Lima, Peru

We made it from Toronto to Lima in just under 27 hours.  A little frazzled and slightly uncomfortable we were glad we had made the decision to have the hostel’s taxi service come and pick us up.

The taxi from Lima’s Jorge Chavez airport to our hostel in the centre of Lima was prearranged through Hotel Iquique and cost CAD$17.  A taxi from the airport to downtown Lima should cost around $15-17 (be ready to haggle) and will take about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

View from Hotel Iquique's rooftop terrace
View from the rooftop terrace of Hotel Iquique
Hotel Iquique (3 nights, double room, 67PEN/$24) was friendly enough, but the room  seemed slightly damp and the bed was quite uncomfortable.  However, we soon realised that pillows which could double as a writing desk seemed to be the norm throughout Peru.  The hot showers were touch and go too.  A nice bonus was the covered rooftop terrace which gave us “a view” of the city.

After a good nights sleep we headed out on a preplanned walking tour of downtown Lima.  Lima is a dirty, grimy town.  The traffic seems out of control while little combis or micros packed with people zip around and crash into each other. There is incessant honking and no end of dirty food stalls at the side of visibly polluted main roads.

Crossing the Pan-american Norte towards the Rio Rimac
We crossed the Pan-America Norte and walked toward the Rio Rimac

We decided to cross the highway and then the Rio Rimac (via a crumbling bridge) into the Rimac area of Lima.  This is where the slums are located and tourists rarely go.  It didn’t feel overly dangerous.  A taxi driver offered to take us up to the slums and give us a tour. We politely declined.

Colourful Rimac slums
Cerro San Cristobal houses the colourful slums and shantytowns in Lima
Police protect the Plaza de San Martin, Lima.
Police in full gear protect the main square

When we reached the main square (Plaza de Armas) it was heavily policed and in the process of being cordoned off.  According to one local, the President was making a speech that afternoon and the police were expecting many protesters.

Luckily for us it was a peaceful protest, and we got to enjoy a relatively empty and traffic free view of Plaza de Armas!

Lima's Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas in Lima

Lima is not a very walkable city.  Taxis and micros are the easiest and cheapest method of transport.  While at first micros seem impossible to understand, it just takes one ride to become an expert.  Micros tend to run a pretty direct route up and down the same street, and major street destinations are marked on the side of the van.  Micro and combi drivers are extremely aggressive and were clearly racing each other to pick up passengers.  The men/women that take the fare yell out destinations in incomprehensible Spanish.  For those with no Spanish the best thing to do is yell your destination back at them and they will tell you whether to get in or not.  A combi/micro from downtown Lima to Miraflores will cost you 1.20PEN or about 45 cents.

Adobe and clay pyramid Lima
View from the top of Huaca Pucllana, Lima.

We took a taxi for 12PEN (about CAD$4) to Huaca Pucllana (adults 10PEN/ $3.50), a Quechuan adobe pyramid, which was a nice introduction to Peruvian history.  We had a very knowledgeable English speaking guide.

We then walked to Miraflores to get our first glimpse of the Pacific ocean; we weren’t disappointed.  Parque del Amor is a must see.  Not only does it have an amazing view of the beach, but a grotesquely beautiful sculpture to boot.

Miraflores, Lima
Parque del Amor, Miraflores.

Miraflores is nothing like the rest of Lima.  It is clean, tourist friendly, and easy to walk.  It seems to have a dream-like quality about it; or is that just the smog?

Miraflores beach in Lima, Peru
Miraflores beach

Lima doesn’t have a central bus station (as is common procedure in most Peruvian cities).  Our next stop is Pisco.  PeruBus services Pisco (30PEN/$11) from the terminal on Avenida Mexico.

Three nights in Lima grand total (this includes accommodation, transportation, food, etc.):   169PEN/CA$61.

We manage to complete the first leg of our journey $4 under budget!