By Corey Sandler
Matarani is the place we parked, but it was not the destination for most of the guests aboard ship. From the gritty mining and export piers here, a fleet of buses departed in the morning for the two-hour-plus drive up into the altiplano to Arequipa.
Matarani, home to about one million, is the deep south of Peru, a thin strip of desert with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the spine of the Andes to the east. In Peru, only Lima is larger–much larger–with nearly nine million inhabitants. We’ll visit that coastal port in a few days.
We’ve been to Arequipa a few times, and so we’re declaring a vacation day aboard ship. We have been on the move almost continuously since March.
Arequipa, about 75 miles or 121 kilometers from Matarani, is up in the foothills of the Andes, at altitude 2,350 meters or 7,710 feet.
The trip follows a two-lane highway thick with trucks and buses and thin with asphalt and guardrails.
It’s a dramatic setting, and also about as close as many cruise passengers are likely to get to landlocked Bolivia.
And it’s not Mount Fuji in Japan, either, but it probably could pass for it in a movie background. Looming over the city is the El Misti Volcano, rising to 19,098 feet or 5,821 meters above sea level.
It is a stratovolcano, the type that is somewhat like a pressure cooker. It lets off a bit of steam every once in a while but mostly sits around in seeming quietude until it explodes violently.
And yes, it is still active, it last major eruption in 1985.
Here are some notes and photos from a previous visit.
ON THE ROAD
AREQUIPA: LA CIUDAD BLANCA
All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.
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