I arrived in Arequipa with every intention of doing another solo hike (because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time, I suppose). There is a rather spectacular trek through the Colca Canyon, second or third deepest in the world depending on the metric you use. The standard tour runs between two and three days and stays primarily in the central part of the canyon. I mapped out an alternative route that brought me further west in the less touristy areas but this also doubled the elevation gain and added a day, making it a slightly more challenging trek than the last one I completed, but with the bonus that I would be able to stay in local villages along the way so I would not need to carry a tent nor any meals with me.
After a couple days of planning and about 70 soles spent on maps, I eventually wussed out and took a one day bus tour instead. My feet were still not back to normal and I just couldn’t mentally commit to more solitude. I am not on some pilgramage or walk-about to find myself; I know myself pretty well by now, thank you very much. For once I decided that I didn’t have to do something the hard way, and I got to hang out with some fun people on my bus in the process. The bits of Colca Canyon I did see were absolutely gorgeous and when we stopped at a lookout, a huge condor flew mere feet from my head. The bus did end up with a flat tire, but that just meant we got to stroll around the town of Chivay for the afternoon. Not a bad way to spend a couple hours. And in the end my feet were much happier with me.
Also while in Arequipa I ran into my friend Lucy, who I had met in Cusco along with her friend Emmy- we went out drinking and dancing though their stamina outlasted mine and I called it quits at only 3am. Clubbing at altitude is hard work! Suffice to say I have no photographic evidence of the evening, probably for the best. We parted ways, with them heading south to Boliva and me heading north back toward Lima and eventually Ecuador. Such is the nature of backpacking friendships, alas. Next stop, Huacachina!