Relax and hike through election days in Arequipa

Spacious living room at the Casa Andina Private Collection suite.
See slideshow for more photos.

A hotel with style

We stayed at Casa Andina Private Collection, just next to the famous Monastery Santa Catalina and just a couple of blocks away from the magnificent and always lively Plaza de Armas. Casa Andina’s Private Collection indeed has the spirit of being in a special and exclusive class, initially testified by the magnificent welcome patio, exuding a combined spirit of elegancy and relaxed tranquility. Several big and comfortable sofas–to dive into while reading a newspaper, enjoy a delicious espresso or just sense the relaxing elegancy–made the stylish welcome patio a great place to hang out and enjoy.

Also the restaurant, the bar, the hallways and second patio gave the feeling of pure style, instantly reminding you that the building used to be “La casa de la Moneda”, built in 1794. The rooms were more traditional in a colonial style with comfortable big beds, nice spacious bathroom, complete mini-bar and cable television. And not to forget, the breakfast buffet was one of a kind with lomo saltado, tamales, bacon, yoghurt, French toast, pancakes and omelets made on the spot–and much more.

A challenging hike, not without its reward

The day before the election we headed out for a curious, and what turned out to be a very challenging and giving, hike to Las Cataratas de Capua, with the travel agency Dusoleil Tours. We were picked up at the hotel by a driver and our guide, Ernesto, early in the morning when we headed out to the deserts, some 40 km out of Arequipa city. Even though it was only 8.30am when we started the hike, the sun was already up and burning, promising us a warm and hard day in the sun. The landscape was, however, stunningly beautiful with it is curved hills, forcing us to go up and downhill during the one and half hour hike through the desert. We didn’t exactly forget about the heat from the sun, but the beauty of nature at least seduces your senses towards an aesthetic pleasure. Completing the hike through the desert, we reached the bottom of the canyon a narrow path leads you to the waterfall of Capua, its sounds already echoing from inside the canyon.

As one might have suspected, the hike towards the waterfall is mostly an activity in water. Sometimes with water to the ankles, sometimes to the knees, and sometimes if your feet slip; you will of course get wet all over. Luckily we didn’t slip, at least not in the water… But a challenge it was. Walking down on slippery stones in the water, jumping up on rocks or on to the scarcely vegetative bank, always forced us to keep the balance against the solid stream. The sensation of nature was, however, amazing. It was definitely a risk to bring my new camera on the hike, leaving me with only one arm for balance and support, but it was worth it. It was a bit like a heroic movie scene. Endless high walls of rocks or claystone as the frame; slippery and different shaped rocks and stones acted as nature’s obstacles to climb before we were rewarded with a spectacularly beautiful waterfall. It was the same time a deadly silent and disturbingly noisy fall of water from some 30 meters, secretly tucked away for an audience who isn’t willing to accept a challenge of one and a half hours, a heroic adventure climbing in harmony with nature.

And yes, we did fall: my friend, myself and the guide. It was exactly the fall of our guide that convinced us that it is no shame to fall when challenging nature in a way that would make Indian Jones envious. It was definitely a great adventure, and I can only recommend this awesome half day trip to las Cataratas de Capua, but be sure to bring a pocket camera, some good repellent, a cap, sun block and lots of water.

After a strenuous day enjoying and battling with nature, it was a great pleasure to return to luxury at Casa Andin with its amazingly good showers, strong espressos and always friendly and professional staff. In the afternoon we went out for a well deserved refreshment, and despite the current Ley Seca, we managed to enjoy some mojitos due to a smart bartender who was officially serving us mate de coca, however strangely the ice must have appeared.

Arequipa was a great experience; very tranquil, proud and friendly, and it is definitely a place to return to. And next time El Misti or Chachani must be included in the mission for an even greater level of challenging nature.

Thinking about travel to Arequipa? Contact the travel department,, where local knowledge meets world class service.