Peru: Ica & Arequipa
After a little taste of Lima, capital and 1st city of Peru, we continued our journey further South to Ica. Ica is a small town which particularity is to be surrounded by sand dunes and vineyards. Oh and it is also home of the famous Pisco liquor (that we found later to be some kind of grappa but we hope to not offense anyone!). There is an oasis nearby Huacachina, but frankly there is nothing special about it except that you can climb the dunes around and watch the incessant and noisy sand buggies going back and forth with big bunches of backpackers on board aiming for a thrill(?).
We must confess, we treated ourselves for 2 nights with a very good hotel in Ica called Las Dunas (yep another vacation in our vacation, last one dated August 2016, remember?). This hotel is a resort and offers a lot of activities on site (including sand boarding!), some kind of all inclusive hotel or Club Med but typically Peruvian, which made us loving every moment there.
We took part to a lot of the scheduled activities and enjoyed the conviviality of the animation team as well as the Peruvian guests. We were the only Westerners and it made it very special. We also took a day out in the country side to visit the excellent Tacama Hacienda, the very first winery built by the Spaniards in South America, dating 1542!
After Ica, we travelled to Arequipa, 2nd city of Peru. The so called white city came from the volcanic stones of silica that were used to build the historical center. It is a charming city and is easy to navigate. The highlight was the visit of Santa Catalina of Siena Convent. It was funded by the Spaniards in the early 16th century and is still on operation. The city within the city was huge for the era, it had even its own street names! The tradition used to be that the second daughter of the rich and wealthy families from Spanish descendants was taken at the age of 10 to become a novice and spent her entire life behind the convent’s walls.
we did specifically enjoy
- Arequipa: the Museum of the Cathedral and the Santa Catalina Convent. We spent a lot of time in the convent exploring each corner of it! This place has a wonderful potential to take great pictures and more! We highly recommend the lovely Arequipa!
- Ica: Hotel Las Dunas, a great hotel with a good restaurant and a funny animation team.
- Arequipa: Hotel Bubamara, a small hotel in the historical center and close to everything.
- Ica: El Tambo de Tacama, the restaurant of the hacienda, the best meal we had in Peru so far!
- Arequipa: El Buda Profano a vegan sushi restaurant, a first time for us. Incredibly tasty and so unique. We specifically liked their “tofu & cashew nuts maki”. The team of 3 is a mixed of a French, an American and a Peruvian chef!
Best Kept Secret Tip
- Ica: take some time to visit the Tacama Winery, a beautiful hacienda with lively colors, a wonderful restaurant and great wines.