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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Peru 9.9.-7.10.23

We cross Peru more or less along the west coast. That means we avoid the tourist hotspots Machu Picchu, Cusco and Lake Titicaca. This is because we have already visited these impressive places 11 years ago and because there are always roadblocks in this area.

Right after the border there are some simple beach resorts on the Peruvian west coast. We spend one night near Punta Sal in a recommendable, well maintained bungalow hotel and enjoy the afternoon hours on the beach.

After a long, unexciting drive through a semi-desert with sand and bare mountains, we arrive in Chiclayo.

Monday would be the visit the Tumbas Reales Museum and the Valley of the Pyramids of Tucume. Unfortunately, both sites are closed on this day. So we only have time to visit the museum Tumbas Reales where the burial treasures of the Señor of Sipán from the Mochu Dynasty are exhibited. We are very impressed by the artful beautiful artifacts.

The museum building is modeled after the floors of the tomb, and the building itself is a pleasant change from the otherwise drab locales.

We continue to Trujillo, again through desert terrain and occasionally through rice and corn fields in the river valleys with groundwater, which are dry at this time of year.

Shortly before Trujillo we make a detour to the fishing village of Huanchaco where we photograph the typical rush boats.

In the morning we visit the huge city of Chan Chan, built of mud bricks. Our guide used to participate in the excavations himself and can tell us a lot about this work and the culture. At the end he plays us a song on his self-carved flute.

In the afternoon we drive to the Moon Pyramid and enjoy the murals and are impressed by the size of the 5-story temple. The opposite Sun Pyramid cannot be visited at the moment.

We have another very long drive to Huaraz (290km, 6.5 hours). Our navi leads us away from the Panamericana onto a side road, which is mostly newly asphalted. It leads along the river through a beautiful valley with fertile fields.

At the end of the road we come to a small bridge to get on the main connection to Huaraz. The bridge has also seen better days, nevertheless, we drive on it, because some vehicles have already come towards us. Shortly before the middle of the bridge the tree trunks crash away and we hang right with both wheels in the air. It helps only a crane, which frees us from er awkward situation. Fortunately, a family helps us to organize this from the city 3 hours away.

After 5 hours, the journey can continue through an impressive valley on a single-lane gravel road with many potholes, tunnels and switchbacks.

Actually, we never wanted to drive in the dark, but this time we make an exception, because one of the helpers assured us that the road will be much better later then. We finally arrive at our hotel at 20:30, the kitchen is closed and we only get a sandwich.

From the hotel we have a beautiful view of the high mountain range Cordillera Blanca with many 6'000m peaks and the highest mountain of Peru, the Huascaran with 6768m.

An excursion takes us to the 4'000m high Huascaran National Park where we visit the turquoise lagoons of Llanganuco.

On the way, we repeatedly encounter the traditionally dressed women with multi-layered skirts and high brimmed hats.

We leave the high mountains over a beautiful pass and drive to the coast to Lima.

In the district of Miraflores we move into an apartment for 2 weeks and enjoy the tranquility and especially the famous Peruvian cuisine. In Lima there are 4 restaurants, which are listed among the best 50 in the world. We decide for the Mayta and let ourselves be spoiled with an 11 course, each course a work of art, including wine accompaniment.

Of course, a walk to the impressive cliffs of Lima should not be missed.

We're already on our way to Paracas, a sleepy fishing village on the west coast with a hip pizza restaurant.

We book an excursion by speedboat along the Paracas Peninsula and to the Islas Balestas. On the way towards the limestone islands we marvel at a good 2000 year old geoglyph in the sand rock and encounter some dolphins. The Islas Balestas have impressive shapes and many continuous caves. One feels almost like in Galapagos with the seals, Humboldt penguins and Peru boobies.

Afterwards, we drive to the desert-like Paracas Peninsula to some viewpoints of a spectacular coastline with many shades of colores.

Early in the morning we drive to Ica to be ready in time for the Pisco and wine tour. First we visit one of the oldest wineries in the area, the Bodega 'Vista Alegre'. We will have the production of the pisco explained to us with the eight approved grape varieties, explore the vineyards and the winery. Finally, there is a wine and pisco tasting. The second very touristy bodega 'Nietto' emphasizes the tasting of sweet wines and creamy fruit piscos. The products are quite good in taste, but one does well not to drink too much of them.

Towards evening we drive to the oasis Huacachina which lies in the middle of impressive dunes. With buggies one can be driven around on the dunes. But we decide to take a walk up to the heights to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

A drive of just under three hours brings us to Nazca. For the next morning, a half-hour flight over the Nazca lines is booked. We have imagined the geoglyphs larger, they are very filigree, but amazingly clearly drawn. In addition, the view of the landscape is also absolutely worth seeing.

Via Atico we drive to Arequipa. The coast is very wild and the roads are partly covered with sand and are shoveled free with excavators. We meet, as almost everywhere, also again and again on fallen stones.

Shortly before Arequipa we find ourselves in a colorful, impressive landscape.

Arequipa itself is a very pretty colonial town with the large cathedral at the Plaza de Armas. Our dinner at the recommended 'Kao Thai and Peruvian Cuisine' fusion restaurant is also a delight.

A long drive brings us to the small town of Tacna, which is just before the border with Chile, where we prepare the paperwork to cross the border.

Conclusion: the west coast is more or less a big semi-desert, partly with an interesting landscape, but often rather monotonous. The Panamericana is very well developed but almost all other roads in Peru are partly in a precarious condition.

Now it goes on to Chile and Argentina where we will cross the Andes again and again.

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