We did plan to leave Cusco the very next day after returning from the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. We got up early for breakfast and checked out of the hostel. We got to the Plaza de las Armas to meet with an Italian girl whom I met in San Pedro de Atacama. We had a nice lunch date, and one of her friends joined us later. We returned to the hostel and decided to stay one more night in Cusco. Our new met friends of the Salkantay trek invited us for some drinks and music in the afternoon. We agreed to meet them at 3 PM in the Limbus resto-bar. The bar has one of the best views of the city of Cusco, definitely worth a visit whilst in Cusco! It was great to relax, chat and listen to some live music.
We spent a couple of hours in the bar, before we agreed to meet with the group for dinner. One of the American girls, who lived in Cusco for almost half a year, suggested an Italian restaurant: La Cantina. She only forgot to tell us that it is a wine bar and not a restaurant. The owner kindly explained to us what a wine bar is, and how to approach our order. We ordered some bottles of wine, a mixed platter of Italian cheeses and cured hams, and some pizzas. It was by far the most delicious Italian food I had in South America! Especially the Italian cheeses tasted amazing. We joined the Americans and went to their hotel: the J W Marriot, one of the most luxurious in town. After we had some drinks in the lounge, we got to the hotel spa. We relaxed in the hot tub for a couple of minutes before security came and kicked us out. The spa was only for hotel guests. We went to the hotel suite for some drinks. A few glasses of pisco later, we went into town to go out. We visited two clubs that night, quite fun. Past 4 in the morning I was finally back at the hostel for some sleep.
We checked out of the hostel the following morning, now for the final time. We left our luggage in the hostel storage. Before we left for the bus terminal to get a bus to Lima, we had one more lunch date. This time it was with an English girl whom I met in Mendoza. As we haven’t seen each other since San Pedro de Atacama in Chili, we had a lot of great stories to share. The food and coffee in Jack’s Cafe was great too. The only downside was that we had to wait in line for half an hour, and then had to wait for another half an hour for our food (which we pre-ordered in the line). It was nonetheless a lovely lunch. At 3:30 PM we left Cusco, what a great city and experience it was.
We arrived in Lima sometime past noon. The bus ride was long and exhausting, the windy roads made it hard to fall asleep. Lima has no bus terminal like many other cities in South America. We got dropped off in front of the bus company’s office. We had some lunch in a chifa, a Chinese restaurant. The food tasted good, and their set menus were very cheap. After the lunch we hailed a taxi cab to get to our hostel — Pariwana — in Miraflores. Miraflores is south of Lima, next to the Pacific Ocean. The hostel has a nice rooftop terrace, where we relaxed for a bit before we went out to explore the neighborhood.
Miraflores is a very modern neighborhood. Most restaurants and bars are located there. We walked through the cat park (there are hundreds of cats there!) towards the ocean. The view of the ocean from the cliff top was beautiful, we got to see some of the sunset. We strolled along until we found a mall. We got an ice cream there. Mine was made with yoghurt and frozen fruits. We relaxed for a while and gazed out over the ocean. Dinner was just a simple Peruvian dish with a beer. Back at the hostel I spent some time with Andrew at the bar. Drinking beers and watching the games of beer pong being played.
Breakfast was plenty, a decent selection of bread and jams, cornflakes, and drinks. We relaxed most of the morning. At noon we went to La Lucha for some of the best sandwiches in town. Freshly prepared sandwiches, homemade fries and fresh juices. And not to forget well priced. We hailed a taxi cab after lunch to the historical center of Lima. It took us almost 45 minutes to get there. One of the roads was even blocked due to a building fire. The historical center wasn’t really interesting. It focuses only on the buildings around the main plaza: the presidential home, cathedral, archbishop’s palace, and a few old buildings. We visited the cathedral, where the remains of Pizarro — the conquistador that invaded South America — are buried. We walked around for a while, until we sat down at the Plaza San Martin for a drink.
From the Plaza San Martin we got a taxi cab to Bellavista near the city of Callao, west of Lima. We agreed to meet with our friends from Lima — Raúl and Aldo, whom we met on our tour on the Titicaca lake. Our taxi driver had some serious issues to find the home of Raúl. It took him several calls and a lot of effort before we finally arrived. Raúl greeted us on the street and invited us in his home. We sat down and Angelo and I both got a free haircut. Thanks Raúl! We did a short visit to the supermarket for our dinner: pollo a la brasa (grilled chicken) with fries and a potato salad. Aldo joined us for dinner, and afterwards we went to the bar of Aldo’s sister. We had a couple of drinks and learned to make a pisco … drink. Back at the hostel I drank a couple of beers with Andrew, to say goodbye as we would part our ways tomorrow.
