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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.

Written by Audre & Dimitri Travelogue in Lima, Perú - Part  II
Breakfast at Puerto Inca

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. Travelogue in Lima, Perú - Part  II
The Nasca Lines figure called the hummingbird. No one knows why people between 900 BC and AD 600 would take the trouble to make figures in the sand that could only be seen from the air.

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. Travelogue in Lima, Perú - Part  II
The noise of the beach on Islas Ballestas from the sea lions was deafening and the smell was overwhelming.

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. Travelogue in Lima, Perú - Part  II
The actual, real-live bikepath along the palisades park in Miraflores, a suburb of Lima.

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.

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Written by Audre & Dimitri

00Cumbe Mayo
Cumbe Mayo

Before deciding to drive into Perú from Chile we had asked lots and lots of people about the conditions of the roads and personal safety. The American Association of Chile members were very helpful. Generally we got the impression that the roads were pretty good and we (as well as all our personal stuff) would be safe, if we were careful. So we crossed the northern border of Chile into Perú at Arica.

Crossing the border at 11 a.m. with all of the buses full of people was extremely unpleasant. It took us 1.5 hour to clear the Chilean border controls and another hour for the Peruvian ones. It was hot; I sat in the car (to guard our stuff) and Dimitri stood in line. When the time came for the authorities to look at our passports, Dimitri had to speed over to get me from the car for the required one minute at the window. We had been spoiled when we crossed the Chilean/Argentinean border in the late afternoon. It had taken us 15 minutes. Live and learn: no border crossings around mid-day. We have a photo of Dimitri standing in an endless line at the Chilean border control.•

002007 Travelogue in Perú
The actual, real-live bikepath along the palisades park in Miraflores, a suburb of Lima.

With all of the time spent at the border, we didn’t arrive in Arequipa until about 5 p.m. (really 7 p.m. our body time because of the time difference). The ride was uneventful and mostly through mud-colored desert. When the Panamericana (the main north-south highway) was near the ocean, or going over sand hills or in the multi-colored desert area, it was pretty enough. The splotches of green created by natural oases were a welcome relief. Fortunately, the Panamericana didn’t have the potholes in it that we had experienced in Chile and there wasn’t much traffic.

We didn’t have a good map of Arequipa and the one we had in Lonely Planet turned out to be out of date. Audre, the navigator, couldn’t find us on the map and we couldn’t find the Libertador where Dimitri thought would be the best place to stay. Finally, we hired a taxi to guide us there. The cost from one end of town to another was S/.3 (or about 94¢US).

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Written by Joe Lara

Spirits Airlines lacks 'spirit' in Peru Spirit Airlines, the United States based low cost airliner, has officially made its way into the Peruvian aviation market by offering daily non-stop service between Lima, Peru and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  For frequent travelers between these two cities, Spirit’s low cost travel fare provides an attractive alternative to seemingly increasing prices offered by other airlines such as American, Delta, and Chile’s LAN.  Despite very attractive prices, I personally found Spirit’s service to be lacking, err, spirit.

Having previously flown other  low-cost carriers such as the U.S.’s Southwest Airlines, I realistically expected some types of sacrifices in the areas of comfort and service.  Understand that a ‘low cost carrier’ is essentially a ‘no frills airliner’ where traditional services and comforts are eliminated in order to keep ticket prices low.  Everything from the drinks, snacks and baggage (yes baggage!) is not included when you purchase your ticket with Spirit.  There were no television monitors, pillows, or blankets… No problem!  The problem I encountered with my experience had nothing to do with comfort but rather with customer service.

I flew on Spirit’s inaugural flight from Lima’s Jorge Chavez Airport to South Florida’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport on June 27th.  Talking with some of the passengers, I found that quite a few had purchased their tickets for the ridiculously low price of US$0.88!  Unfortunately, I paid quite a bit more than that though my fare was still a great bargain compared to other carriers servicing Lima and Miami.

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Courtesy of


Text by Walter M. Wust, photos by James Poso and Walter M. Wust, Arequipa, Peru
Dawn breaks over Puica. The sun has yet to light up the valley, but the smoking chimneys indicate that the town is waking and preparing for a new day.

(LIP-jl) — Discovered by adventurers just 20 years ago, the Cotahuasi Valley is a blend of a rich pre-Colombian heritage and the tradition of picturesque villages surrounded by a breath-taking landscape. Come with us and discover the wonders of the Cotahuasi Canyon.

The glacial highland wind slaps us in the face as we jump put of our cars. Dawn broke just minutes ago, and the clouds are only just beginning to light up in a range of hues. The frost-covered ichu grass glitters in the sunlight before melting away under the rays of a highland sun that today seems to be more intense than ever.

