We landed after a long flight from New Zealand via Chile and were thankful to see a Peruvian waiting for us in arrivals with Sam's name on a sign.
After the usual battle of trying to fit Sam's surfboard bag in the car we set off for Miraflores, Lima. The taxi driver must have been in a hurry as he drove alarmingly fast, bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic and constantly beeping his horn. There doesn't seem to be any traffic rules here...
We decided to stay in Miraflores as it's meant to be quite upmarket and relatively safe compared to other areas in Lima. It was quite late when we arrived at Casita Miraflores so we headed straight to bed.
The following morning we woke up reasonably early to have our included breakfast. Unfortunately, it was nothing like what we got used to in Australia and New Zealand and we had to settle for jam on white bread, a glass of juice and a coffee.
Running only on sugar and caffeine, we then went for a stroll to the seafront and found ourselves in Parque Del Amor (Love Park).
The park is right on the seafront and contains beautiful mosaic benches that curve through like a snake.
Following our less than satisfying breakfast we headed for an early lunch to La Verde which is a vegan place I found using the HappyCow app. If you're vegan or veggie I definitely recommend this app when you're travelling/on your holidays.
Sam is partial to pulpo (octopus) so that evening we headed to Costazul Seafood where they are famous for their octopus and ceviche. The food was delicious as were their Pisco Sours...I just about remember leaving the restaurant.
When we got back to our hotel we sat with Rodrigo (a 16 year old chap that works there) and another guest drinking more and trying to learn Spanish.
The following morning, with a terrible hangover, we got a bus down to Paracus. I was initially quite nervous about getting a bus as I have read they are frequently hijacked. There are horror stories about buses being stopped, armed gangs boarding, assaulting women and stealing everyone's belongings. The Cruz Del Sur buses have rigorous security checks but even they have had issues in the past.
Thankfully, after 3.5 hours we arrived in Paracas safely and headed to our hostel. When we walked through the front door we were surprised to see a party in full swing in the reception/communal area. It looked as though the owners and their family were a few bottles of Pisco down already as they gyrated around to booming music.
Our room was basic and the walls were so thin that I could hear someone in the room next door snoring. Add that to Sam's snoring and people going to the toilet during the night and you have yourself a crappy sleep.
The communal areas of the hostel were cool and seemed to have a yoga theme.
I'd love to have something like this on the wall in my yoga studio back at home. If anyone knows any Cornwall based artists let me know!
The main strip in Paracas runs along the seafront and is full of restaurants and market stalls selling souvenirs. The beach is small and gets super busy and the water didn’t look very appealing for swimming in.
One morning we got up early and went for a walk out of the main tourist area. We were joined by two friendly dogs who came along for the adventure.
Our main reason for heading to Paracas was to meet up with my mum's friends Loraine and Mark who were spending 5 weeks travelling around Peru. We met up with them for dinner on a couple of occasions and it was really nice to see friendly faces from back home. Also they showed us the cheapest little local spot for food where you could get a huge feed for 8 Sol (£1.77)!
While in Paracas we decided to go on the boat tour around the Ballestas Islands which are nicknamed the poor man's Galapagos. On the tour we saw lots of birds and sea lions.
Later in the afternoon we went on the tour of the national park, which should have come with a boredom warning... don’t get me wrong the scenery was cool but our tour felt like it was targeted for the older generation.
After 3 nights in Paracas, we headed to Haucachino in a small tourist bus that we arranged through our hostel. We bobbed and weaved through various towns and I was shocked to see how much plastic is dumped on the side of the dusty roads and in the hills. If you had any doubts about how bad the plastic problem is in the world coming somewhere like this is a wake up call that's for sure.
We pulled up outside our hostel "Upcycled" and I knew instantly I was going to love it. There was a bar, pool and lots of miss matched upcycled furniture. They played awsome music all through the day and evening which gave the place a really chilled vibe. Our room was all concrete inside and the key said "Matrimonial suite" ;)
We only actually ventured down into Haucachino once and that was enough. It was super busy, expensive and didn't really look like the photos we had seen online. You can take sandbuggy tours and go sandboarding down the huge dunes that surround the lagoon but we decided against it. When you're travelling for this length of time you have to pick and choose your activities wisely.
Instead we decided to tackle one of the huge dunes by foot. It was a hard, steep climb to the top but it was worth it for the views.
On one side there was the tourist hotspot, Haucachino, and on the other side the tiny shacks that the local people call home. Very contrasting.
After sitting for a while and reflecting, our inner children came out and we ran down the side of the dune at full speed... Sam had no problems but my legs couldn't keep up with the rest of me and I took a tumble. I think I actually flipped over as my legs were facing the wrong way... I wasn't injured and nearly wet myself laughing. I was covered head to toe in sand.
We stayed in the Upcycled Hostel for a few nights and mainly spent that time chilling and catching up with reading/writing. The food and cocktails are both really good and reasonably priced. Sam particularly enjoyed the giant inflatable pizza!
Peru has been fun so far...however I'm not sure I'd be in a hurry to go back to any of the places we've seen so far.
Part 2 coming soon...