Day 3: Huacachina
We checked out and left our hostel soon after breakfast. It was a five hour drive by bus to get from Lima to Ica. We had booked our tickets with Cruz del Sur, a more luxurious bus company in Peru. It was equipped with pretty much everything you could wish for: onboard service with food and drinks, a per-seat entertainment system and onboard wifi (which didn’t work very well outside of the cities). It was a pleasant drive to Ica. I had the opportunity to watch the new Ant-Man movie from Marvel. We ate Chinese food for lunch in Ica, and hailed a taxi cab to take us to the oasis of Huacachina. We checked in at the Desert Nights hostel and directly booked our dune buggy and sand boarding tour.
We left at 4 PM for the tour through the desert surrounding the Huancahina oasis. We drove over the dunes for about an hour. Near vertical drops and drifting through corners made the driving lots of fun. We got dropped off multiple times at the top of a dune, where we would take our snowboards for sand boarding. We did that for three or four times. We then continue to a spot to watch the sun set over the desert. Back at the hostel we had dinner in the hostel restaurant, where we got a 10% discount because we stayed in the hostel.
Day 4: Lima
We booked our tickets back to Lima from the hostel. We had a couple of hours after breakfast to relax, before we had to return to Ica to catch the bus. We walked around the oasis, but there was not much to see. The village of Huacachina has mostly hotels and hostels. After lunch we got a taxi cab to Ica, and left with another Cruz del Sur bus to Lima. We arrived in Lima at the end of the afternoon, and returned to the Pariwana hostel. We did not plan to do anything today. So we just relaxed and hang around the hostel. We got dinner at an Italian place, where they served a decent pizza. Back at the hostel I went to the hostel bar and stayed there all night. I drank a couple of beers, and met a nice girl from Austria to chat with.
Day 5: Lima
Today was supposed to be our last day in Lima. We tried to get bus tickets to Trujillo for the day after, but that proved to be impossible. Due to the upcoming weekend and Mother’s Day every single seat for every bus was booked. The few busses that had seats available only drove on terrible times, where we would arrive at our next destination in the middle of the night. We decided to spend another night in Lima, and take the bus the day after. We got the last two seats for the best time available. Extending our stay in the hostel wasn’t easy either, they only had two beds available. Which both were in different rooms. Luckily we managed to arrange everything.
After our lunch we walked to a nearby cinema to watch a movie: Captain America: Civil War. It was an enjoyable movie to watch, but hard to follow due to the introductions of lots of new characters. Not the best movie in the Captain America series in my opinion. We returned to the hostel for a while to relax. When we planned to leave to hostel for dinner, we got invited by a Dutch girl with whom I was talking to this morning. We joined her and a couple of other girls from our hostel for a bite. We closed our evening with a drink at the hostel bar.
We checked out of our hostel the next morning, but had to wait until 3 PM before the bus would leave for Trujillo. The expected time of arrival was 11 PM. However, as soon as we left Lima we got delayed by traffic and police controls. We did not arrive until 1 o’clock the next morning. It was a 20 to 30 minute taxi cab ride to get from Trujillo to our hostel in Huanchaco on the coast. I was very glad when we finally arrived there, time to get some sleep!
Because the breakfast was not included at the hostel, we could sleep until however late we wanted and get breakfast on our own. We had an easy morning, where we explored the town for a while. Huanchaco is known for its surfing. It is not as popular as Mancora, which is further north. Most stuff happens on the beachfront. The town even has a small pier, where locals fish from and enjoy the views of the ocean and town. We visited the pier and walked to the end of the beach and back. On our way back to the hostel we reserved two spots for surfing lessons at Muchik’s surf school — the longest one running in town.
We changed ourselves into swimwear back at the hostel, and got some lunch on our way to the surf school. I had a plate of ceviche: raw fish cooked in lemon and lime juices. It tasted good, but I’m not sure if my body will like it. At the surf school we had half an hour of theoretical lessons before we got wetsuits and a surfboard and went to the beach. We got to surf on small waves for an hour, thanks to the help of our instructor. I managed to stand up and stay up for quite a few times on the surfboard! It was a lot of fun! We treated ourselves at the Chocolate Cafe afterwards. I got an amazing piece of brownie with ice cream — delicious! We relaxed for the rest of the day, got some dinner and went early to bed.
Today is already our last day in Huanchaco. I had reserved another spot for some surf lessons early in the morning. We got breakfast, and I surfed for two more hours. Angelo just explored town for a while. We got to the one place in town where they sold bus tickets for Cruz del Sur, and bought two tickets. The bus wouldn’t leave until midnight, so there was much more time to kill. We had our lunch at the Chocolate museum. They served lots of great food besides their chocolate dishes.
That afternoon we took a taxi cab to the pre-Colombian ruins of Chan Chan. According to my Lonely Planet they were supposed to be the most impressive and largest. The opposite was true, they were a bit of a disappointment. We were there for an hour and then walked to Trujillo. We did some clothes shopping and got an ice cream at the big mall on the outskirts of town. Back to Huanchaco to wait in the hostel and grab a bite for dinner. At 11 PM we left our hostel, and Peru, behind to get on the bus to Guayaquil, Ecuador.