbed it at an average of 100m altitude gained every half an hour, which is excruiatingly slow but necessary because of the altitude and steepness of the thing.  The view from the top was the mot awesome sight I have ever seen.  It was absolutely fantastic.  And yet again, as with most mountains, I got dragged down from the summit well before I was ready to go.  Having taken 14 hours to reach the top (in two days) we got down in about three.  This was thanks to the brilliance that is surfing down volcanic sands and gravel.  Like scree surfing but less painful if you fell over.  You just start running and let the avalanche of volcanic material carry you down.  You do have to put some effort in but if you move your feet like ice skating you get down so fast.  So we descended the first 1km on a 37 degree slope!!!  Which was both insane and insanely good fun.  The rest was shallower but still awesome.
Next up off to Lima to say goodbye to Lizzie as she flies home for retakes.  I guess messages of support and good luck from Teddies and geologists before the retake on Monday would be welcome there!
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photo by: halilee