6/15, day 37:
A few days ago we finally arrived in Peru! Its only been a few days, but the difference between here and Chile is very noticeable (in a good way). The Spanish spoken in Peru is way easier to understand than in Chile, and we can understand almost everything locals say here.
Arequipa is a charming city, with mountains in the background and green valleys in the middle of dusty hills. The hostels are cheaper here, we found one for only about 7usd per night.
Today we decided to go rafting down a river near Arequipa, as it was only 75 soles per person ($25). It included transportation, wetsuits, and all the other equipment we needed.
It was a pretty fun experience, and the rapids went up to class 4. The river ran down a beautiful green valley, with the mountains in the background. We got to spend about an hour and a half on the river, and it was definitely worth the money.
6/16-17, days 38 & 39:
Today we woke up early at the hostel because we were going to climb a volcano. We had seen flyers around the hostel for climbing Mt. Misti for only 240 soles ($72), which included transport, equipment, guide, and food.
When we got to the entrance, we hiked 6 hours uphill to the base camp, which sat at around 4300 meters (14,100 feet). It was a pretty easy hike, as our guide had us go slow.
We at dinner at 5, and watched the sunset over Arequipa. At 6 we had to go to bed because we had to wake up at midnight to begin hiking to the top. Unfortunately, we didn't sleep too well; my sleeping mat deflated, Ben and I had colds, and the high altitude made it hard to sleep.
At midnight we woke up, and it was pretty hard getting out of our nice and warm sleeping bags to eat breakfast. An hour later we began hiking up to the top, which was another 6 hours from base camp.
About 30 minutes in, one of the people hiking with us decided to turn back because she wasn't feeling well. I ended up having to translate between the guide and the woman because she didn't know any Spanish, and the guide didn't know much English.
We had to wait about 30 minutes for the guide to take the woman back to base camp. However, while we waited, we got to look down at Arequipa in the dark with the whole city lit up. It was a pretty view, with the orange moon and bright stars above the city.
When the guide got back, we continued on our hike, and with each minute of walking, it got colder and colder. About 3 hours from the top the climbing became more difficult; it got steeper, freezing, and the higher altitude made us out of breath.
The last three hours felt like an eternity, but eventually we reached the top, which was at about 5822 meters (19,101 feet). The view was breathtaking; we could see the whole city, the different mountains, rivers, valleys, and the crater of Misti. Unfortunately, we couldn't see any lava, but it was still impressive.
The way down was easier and way more fun than the climb up; it only took 40 minutes to get back to base camp, a big difference from the 6 hours to get to the top.
Most of the way down we were striding in the sand, sliding a couple feet every step we took. We were both pretty exhausted and decided to stay in Arequipa for another day so we could rest. Tomorrow we are taking an overnight bus to Cusco, and will most likely remain in Ollanta until late July.