Peru Road Trip Part 1 : Leaving Arequipa
Peru Road Trip
After two days in Arequipa, we were ready to continue our journey in Peru to the Colca Valley. We would be making a long road trip, about 3-4 hours, from Arequipa to Chivay. The drive went through the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reservation, and I was very excited to see the wildlife along the way. I was apprehensive about a “road trip” , but it ended up being one of the best decisions we made.
I would highly recommend a private tour guide and car if you are able. July and Ernesto were amazing throughout our trip. We were able to learn so much more about the local culture and region thanks to their experience and knowledge. Other benefits included being able to stop for pictures when we wanted instead of being tied to a tour group and bus schedule. My husband loves to drive, and this Peru road trip ended up being his favorite part of our entire vacation. It allowed us to truly experience the country and learn so much more than we could have on a canned tour.
We had spent most of our time in the Historical Center of Arequipa and were excited to visit some other areas of the city on our way out of town. It was nearing Christmas, so a huge bonus was getting to see the different Nativity scenes. The districts competed each year to outshine each other.
.The trip out of Arequipa gave us an opportunity to see many other districts of the city. We saw our first glimpses of terracing and the country side was truly breathtaking!
I had become obsessed with Misti, one of the three volcanoes surrounding Arequipa, on our way out of town. I grabbed lots of pics from different vistas, and she was beautiful every time! The white volcanic rock from Misty, Pichu Pichu, and Chochani is used throughout Arequipa, giving it the name the White City (check out my other post for many examples of the beautiful architecture in Arequipa).
We passed through several different districts and learned about the building methods, abundance of amusement parks/playgrounds, and even the challenges with smuggling and black market trade. One playground caught our eye as our son is a major dinosaur fanatic. It seemed out of place in the surroundings, and our guide explained that it was actually a very controversial build. It cost nearly $4 million dollars to construct and many would have preferred public funds be spent in other areas, like healthcare.
We also saw more and more unfinished houses as we passed out of the main city. The taxes for a completed dwelling were so much more expensive, that many people would leave the rebar exposed to maintain taxes as “under construction.” Some cities had rules as to how long you could remain “under construction.” Others in Peru had no limit so it became a very common site as we would visit other cities as well.
As we left Arequipa, we passed through land with very isolated homes. Again, our amazing tour guide taught us so much about the area that we would not have learned on a typical tour. These houses were built illegally, in areas deemed dangerous for occupation. They lack adequate water, sanitation, police and fire response, and many other necessities . The residents built them here in hope that one day, they could claim ownership and a bit of land for their family. They can’t afford land and a home in the city and are essentially “squatting” on this land. The residents are also taken advantage of at times and “sold” land that the seller has no real right to.
On to the Road Trip!
As we left Arequipa, I was getting more excited about the rest of the road trip to Colca Valley. We had learned so much about the city just driving through. We had a list of local wildlife to look for in the Reservation and would hit our highest elevation during this journey. I’d always focused on just “getting where I was going” during my vacations. I’d stepped out of my box with a road trip and was loving every minute of it! Check back in for Part 2 and our adventure through the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reservation.