This is part 3 of a 3 parts series on my travels to Peru. If you haven’t already read parts 1 and 2! Part 1 is on the journey to Aquas Caliente and the bumps along the way (there were many) through Cusco. Part 2 is all about Machu Picchu and its awesomeness. I will focus part 3 on my travels from Cusco to Lima.
This commences the Peru Hop portion of the trip. The bus was set to leave from Cusco around 7 pm on Wednesday night. This company is so unique and awesome. It stops at different cities in Peru and is like one of those hop on and hop off city buses. You can get off in any place and get back on any other day for up to a year. Our last few days in Peru was going to take us all the way from Cusco to Huacachina to Lima. We were supposed to stop in Paracas but ended up skipping it (more on that later).
Let me start you out with a little intro video to Huacachina!
Busing from High Altitude to the Desert
The bus from Cusco to Huacachina turned out to be super long. It was almost 24 hours with some stops for food. If I had really looked into it I don’t think I would have booked it, but the people on the bus made it well worth it. The bus ride was not that bad. The overnight portion to Arequipa was a bit rough and I’m not sure how much I slept. The next day was alright though since I was mostly just talking to our awesome Peruvian guide Claudia and the other people on the bus. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant right on the beach. I had my first awesome taste of Ceviche, a kind of half raw and half cooked seafood dish. We arrived in Huacachina around 6 pm the next day (Thursday).
Huacachina is a really awesome place. It is an oasis in the middle of the desert. Most people don’t realize that between the Andes and the coast Peru is a desert. It is super dry and gets no rain. The landscape is basically just rocks and sand. On the way to Huacachina we were able to see the Nazca lines in this landscape. They are ancient carvings made by primeval people some of which are huge. I climbed up this short tower and saw the massive frog and tree carved into the ground. The origins are somewhat unknown, but they are a heritage site for a reason. You can take a plane and fly above the lines if you trust Peruvian small airplanes haha.
Huacachina: The Desert Oasis
So, back to Huacachina. It is surrounded by huge sand dunes, a true desert you would never expect to find in Peru. It is also a huge party town with a bunch of different discotecas. They had a great deal on a bbq of chicken, burgers, and hot dogs with a bunch of veggies. We got an hour of open bar with this as well. This opened up the night in Huacachina which turned out to be sort of dead (maybe because it was a Thursday). Regardless it was fun hanging with everyone we met on the bus. People were from everywhere around the world and it was awesome to hear their perspective on different things.
That night we made the decision to skip Paracas to go to a concert in Lima on the beach. There was a guy from Israel who was going and it didn’t take much to convince everyone else to go. However, we still had the full day in Huacachina on Friday. We went on a Pisco tour in the afternoon which was somewhat interesting. They showed how they made Pisco and we got to taste a bunch of different kinds.
Planking (gotta keep that fitness going) and sand dunes
Riding up Sand Dunes and Boarding Back Down
The dune buggy and sandboarding tour was next. This ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. We took a sand buggy up and down massive dunes at speeds up to 50 mph. The buggy held 9 people so we had the whole crew in there. It was like riding a rollercoaster as we went up down and around the dunes. It was so much fun. After riding around the dunes a bit, we got the chance to sandboard a bit. This involves strapping on a board and riding down the dunes. I stood up on a couple of the smaller dunes and took the large ones on my belly. Some of the dunes were HUGE and we spent a solid 2 minutes heading down them.
The tour ended with a nice view of the sun setting over the dunes. The views in general were out of this world. Looking out it was dune after dune with the oasis in the background. It was really beautiful. We had a short time to shower before getting back on the bus to Lima.
Lima: Concerts on the Beach and Living the Party Life
The bus was really fun as we all got ready for the concert. We got to Lima around 11 pm and headed straight to the concert. It was an awesome experience. I almost felt like a local as I danced the night away with my new friends. There was so many people there! I think we finally left around 5:00 am. The taxi back was a little rough since we went to the wrong place and had to end up dropping 60 soles. Anyway the night turned out to be pretty epic.
Lima beach concert and new friends (could you get better???)
Unfortunately there was construction on the place next to the hostel so we were awakened nice and early. Anyway we went to the mall in Lima that overlooks the water. The place is really nice and set into the side of the cliff. It has really nice views across the ocean. I had quinoa chifa which was basically quinoa, veggies, and an egg. It’s basically the Chinese food of Peru. It’s way better than American Chinese food since it’s a mix between Peruvian food and Chinese food.
Living the Lush Life in Lima
I decided that our last night in Peru would be super classy, so I used some Hilton points to reserve the 5 star Hilton Miraflores. We’re talking infinity pool, hot tub, huge room, and amazing shower. It took some convincing for me to randomly use points but it was well worth it. We took our friend Justin along for the ride. We spent the rest of the day into the night hanging with our Australian friends in the hot tub. It was a semi cold night, but the hot tub was awesome. Super relaxing with great night views over the city. Hot tub transitioned to double headed shower which was quite a change from the hostel life. The night capped off with an amazing veggie burger which was all quinoa and broccoli. A food coma hit after dinner, so we passed out watching movies in our lush room.
The Food and Diversity in Lima
It was Sunday and our last night in Lima. We decided on our last day we would do our own food tour. Before the food I got a nice run in along the beach and the shore. Running is an awesome way to explore a city and it felt great to get out there. We had our last hooray in the hotel with the infinity pool and shower. Then we commenced the food tour. First stop was a massive plate of ceviche. The ceviche was a mix between shellfish, fish, and shrimp. Some of the best ceviche I had and all for $4 a person. Some specialty churros were next. They just weren’t just run of the mil churros either. They all had a caramel filling. Amazzzzzzinggg. Vegan food was next with our awesome Aussie girlfriends. I had some sort of wrap with rice, veggies, and seaweed along with a cacao juice.
I was splitting everything with Justin so I could make it through the day in one piece. We headed to the market next and I had one of the best meals of the trip. It took so long, but I had some amazing arroz con mariscos. It seems like a simple dish of seafood and rice but it was super rich and perfect. I was also probably the only white person there. This place is the true secret of Lima. It is called Cevicheria and is located in Surquillo market. If you can find it, it will blow your mind.
The Food Tour Continues and Gets More Exotic
We hit Kennedy Park next which is a random park with a bunch of stray cats. We hung out with the cats for a bit and fed them. The sun was setting so we hit the coast and had some cusqueñas to the setting sun. The scene could not be more perfect to enjoy with our new friends.
Anticuchos were next on the docket. If you don’t know they are beef hearts and damn they are good. I was really surprised at how good they actually were. The restaurant we went to was really a hole in the wall (my favorite kind of place) filled with older Peruvians. I knew right when I walked in it was going to be good. We closed out the night with some sandwiches from La Lucha. The sandwiches and juices were remarkable. I had the lomo saltdo and guanabana juice. I never thought a sandwich could be that good. It was an amazing way to end the night.
Peru: A Place Full of Culture, Food, and Grit
Unfortunately next stop was the airport. The trip had flown by and I really wished I had more time. I feel like I only really saw the surface of an amazing culture. However, I made the best of the time I had. The food, people, and scenery were out of this world. It was amazing to get back into the grittiness of South America. I had the best time and met an amazing amount of people in such a short time. It was a bit of a crazy ride, but one that was well worth it. I NEED to go back and spend much more time in South America. It is such a unique place and Peru is no exception. Let me know what your impressions of South America are especially Peru.
My trip was a lot of fun, but I still managed to train. Let me know if I can bring some adventure and diversity to your training.