Coming: Most likely this is not your first stop in Peru. Therefore you’ve already figured out your bus situation. If not- check out the differences in companies HERE.
Sleeping: MB Backpackers– Rooms are standard but it’s got a great location and a nice free breakfast with a choice of eggs and bread or banana pancakes. The rooftop bar has hammocks and a really nice vibe. It closes at 10 which makes it the perfect balance between social but not crazy- which is nice when you have a 3 am wake up for treks. Staff was extremely helpful and very nice. Reviews on hostelworld say to book tours through the hostel, but it’s going to be cheaper to book through an agency. Shop around. I booked through them and regretted it after talking to others. Wi-Fi would go back and forth between really quick and really slow. Make sure to read dorm descriptions as they all offer different amenities.
Overall- 9/10 Price- S/. 27.53 PEN (USD) for 10 bed mixed dorm Average to slightly above average for Arequipa
Eating: Burger Chulls- IT’S AMAZING. Delicious burgers (quinoa patties for vegetarians) and lots of options for toppings with three delicious sauces. Go with the sweet potato fries. They’re much tastier than the regular fries.
Doing: Trek, explore the city
Trek Colca Canyon- There are a few options here. 1 Day, 2 days, and 3 days. 2 and three days are exactly the same but three days is more spread out. For me personally, it would’ve bene WAY too slow and too much down time. Two days was perfect. One day has a different route, make sure to ask the differences. Two days was great. Make sure to bring a lot of snacks. On day two you climb around 1,200m vertical before breakfast (this ensures you miss the sun during your climb).
Price- S/. 90 PEN ($USD) is the cheapest I’ve heard the 2-Day trek going for. Most places will be S/. 100-120 PEN ($USD)
Volcanoes- There are three volcanoes surrounding Arequipa. You can summit each of them. This is a less popular thing to do since Colca Canyon is also a climb and the vast majority of people have just come from or are heading to Cusco where there are more mountains to be climbed. If you have the time and energy, though, it looks beautiful!
Explore the city- Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city. It has a nice feel to it and definitely less touristy than Cusco. Spend the day walking around and exploring. There is a market, but it’s no different than any other market and walking tour- which happens to be the worst walking tour I’ve been on. The guide was very clearly making up answers when we asked questions he didn’t know the answer to and was very hard to understand. Even when I tried to ask him in Spanish his answers were unclear. That being said, I met a great group of people so ended up having a really good time.
Staying: 3 days is perfect. Arrive early from the night bus and book your Colca Canyon trek. Spend the day exploring the city and preparing for your trek. Take your 2 day trek and either head out on the night bus to Cusco or early the next day.
Going: Most people go to Cusco from here. I went to Puno for the day first before making my way up to Cusco. Some opt to go to Cusco first then hit Puno on the way back down on their way to Bolivia or skip it all together if they’re heading to Bolivia as the Bolivian side of Titicaca is said to be more beautiful. If you’re going the other way then you’re onto Nazca or Huacachina! (I don’t think Nazca is worth it).