Before us, still wreathed in early morning mist, stretches a dizzying gouge in the Andes, a gigantic wound slashed into the rough skin of the majestic mountains. From the bottom of the valley drifts bird song, carried by the mist which drifts uphill at surprising speed.

We would have liked to stop a moment longer to gaze upon this dawn spectacle in this solitary waste, but we are pulled away by the burning desire to plunge into the past down the zig-zagging road that leads to Cotahuasi Valley, our final destination.

The narrow valley, located some 375 km northwest of the city of Arequipa, is the result of the rushing waters of the Cotahuasi River between two hulking mountains: Mount Coropuna (at 6,425 masl, Peru’s highest volcano) and Solimana (6,093 meters).

From its origin in the pretty lake of Huanzococha, at more than 4,750 meters, the Cotahuasi is further swelled by the Huayllapaña River, near Pampamarca, to the north, and Huarcaya, near Tomepampa to the west. Its waters growing ever-more turbulent, the river heads west and then south, flowing through the deepest areas of the canyon. Finally, the river merges with the waters of the Marán before flowing into the Pacific Ocean near Ocoña, from where it gets its name for the final stretch.

Lima 0 the way to La Capilla
On the way to La Capilla.

(Provided by Anibal Paredes and Maria Elena Pinto)

Anibal and Maria Elena are two cycling enthusiasts who would love to share their experiences with other cyclists who would like to get to know Peru’s hidden treasures on a bike.  Below, is their summary of recent trip taken to the south of Lima:

My wife and I love cycling, as we call ourselves "cicloturistas" (bicycling tourists).  We normally get out of the city to cycle along rustic roads leading to captivating towns and good old fashioned contact with nature.

Last weekend, on Friday afternoon we went to Mala by bus (90 km south of Lima) and from there we started cycling along the Mala river valley up to Calango (approximately 25 km), a picturesque and peaceful town.

We started our cycling journey at about 5:30 pm so as soon as it became dark, we continued riding with guided by our headlights along a nice unpaved road, passing by a few villages where we stopped for a while.  We rested in San Jose, Tutumo, Aymara, Correviento, among other towns along the way, and to our surprise, vehicle traffic on the road was minimal to non-existent so the night ride was very relaxing under the pleasant moonlight.

We arrived in Calango and spent the night there in a nice simple hotel (private bath), with no sign, but easy to find nonetheless.  It is located in front of the church, next door to an excellent “pollo a la brasa” restaurant (delicious french fries!!).

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Text and photos by Walter H. Wustñay Wayna
The undisputed masters of the wild Wiñay Wayna, the torrent ducks can be commonly seen on the rocky riverbanks.

(LIP-jl) — The cloud forests of Peru’s Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary are home to a host of incredible creatures which often remain invisible to hikers. Come with us and discover the secrets of their lair.

It was a dizzying gorge, more than 100 meters deep, plunging straight down to the river. Between the moss and the orchids, thousands of yellow-leafed epiphytic plants clung to the rock walls while the white foaming torrent pounded on the rocks below. The roar of the waterfall was deafening, drowning out the birdsong.

Huddled on a narrow ledge, we watched the river rush through the canyon, whose rock walls have been polished by centuries of continuous erosion. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a pair of shapes make headway against the current, practically effortlessly. Every now and then, they halt at one of the vast polished boulders, before pushing off again into the swirling currents, as if defying the mighty Vilcanota River.

It is a pair of torrent ducks (Merganetta armata), one of the most extraordinary creatures to inhabit the mountain rivers. Commonly found in any highland body of water at altitudes over 1,000 meters, these birds, which will only live in clean, pollution-free water, have been doted by nature with the astounding ability to swim through the wildest rapids, making them their undisputed habitat.ñay Wayna
The archaeological site of Wiñay Wayna looks out over the valley from its ledge. The view is simply impressive.

The apparent risk of living in such an environment is compensated for by access to abundant food, for which there is no competition: the larvae of thousands of insects amongst the rocks, submerged in water rich in oxygen. Another species, albeit smaller, shares the rapids in search of smaller insects and larvae. This is the water blackbird (Cinclus leucocephalus), a tiny black-and-white bird no bigger than a sparrow which has literally learned to swim underwater in search of food.

As quickly as they arrived, the ducks flutter upriver. We decide to stay beside the river to photograph the dazzling variety of wildflowers. A purple fuchsia brims over with nectar for the ever-hungry hummingbird. The tiny bird will pollinate each flower with the pollen that clings to its feathers.

