by Erin Elaine
With my Inca Trail date set, I had about a week in Peru before I started hiking. In order to reduce the risk of altitude sickness, I started my month in Peru with 3 days in Arequipa (altitude 2300m/7600ft). I figured this way, going to Cusco would be less of a shock (3400m/11,150ft).
As part of a free walking tour, I got to see some alpacas and llamas, feel the difference between alpaca wool, llama wool, and vicuña wool. We were also able to see some natural dying methods. Check out the bright red dye made from the cochinilla, an insect that I saw along the Inca Trail.
The central area of the city is really nice. I’d definitely say this was my 2nd-favorite city (after Cusco). Many of the buildings are made from a white volcanic rock (you can see a detail shot of the statue). For this reason, the city’s nickname is the “white city”.
Of course I enjoyed some great food while in Arequipa!
While taking a little walk up to a viewpoint to see Misti in her full glory, I also saw an alpaca just chillin’ and munching hay, its owner nowhere to be seen.
You may ask, what is the difference between an alpaca and a llama? Llamas are taller, heavier, and have longer snouts and ears. They are also often (but not always) multicolored, while most alpacas just have a single color.