I spent a few days in and around Arequipa, a very nice colonial city in Southern Peru. Within the city itself there are a lot of religious sites, including many churches, the cathedral and the Santa Catalina monastery. One of the main sites is the monastery and I spent a couple of hours visiting it. It is huge, like a separate village walled off within the town centre. It was really interesting to find out about the way of life for the hundreds of nuns that used to live there and the few that still remain today and there was a lot of impressive colonial architecture. I also visited the university run museum which displays the body of the child mummy Juanita found on one of the mountains overlooking the town. As the Incas believed the mountains were Gods there have been numerous child sacrifices found in the mountains across the Inca territory. Strange to think that it was thought of as an honour and privilege to be sacrificed, but only the best children were chosen. Because of the burial conditions the mummy was still in very good condition so they have done a lot of studies on the body and you could even see the facial expression of the child.
I also spent 3 days trekking in Colca Canyon, which has apparently just been reclassified as the deepest canyon in the world. It is a few hours drive from the city to the canyon, which was not the most comfortable ride on an overcrowded local bus that required a break for some repairs on the way. From the village of Cabanaconde we started trekking, down into the base of the canyon where we crossed over the river and climbed the otherside to a small village where we stayed the night. On the second day we had a couple of hours walk in the morning back down into the canyon to an oasis where we stopped for a few hours for a refreshing swim. In the afternoon this meant we had a steep 3 hour climb back out of the canyon to reach Cabanaconde. It was really hot and hard work and would have been good to have another swim at the top to cool off. On the final day we went to a viewpoint to watch condors flying over the canyon. Despite having seen quite a few before now, they are really impressive birds to watch flying and a couple of them came very close to the cliffs so you could really appreciate the size of them. From there we went to the village of Chivay where we visited a hot springs before getting the bus back to Arequipa.