Hola a todos,
I recently took a 3 week trip to Peru and i have to say it was one of the best and most enjoyable experiences i've ever had and it well and truly exceeded my own expectations and i would go as far to say it was better than my recent trips to Barcelona and Madrid put together.
I am now going to share my experiences with everyone and I really believe that after reading this report, anyone travelling to Peru without much prior knowledge will benefit as I learnt so much along the way and I will be much better prepared next time I return to the country.
To begin with i left Madrid Airport around 12.30pm on Monday November 20 and flew to Jorge Chavez International in Peru which took a little over 12 hours and despite being on a plane for this long I would say it was a pretty comfy flight overall.
The airport in Lima is very small in comparison to most international airports within Europe and therefore you wont have any trouble reclaiming your baggage, although one thing to be aware of is that you will be asked to fill out an immigration form (if you are from a country outside of South America) which is fine although just be sure to keep the small section of document which is given back to you as you will need it upon check in to hotels as proof of legal entry into the country which I didn’t know until later on in the trip as nobody bothered to tell me its importance.
The first thing to be aware of once you collect your luggage is that when leaving the airport you will be surrounded by eager taxi drivers virtually begging you to use their services so be sure to get a taxi for a fair price and my advice is seek different prices from as many as possible. If you are going to Miraflores or San Isidro then i would say a fair price is between 20 and 25 soles and as my girlfriend is from Lima she told me that taxi drivers and street sellers target International visitors and usually charge them much more than the going rate. Another thing to be aware of is that nobody seems to have any change whether it be taxi drivers, entry points to museums or other popular tourist attrations so try and take some lower value notes such as 10s and 20s and get some change as soon as you possibly can because you will definitely need it.
After meeting up with my girlfriend at the airport, we arrived to our hotel, San Antonio Abad in Miraflores, which i cant speak highly enough of as our room was clean, the views were quite nice and the staff were extremely helpful and on top of that the buffet breakfast which had a nice selection of fruits, salad and juices was delicious.
Miraflores itself is a wonderful place to stay and has a very relaxed atmosphere and the people within show a lot of warmth and kindness which considering the poverty level speaks volumes about the country as a whole. The same can be said for neighbouring San Isidro which is a district with a wealth of posh hotels and attractive shops and restaurants and a must see for anyone staying in Lima or Miraflores.
The biggest surprise of all for me was the Peruvain food because im a bit of a fussy eater but i said before i went that i wanted to try as much local food as possible and im delighted i did as the food out there has so much flavour, is extremely healthy, and will keep you coming back for more!! I would say the average price of a meal is between 15 to 20 soles per person which is around 7 dollars and a real bargain for the service provided. The food I would recommend not missing out on are Anticuchos, Chicharrones, Cuy Chacdado, Papa a La Huancaina, and Carne a La Parrilla which didn’t mean a thing to me before my trip but now I will never forget them!
As we were only in Lima from Monday 20 November until Friday 24 November i tried to see as many sites as possible and was impressed with Miraflores, San Isidro and also the Main Square and surrounding areas in Lima as this is the heart of the country and home to some amazing shops and textile markets with a lot of bargains to be had!
If you have a few hours free when in Lima I would recommend a visit to Museo Nacional de Arqueologia which is located very close to the main square and for 11 soles its certainly money well spent as there is a lot of ancient sculptures and interesting exhibits to keep you entertained.
One other thing to be aware of especially for people travelling alone is that behind the main square and some other remote areas in Lima there are groups of people that may either follow you or try and create a diversion in an attempt to steal something from you so make sure at all times your cameras and valuables are safely put away and not displayed at any times just to be on the safe side, although from my own experience I always felt safe and happy to walk around Lima but my girlfriend made me aware of what can happen if you don’t take precautions. The two other cities we travelled to Arequipa and Cusco were a lot safer generally although I think tourists should always be wary when taking pictures and using money.
Along the sensational coastline in Miraflores there is a shopping district located on the edge of the cliffs known as Larcomar and i must say i loved it here as it wasnt like anything I had seen before as you can walk about and in a relaxed, quiet atmosphere to enjoy some of the unique shops displaying handycrafts and other fascinating items as well as the usual cafes and restaurants that you would expect in a major city so i would say its a must see for any visitor to Lima.
Based on my experience the only downside of Lima is the prices of taxis because although there are so many of them, just the fact its a capital city trebles the price in comparison to Arequipa and Cusco as they charge at least five soles for even the shortest journey of around 5 minutes so if and when possible I would recommend walking if it’s a safe and short enough distance or perhaps try other means of public transport on longer journeys, but that said the positives here far outweigh the negatives.
Our second stop was south of Lima in the city of Arequipa and looking back i made a big mistake regarding the booking of the tickets because im convinced if I had booked online the tickets would have been cheaper but we travelled with a well known airline and it was at a cost of 74 dollars each, and as we went through to the check in we also had to pay another 14 dollars each for tax which is something I’ve never experienced because when travelling within Europe, tax is always accounted for within the ticket price but nevertheless the journey was only an hour, the service was good as food and drinks were provided, and the seats were very comfortable.
We came from a lovely warm Lima climate to an even warmer one in Arequipa and the difference from Lima couldn’t have been wider as you have views of volcanoes, mountains and other fantastic landscapes which just have to be seen to be believed.
We arrived to our Casa Arequipa hotel to be greeted by friendly staff who looked after us and provided information to help us explore the city. I would say the viewpoints of Yanahuara, el Parque Alegre and Cayma villiage were the best places to visit for views across the city as well as getting close up views of el misti volcano. We also paid a visit to Santa Catalina Convent which was great value for money as it was far bigger than either of us imagined and took us a fair few hours to walk around.
As we were in Arequipa for a week from Friday November 24 until Friday December 1, we decided it would be a good idea to visit Colca Canyon leaving by bus on Wednesday 29 and returning late on Thurday 30 and if you need any advice there is tourist information office located in the Plaza de Armas (main square) so we took a taxi of 3 soles to the Arequipa Bus Terminal and booked our tickets (there is a choice of three different companies) for just 15 soles each plus the tax which is one sol per person.
We arrived at the bus terminal for 5.45am the next day and left Arequipa at 6 and I have to say the bus trip was good and bad because you really do see some wonderful sites along the way and im sure you will use your camera a fair bit but for the majority of the six hour journey the bus goes over a lot of hard terrain and therefore there isn’t much chance of getting any sleep if your tired but that said its not something that would put me off going back again in future. Another thing to bear in mind is you will need to pay for an entry ticket to Colca Canyon either on the bus or when you arrive to the site which was 35 soles per person.
The bus will stop after six hours in a small town called Cabanaconde which is really fascinating and it’s like no other place I’ve ever seen because it’s surrounded by fantastic mountains and some of the trails and hikes will be remembered for a lifetime. When we arrived here the first priority for us was finding a hostel which was quite easy as there are a number of them around the main square and was only 10 soles each, we then booked our return tickets for 15 soles each and went and had food before exploring, and we got so involved with the exploration here that we decided we didn’t even have the time to continue to Colca Canyon so its worth spending an extra day or two if you have time to gain an experience of everything.