Lima – Cusco

When: May 20 – 27th 2014
Where: Lima, Paracas, Huccachina, Arequipa, Chivay and Cusco
People I met: Jenny (Canada), Jimmy & Jacob (Australia), Tom (Ireland), Steve (USA), Amanda (Canada), Gav (UK), Farah & Farisha (Trinidad) Zara & Will (England)

So I left Cali and after a bit of questioning in immigration I was flying out of Colombia and onto my 30th Country peru! Iarrived in Lima only to be greeted by Haylee and Josh! It was a great point in the trip to be meeting people from home. We jumped in a cab to main square in Miraflores and found ourselves a hostel, The Flying Dog. Once we had gotten settled we set out on a walk, I was dying to see the ocean so we walked to the beach front and admired the view, even if it was cloudy and cold it was still beautiful. Lima is a very well developed city and it seemed to have a lot of 5 star hotels and restaurants….very different from central America. We stopped in at a little restaurant on the way back to grab dinner and then we strolled through JFK Park which was so well presented, a big church next to, a piano in the middle for anyone to play at anytime, well groomed cats everywhere, mini markets and a bunch of food carts. We tried some arroz con leche, essentially a rice pudding, so tasty! Before heading back to the hostel we grabbed some groceries and a box of wine. After some wine and a catch up chat we hit the hay. The next day we booked the next part of our adventure, Peru Hop (more to come on that!) and then went out to grab lunch. Peru is quite famous for there menu del dias, which cost you about $3 and you get a 3 course meal! Awesome. Lunch was great, except everything came with papas fritas (french fries), and massive so we were all full afterwards. Looked around some handicraft markets and then headed to the chocolate museum. This place was awesome, we got free samples of chocolate, syrups, cocoa teas, spreads and more! We stayed afterwards for hot chocolates and fondues. For dinner I introduced Josh and Haylee to plantains…oh yeah! Haylee and I grabbed a pisco sour and chatted overlooking the busy square until bed time. Pisco is the national drink of peru, I love it!

PERU HOP is a hop on hop off bus which runs from Lima – Cusco and stops at a bunch of places in between. I highly recommend it, it was super cheap, flexible and organised everything for you! The bus is full of other young tourists and you have an awesome guide on the bus to tell you about each place. Our first stop on the bus was the Ballestas islands (poor mans Galapagos). We did a 2 hour boat tor around the island and got to see penguins, sea lions and a shit tonne of birds! Afterwards we drove to Paracas national park which is essentially 200,000 hectares of protected desert, where the desert met the ocean was incredible.

Next stop; Huccachina. Man was this place cool! It is about 5 minutes from one of Perus biggest citys, Ica, but you feel like you are a million miles away. It is a tiny desert oasis consisting of a lake, some shops, some hostels and is surrounded by big sand dunes! After checking into my room with Amanda and Jenny the group met up and began a long walk UP the sanddunes to watch the sunset. Oh my calves have never burned so bad, but we all made it and it was 100% worth it, the view from the top was breathtaking. So we sat up there drinking and chatting until the sun dipped below the horizon. Then the fun began, we ran down this massive dune going faster than our legs could take us, people fell over and afterwards we were all covered in sand. Just haylee, josh and I went out for dinner, then had some drinks in their room and headed to a bar next door, but it was dead so we had a pretty early evening. The next day we all lazed by the pool because it was HOT here in the desert, yay! Then at 4pm it was time for an afternoon of dune buggying and boarding. We set off in the dune buggys ripping up and down the sand dunes until we arrived at a small sand dune where we began the sand boarding. The guys told us not to stand up, so we laid on the sand boards and went down on our stomachs. The dunes then proceeded to get bigger and bigger, the last one was ridiculous and we were all shitting ourselves, but it was a lot of fun! Had another dune buggy ride to end the afternoon, was such a fun time! That night was a Friday night and we had a night club next door, so that only meant one thing…PARTY TIME! We all got drunk and danced until closing time, was a really fun night. The next morning we didn’t have to leave until lunch time so again we just lazed around. Haylee and I went to look at the little market stalls and this lovely man made us both a pendant then gave it to us as a gift!
Headed off to the pisco vineyard in the afternoon where we learnt about how Pisco was made and got to try a bunch of free samples! Then we stopped at the Nazcar lines viewing tour to try and make out the Nazcar lines which are ancient geoglyphs which were created by the Nazcar culture in 400 AD! Pretty cool. We stopped for a dinner of lomo saltado (a common peruvian dish) and then began our overnight bus journey.

We arrived in Arequipa at 5am, it was freezing! We are now a couple of km’s above sea level so people were starting to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Only got to have a quick look around the town but from what I could see it was stunning, cobblestone streets and lots of stone buildings. Reminded me a lot of Antigua, Guatemala. We were picked up at 8am by a tour bus and headed off to Colca Canyon. It took a few hours for us to get to the town of Chivay, where we would first stop. On arrival we had a buffet lunch where I tried Alpaca! It was delicious. Afterwards we were shown to our hostel where we had a few hours of free time before heading to the hot springs. The hot springs were set in the mountains above a rushing river, the water temperature was amazing and we never wanted to get out! For dinner the group went to a little restaurant then some of us went to an irish pub to play pool. The next morning we were up at some ungoldy hour to head to Colca valley and canyon. Stopped at some markets on the way, had some coco leave tea to help with any altitude sickness, saw pet llamas and brought a sweet beanie! We stopped a few time along the way to admire the valley and the river below, crazy how high up we are here! We finally arrived at Colca Canyon and at 4160m deep it makes it the third largest canyon in the world. The group and I walked along the canyon edge, I tried not to think about the many Condors which were circling above me. Colca truly was a spectacular place. On the way back to Arequipa we stopped at the areas highest point, 4900m above sea level, ridiculous! there we could see snow topped mountains, volcanoes and heaps of llams/alpacas. Careful though, when seeing a llama in the wild it will spit at you as Jacob quickly learnt! We arrived back in Arequipa at about 5pm, showered, ate had a few drinks and then crashed out.
The next morning we set off at 6am to Cusco! The bus ride took about 11 hours, but we finally made it! Sadly that was the end of Peru Hop so we said goodbye to those that we wouldnt be seeing again and went in our separate directions.

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