Through the detailed travelogue Audre and Dimitri are keeping of their trip to Peru, we experienced their exciting and interesting visit to Arequipa. In this next travelogue, they have invited us to join them on their continued journey through Peru. Accompany Audre and Dimitri as they travel through Nasca, Ica, Paracas and then to Lima. If you missed out on the first part of their trip, click here.
Luckily, a man at the gas station in Camaná pointed out that there was a problem with our Thule bike rack. One of bike holders had lost 2 bolts and was practically falling off. Fortunately one of the bolts was sitting on the roof of the car. The other bolt was lost. Dimitri spent about 2 hours taking the racks apart and putting them back together, using a bolt from the back for the front piece where the one had been lost. (We had used a Thule bike rack in Australia when we toured on paved roads for 26,000 km. We had no problems there. We also used a Thule bike rack for 4 years in Europe. In Chile, Argentina and Perú, we figure the roads have been bumpier and we must check our bolts periodically.)
When we finally got to the Hotel Puerto Inka Resort, we were delighted and relieved. It is a fairly basic set of rooms but the bay is idyllic and remote (at the end of a short, not too bumpy, dirt road). There are ruins where the Inca runners lived when they fished and salted the catch before running up to Cusco with it. We spent a delightful evening looking out at the bay from our veranda (having the wine and cheese that Audre had packed) in candlelight (that was also in our kit) with mosquito coils (also in our kit). Our room cost S/.189.50 (about US$60) and was worth it (although we learned later they have packages with meals that would have been cheaper). Our dinner was very good fish for S/.50 (about US$16 with our own wine).
We spent one night in Puerto Inca and the next day drove to Nasca to see the lines in the sand created by the Nasca and Paracas people between 900 BC and AD 600. What these lines mean and why they were made has spawned numerous theories, particularly since they can only be appreciated from the air. We took an AeroCóndor flight for US$40 (charged in dollars) and took some surprisingly good photos.
It was early enough after our flight to keep driving towards Ica. We stopped at the Ocucaje winery (where most of Perú’s wine comes from). Lonely Planet said “the winery now has an upmarket resort hotel”. It was in an awful state of disrepair so we didn’t stay.
We drove on to the Hotel Las Dunas Sun Resort. It was very full and the prices were high. When we got there at about 6 p.m., we saw standard rooms that were not comfortable and so Dimitri started negotiating with the front desk for the suite. The manager joined in and when he offered us a suite, that had a private courtyard with a Jacuzzi in it, for a price less than we had offered, we took it. The negotiated price for the suite was S/.330 (about US$100), with breakfast and service.
Unfortunately, the Jacuzzi had no hot water and had to be filled with hot water from a garden hose. We decided to go to dinner first and use the Jacuzzi after dinner. Dinner in the main dining room was a buffet for Valentine’s Day and was a circus. We found a smaller room and had 2 waiters for ourselves. (At breakfast the next day, we ate with all of the people and saw some Americans from a former era who looked like they believed in the creation of the Nasca Lines by extra-terrestrials. One of them looked like Colonel Sanders in his totally white suit, long white beard and waist-long white hair.)
Our dinner was okay and blessedly calm. When we returned to our suite, the water had drained out of the Jacuzzi. Oh well, we left the next day for Paracas without a Jacuzzi event.
In Paracas we were going to stay a week for our beach experience. It wasn’t meant to be. The Libertador-affiliated Hotel Paracas Reserva Natural could only accommodate us for one night. The price was exorbitant (S/.609.32 or US$191.07) for their one ocean view room, Room 201 and we weren’t in a position to negotiate.
The hotel is beautifully situated, obviously popular, but is tired-looking. We were going to use the hotel’s kayaks; fortunately did not because the wind came up in the afternoon and it would have been very unpleasant. Instead we took a walk along the shoreline. We met some lovely women from Lima who were renting a house on the beach. They were going to help us find a house to rent for a week but could not. This was, after all, high season. After our walk, we booked the hotel’s outdoor Jacuzzi and had a nice warm soak.
Perú’s tourist site lists Paracas as one of Perú’s main mountain biking areas. It is a sandy, desert area and had we stayed longer we would have taken the recommended route. Probably that ride would have ruined our bikes with sand.
Dinner at the hotel was okay but crowded. The next day, before leaving, we went on a boat tour of the Isla Ballestas (it cost US $80 for the 2 of us). Called the “poor man’s Galapagos,” it was great and we got some good photos.
For lunch we stopped in Pisco on our way to Lima. We couldn’t find El Portal del Pisco which was in Lonely Planet so we went instead to As de Oro’s Restaurante and had a delicious cebiche mixto with fried yucca chips for S/.51.45 our US $16.18.
We arrived in Lima around 4:30 p.m. and started our long-term accommodation search.
Dimitri had read Lonely Planet on Lima and had done a lot of research online to identify accommodations that would be comfortable for us for a month. We like to have a kitchen so we can have a salad for lunch or a light dinner from time to time. It’s also great to have a kitchen so we can buy food to try in the local markets. We also wanted to have a separate bedroom and living room in Lima. Dimitri localized our search to the suburbs of Miraflores and San Isidro.
Audre was doing the driving north to Lima; the divided highway into the city that started about 100 km south astounded us. It was easy but Audre turned over the wheel to Dimitri outside of town, not wanting to deal with the undisciplined Peruvian drivers in the city. The first two apart hotels we looked at weren’t for us but we liked Sol de Oro Suites Apart Hotel. Dimitri negotiated a rate of US$132 per day for the first week and then US $100 thereafter for apartment no. 904. We had a glimpse of the ocean and an otherwise open view, not being close to any other building. The TV was moved from the bedroom to the living room and an extra desk was installed for us. The closet storage was big enough and there was a separate area for all of our empty luggage. The rooms were quite ample and we were happy.
At Sol de Oro our price included breakfast. Typically we like to have Fitness cereal, skim milk and banana for breakfast. Most hotels have corn flakes or a sweetened cereal so we bring a plastic bag filled with our cereal choices and just use their fruit, milk and coffee for breakfast. We added popped quinoa and kiwicha in Perú to our cereal for a little excitement. The coffee at Sol de Oro (and many other places in Perú) is a thick and strong essence to which hot water is added. If the water is hot enough the coffee can be a pleasant temperature. It’s a unique system. Every day Sol de Oro had delicious freshly made juices and sliced fruit. We started enjoying Peruvian mangos! Our favorite is the Edwar variety.