Visit a 500 year old Ice Princess (and more) in Arequipa

Foodies can dine on vegan sushi leaving the adventurous to hike the Culca Canyon, while history buffs will delight in charming baroque architecture.

Perus' capital's got something for everyone.

We spent a week in 'The White City'. In  Plaza de Armas we took a seat on one of the wooden benches that line the square. Unapologetic in our people watching, it was one of the best squares in Peru to soak up that old European feel. 

Plaza de Armas ( Arequipa, Peru )

Plaza de Armas (Arequipa, Peru)

Sunset from Terraza Arequipa Suits Plaza Hotel ( Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru )

Sunset from Terraza Arequipa Suits Plaza Hotel (Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru)

At night we went for a drink on the rooftop bar at Terraza Arequipa Suits Plaza Hotel, arguably the best place to watch the sunset over the city. 

The night we went, the brightest pinks and purples wisped out from behind one of Arequipa's surrounding three volcanoes like colourful smoke. The effect turned the white volcanic stone towers of the Basilica Cathedral into two tall, pillared silhouettes against the sky. 

Behind the main square lies Museo Santuarios Andinos, home to the remains of a 500 year old ice maiden mummy known as Juanita.

Juanitas' buried body was discovered in the snow of Mount Ampato in 1995, in near perfect preservation.

Plaza de Armas at night ( Arequipa, Peru )

Plaza de Armas at night (Arequipa, Peru)

A guided tour will take you through a rabbit warren of dark rooms, where different Incan artefacts are on display.

The tour leads to one main, cool, dim room where Juanita is displayed behind a thick glass box, like a mummy caught in a fairy tale. 

When you peer through the glass, her exposed, sun damaged face is the only give-away that her 12 -15 year old body was buried between 1450 -1480.

The rest of her is in near perfect preservation. It reminded me of the one semester I spent at Uni, studying cadavers in the physiotherapy lab.

Close to the main square, there's a old monastery that, on certain changeable days, opens it's doors to the public.

We went for a tour on one dark, cold night. 

Vegan sushi at el buda profano (Arequipa, Peru)

Vegan sushi at el buda profano (Arequipa, Peru)

Our guide led us through the labyrinth of dorms, kitchens and dining halls until we were so lost, we were dependant on her candle-lit lead to get us back to the entrance.

There's no way I'd want to be stuck in Santa Catalina Monastery at night. It’s the kind of place where slippered footsteps seemed to pass behind shadows that lie around every corner.

A fine way to explore Arequipa is to get yourself lost in the cobbled streets, then google star all the restaurants your bound to stumble across to eat at later. 

If you only in town for a couple of days, be sure to sample at least one of the following  restaurants that rival Limas' culinary reputation.

Try Zig Zag for a modern twist on classic Peruvian food, el Buda profano for vegan sushi, Crepisimo for a variety of French crepes and Las Gringas for artesenal beer and pizza.

Between eating our way around town, joining a walking tour, hiking the Colca Canyon, visiting a monastery, seeing a 500 year old mummy and attempting white water rafting (Census Day saw Arequipas' bustling streets become a ghost town where only a few confused gringos walked by), we were ready to move on. 

It was early October already. Halloween was right around the corner. Because of that pesky lil' thing called altitude, our paths diverged. Jade headed back to the bright lights of Lima, while I boarded the bus bound for Bolivia

Flying solo for awhile was a new experience in travel, but I was more than happy to see both Ha-day and Hamez three weeks later, when we met up again for another epic adventure, this time in the Amazon jungle.