Arequipa: We’re Home


Our first two weeks in Arequipa have been really nice, though a bit of a mixed bag. For the most part we’re really enjoying our time here, especially continuing to try very tasty and interesting Peruvian food. But there are a few things about Arequipa that have been less than ideal, so I’m going to get those complaints quickly out of the way first before I share all the things we’ve enjoyed about Arequipa.

The Rain (Literal and Metaphorical)

These first two weeks have been at the tail end of rainy seasons which means that nearly every afternoon it rains. Luckily the mornings are beautiful and sunny most days, but that doesn’t really align with our usual preferred schedule since we both work best in the morning. And we remain busy enough to be reluctant to lose too many morning hours. 

The other scheduling mismatch is that a number of the museums here close at 3 p.m., before our usual workday ends, and most of the best restaurants are only open for lunch. It’s very much a first-half-the-day city. So that has stood a bit in the way of us getting out as much as we normally would in the first two weeks. We’ll probably end up leaving Arequipa with some museums unseen, but that may be for the best since we’re both so busy right now.

Our Apartment and Neighborhood

Luckily we love our very comfortable and charming one-bedroom apartment. We chose a place with a large terrace and view of the enormous volcano just outside of town called Misti. Our neighborhood is called Yanahuara and we’re about a 25-minute walk from the historic center, just far enough away for our area to feel not the least bit touristy. We have a beautiful plaza down the block and a major avenue with a mall and two large supermarkets about a 10-minute walk away. So our living situation is pretty much our ideal. 

Amazing Food

We’ve also found plenty of opportunities to continue learning about Peruvian food. It is such an interesting mix of indigenous-influence, typical Latin American, and Asian fusion. 

Our first meal out was at a vegan restaurant, Satiba, around the corner from our apartment. We enjoyed delicious traditional not-lamb stew and not-lomo saltado served with pasta in huancaína sauce, both made with really quality soy meat. Lomo saltado (beef stir fry) is an especially popular Peruvian dish. Then we had another vegetarian meal with traditional Peruvian foods in the old town at a place called Prana. We chose fried eggplant made to resemble traditional fried trucha (trout) and a trio of Arequipeña specialties – stuffed rocoto pepper (very spice), potato pie, and crunchy not-chicken.

After the Peruvian favorites, we branched out to fusion, starting with a a tapas meal where we tried actual lomo saltado, sauteed shrimp, and a very interesting paella. We followed up our tapas meal with buñuelos, a Spanish fritter popular throughout Latin America, for dessert.

Next we had the famous nikkei – Japanese-Peruvian fusion – which involves mostly Peruvian ingredients and Japanese preparation, enjoyed with sake and a fabulous mango and rice paper dessert called kari kari. 

Another food highlight was a delightful empanada picnic from the bakery around the corner that we enjoyed in our very own Plaza de Yanahuara followed by “queso helado” (cheese ice cream), which is a Arequipeña specialty, though doesn’t actually contain cheese. They call it queso helado because of the texture and how it scrapes up into slices that resemble cheese. They top it with cinnamon and it’s quite tasty.

Charming History

The main attraction of Arequipa is its long history that dates back to pre-colonial times and the fact that is the gateway to Colca Canyon (which we’ll see at the end of the month). Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city after Lima and has a lot of excellent colonial architecture, especially around its main square, the Plaza de Armas. Our first trip down there was pretty rainy but we made another visit on my birthday and it really sparkled on the clear evening. 

Our best museum trip so far has been to the old Recoleta Monastery in our neighborhood. The displays were really nicely set up to cover both the history of the area and the monastery itself. 

We also got to learn about the history of alpaca wool production and the camelids of South America at Mundo del Alpaca, which included the chance to feed some. Alpacas are really adorable animals and we’re hopeful we’ll get to see some vicunas later this month when we go to Colca Canyon. 

My Birthday!

Finally, a couple of days ago we had a great time celebrating my birthday here. We started with lunch out at our host’s most recommended restaurant, Tio Dario, which is only open for lunch. We had a phenomenal Peruvian seafood meal there featuring their special ceviche (with sea urchin), a tropical salad with mango (Peru has excellent mangos) and an African-Peruvian fusion dish called tacu tacu (bean and rice) with butter-poached fish. It was all amazing and delicious including the wine and anise digestif. 

After lunch we took a walk and revisited Mundo del Alpaca then came home to enjoy a Liverpool win. That evening we went out to visit a contemporary art museum and the beautiful Plaza de Armas before enjoying a light crepes dinner. It was a really perfect birthday. 


Clearly there is a lot to like about Arequipa even if it rains more than we’d like. We’re looking forward to the rest of our time here, especially our overnight Colca Canyon tour. I look forward to sharing what the next two weeks bring.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Kelly Boley says:

    The food looks amazing! I am a picky eater but I would be willing to try it!

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