Upon our arrival to Arequipa, we settled into one of the “famous” hostels recommended by our guide, desperate for some sleep after the 500km journey from the desert. We slept for a few hours, and when our senses awoke, we immediately decided we would not spend another night at that hostel.

As part of our exploration of the colonial downtown area, we rang some bells and checked out the hostels around the Plaza de Armas, which was one of the most beautiful central squares we’ve seen. Surrounded by chalky white stone building fashioned in colonial style and cultivated with picturesque patches of emerald green lawn around a central statue. When we paused to enjoy the cultured view, we got yelled at by some random guy (it was unclear whether he was some sort of police or just a grumpy old man) for sitting on the grass.

After out “lawn trespassing” incident, we stumbled upon Mango, a new hostel only 1/2 a block from the central square. It was the perfect fit for us. Their spacious kitchen and privates with ensuite bathrooms were spotless, and the sunny patio was a pleasant office for our work days.

The downtown area of Arequipa, known for its architectural beauty, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. On the city outskirts rises and an incredible slew of volcanoes: Misti at 5,822m, the extinct Pikchu Pikchu at 5,664m and Chachani 6,057, giving Arequipa one of the most beautiful city landscapes we’ve seen so far.

We’re fans of city tours; it’s a nice, informative way of seeing a city and a good walk to boot. So, on our second day, we checked out the Arequipa free walking tour. We spent a full afternoon visiting sights and learned some of the city’s ins and outs from a very knowledgeable guide.

We visited an alpaca market where they showed us how the alpaca sweaters and jackets are made, the difference between llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas, and even got to pet the creatures up close and personal. The tour ended with the traditional closing of any free walking tour–in a bar for a free mini cocktail. This time, we tasted the local “Pisco sour”, a combination of Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and Angostura bitters.

After the first two days, we needed to catch up on some work. We fell into a nice routine of working in the morning and exploring the city in the afternoon. One of the great things about spending more than two or three days in a city is that you have the opportunity discover it apart from the “gringo trail.” With a couple of friends, we hiked up to a mirador where we watched the sunset over the city with the mighty Misti in the background. On our other afternoon breaks, we visited markets, tried the local cuisine and some of the locals favorites, including a delicious Indian restaurant on our last day.