In another bulb, a pair of emerald green beetles appear to struggle clumsily inside the brightly hued flower. A little further away, fruit has proved to be irresistible for legions of colorful butterflies, while a slight movement amongst the leaves points to the presence of caterpillars, which in appearance look like something out of science fiction.

The forest is also home to two other creatures, as beautiful as they are elusive: the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the pudú or sachacabra (Pudu mephistopheles). The spectacled bear is South America’s only bear species, and lives out a vegetarian existence hidden deep in the cloud forest; the sacahacabra is a species of dwarf deer which stands just 30 centimeters high. The animal waits for sundown before setting off in search of shoots and fallen fruit, hidden by the undergrowth, making it invisible to predators.

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for map of the area - click here -Courtesy of

Text by David Rocca
Photos by José Luis Bustamante & Walter Wust enchanted villa: Arequipa through the ages
The enchanted villa: Arequipa through the ages
© LivinginPeru

(LIP-wb) — Nearly 500 years after co-habiting with the smoke of volcanoes, successive earthquakes and reconstructions and countless revolutions, the people of Arequipa in Peru have preserved an odd blend of haughty native pride and provincial innocence, where courtly manners, kindness and mood swings are expressed without the slightest problem or contradiction.

The city, which is not a big one as cities go, lies in the middle of some of the prettiest countryside, and yet is solid in its magnificence, good taste and history. Some may feel UNESCO’s decision to declare Arequipa a Mankind Heritage Site a little late in coming, as Villa Hermosa de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Arequipa has long been a monument to all things Peruvian.

Rows of recently-built houses receive visitors along a well-kempt avenue. Nothing is particularly striking about the town until visitors come to a superb bridge. The Bolognesi bridge, built during the Republican era, leads directly from the district of Yanahuara to the main square in downtown Arequipa.

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for map of the area - click here -Courtesy of

Text: Martín Acero         Photos: César Morán

Watchful eye

enlargeMachu Pichhu under the watchful eye of a local

(LIP-jl) — Since 1997, a group of public and private entities have been battling to preserve and protect Peru’s most prized cultural and natural heritage: the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

The Peruvian Trust Fund for Protected Areas (PROFONANPE), sums it up succinctly: Machu Picchu is Peru’s best-known attraction worldwide. Without a doubt, it is the most impressive archaeological legacy of Peru’s past. The Historical Sanctuary includes 32,000 hectares of mountains, watersheds, rivers and cloud forest, an area of priceless ecological and geological worth, and a matchless landscape.
The archaeological remains are also superbly crafted, blending in with the landscape.

Its special location, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, and its cloud forest teeming with biological diversity, lends it a uniquely beautiful quality. And if that wasn’t enough, it is also Peru’s most heavily-visited tourist destination. Last year, more than 400,000 tourists visited the citadel.

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for map of the area - click here -Courtesy of

Text and Photos: Walter H. Wust

Mount Coropuna

enlargeThe serene quality of the highland plain is reflected in the still waters of Lake, which is fed by the melting glacier on Mount Coropuna

(LIP-wb) — This lost valley wedged in the heart of the Andes is the extraordinary site of nearly a hundred volcanoes of every size under the sun, dotted with groves of cactus and villages built on top of long-cooled lava flows.

This is Andagua, the Volcanoe’s playground.

Our expedition sets off from the city of Arequipa at dawn. It is still pitch dark, but the snowy mountain peaks that guard this region are already glowing with the first rays of dawn.

Our route will take us West, to the vast plains of Majes before trudging up the ancient route carved out by the rivers that come tumbling down the massif. We are headed for the other side of the mountains.

Our destination is a tiny, practically unknown valley hidden between vast cliffs of granite, overshadowed by two of the highest mountains on the western slope of the Andes: Mount Coropuna (6,425 meters), the highest volcano in Peru, and Solimana (6,323 meters), a solid summit of rock and ice from where one can spot the distant Pacific Ocean more than 200 km away.

Both mountains are revered as "apus", or guardian spirits of these lands by the highland communities. Their brooding presence does not fail to inspire admiration.

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translated by Wolfy Becker
(original German text by Mathias Thurm, Die Welt)

Iglesia La Ermita in Barranco, Lima

enlargeIglesia La Ermita in Barranco, Lima
(Photo: elmorsa, at Flickr)

In the "Barrio Barranco" people are realizing the extreme social opposites existing in Peru’s capital from a relaxed and friendly side.

Through the eyes of Peruvian writer Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Lima was "La horrible". The verdict of his colleague Mario Vargas Llosa, who owns a luxury apartment with ocean view in Lima’s upper-class district of Miraflores, is also anything else but flattering: "If you live in Lima, you either have to get used to adversity or dirt, otherwise you’ll turn crazy or commit suicide."