The Ups and Downs of Cycling Arequipa, Peru
After sightseeing in the old town of Arequipa, Scott and I were ready for some exercise. We inquired at our hotel about a cycling tour and they set us up with Julio from Peru Natred, for a cycling tour of the outskirts of Arequipa, Peru.
Getting Out of Town
Our ride was to be 15 miles and take about three hours.
Julio, our guide, picked us up promptly and drove us to the edge of the city. He dropped us off with mountain bikes and explained how we would be on city streets for just a short time. He drove ahead and met us at the intersection so he could direct us to turn out of the city.
My bike was bigger than I am used too, and I had some struggles shifting gears. My chain fell off a few times, but eventually I got the hang of it. I have a mountain bike at home and know how to ride, so it was a bit frustrating not to feel confident on this bike.
The traffic was crazy, and we didn’t enjoy riding with all of the exhaust from the cars.
We saw our guide ahead and stopped to take pictures of the volcanoes in the background. Julio talked to us about the three volcanoes which tower above Arequipa. The Misti Volcano, Pichu Pichu and Chachani. Misti last erupted in the 1980’s.
Julio explained where we were going next and off we went. Scott and I proceeded to ride near terraced farmland on quiet cobblestone roads. It was a beautiful, scenic area and it was interesting to see the different crops which were growing. I struggled up and down the cobblestone roads. It was a challenge to go downhill fast, because my teeth felt like they were chattering out, and it was struggle to go uphill because I wasn’t use to the higher elevation.
Julio would usually drive up ahead, taking pictures of us as we were riding through the countryside.
For some reason, I had thought it would be a flat ride, and so was unprepared mentally for the hills. I struggled with the elevation 7,600 ft/2328 m. I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath on the hills.
Since I had issues shifting gears on my bike, I ended up walking uphill most of the time.
Scott, on the other hand, had a great time and was comfortable on his bike. He was able to enjoy the scenery and the experience.
Eventually, we came to the last long climb. The road was dirt and I was struggling, so I had Julio put my bike back on the rack and rode in the truck with him. It was better for Scott, he was able to ride up the hill and then down through the city without worrying about me.
Next, Julio drove us to a suburb of Arequipa, called the Yanahuara District. We visited the Yanahuara Church and Julio explained the significance of the statues and symbols on the front of the church. The church is a very popular location for the locals to get married. If the church is booked, brides will still take pictures outside of the church in their wedding attire.
Just across the street, we saw a small park and many people relaxing by a fountain. The Mayor’s home was just on the other side of the park.
The highlight for us was seeing the El Mirador, which was located at the other end of the street. It was a row of arches connected together, framing a view of the city, as well as a view of the volcanoes. Like most of Arequipa, the structure was made of the white sillar stone, which is unique to the area. Julio translated and explained the meaning behind the wording on the arches. It was wonderful to have a guide who spoke such good English, so we could really understand and learn more about the area and its significance.
Cycling Arequipa, Peru
Overall, I didn’t enjoy the bike ride and was pretty miserable. Fortunately, Scott had a great time on the ride. We both really loved the cultural part of the tour. We recommend this tour if you are looking for a break from the colonial section of Arequipa and don’t want to travel several hours out of town for a tour.
Julio was very knowledgeable about the history of Arequipa and we enjoyed speaking with him!
To read more about our experiences in Peru, please click here.