Peru was the place I started my South American travels and what a place to start :). My main plan was to hike Machu Picchu and for this, I would’ve booked a tour.
At the time I was looking, it worked out similar to price for me to book the hike and travel around Peru – I wouldn’t need the hassle to book the hostels, walking tours etc myself so I took advantage of this. The first meeting point would be Lima and this is where I flew directly from the UK.
Fun fact – The name Lima is the Spanish corruption of the term Rimac, which is of Inca origin. Lima was founded by the Spanish city in 1535, initially due to its closeness to the ocean meaning an exit point for the stolen Inca gold and silver as well as an arrival place for European colonist.
Let’s get straight into it – PERU 101.
Getting from the airport to Miraflores – Uber is technically illegal and taxi’s charge a high rate as well as takes 45 minutes to get into town. However, there is a coach that can drop you off close to your hostel. There’s two players that operate from the airport and you don’t even need to pre book. When you get your luggage and start exiting the area, you will pass through a small area that will have this company there before you exit to the main airport. It literally cost me like £8/$10 USD to jump on the coach as well as this, you can buy a return if you are planning to fly out from the airport. The staff know where all the hostels are located and they will show you on the map which stop to get off (i.e Stop D) and the driver will also tell you how to get to your hostel when you get off.
Also, if you are fast enough at the airport to log onto the airport wifi, there is a discount code for the airport transfer and you must take a screenshot of the advert from the coach company – it flashes quite quickly so you need to be quick. It will say something like ‘ 10% off if you screenshot and show this at the counter’. Every little helps right?
So to actually get on the transfer coach, they will tell you to go into the car park (it’s all flat and small so you can’t get lost) and direct you where to go.
- ATM: If you withdraw cash at the airport, there is going to be a charge. I paid for the transfer by card and found a bank the next day to withdraw cash. The only bank that offered free withdrawals was BCP.
- Food: there are over 200 types of potato in Peru and there is some sort of potato next to another potato served in all dishes. So don’t be afraid and eat as much as you can!
- Food: Whilst in Nazca, we were very lucky to be part of a traditional Peruvian dinner which was incredibly made. So a quick history lesson is that Peruvians are naturally vegetarians as meat was expensive and they were also used as workers (transporting stock around) so meat was only eaten on special occasions such as weddings, funerals etc.
Cooking – this is where it gets interesting for me (the inner chef in me). Back in the day, of course there were no ovens or stovetops so they would wrap both the meat and vegetables in banana leaves (like they do in asian). Dig into the ground, heat it with coals then place the banana leaf items on top, cover is with big banana leaves and then place the soil back on top as it traps in the heat. Then, this is cooked for approx. 11-16 hours.
It was worth the wait… it was so tasty and the smell of banana leaves made me think of my mum’s cooking. It was amazing to see that other parts of the world adopted the use of banana leaves with its fragrance, packaging and cooking.
- Public Transport – there is a metro (train above ground) that can take you around Lima. Pretty easy when you have a map.
- Uber – this is technically illegal here as cabs will get fined however, no one likes to be conned by a regular taxi driver so if you get an Uber, you will need to sit in the front so it looks like you are ‘friends’.
Things to do in Lima:
I stayed at Che Largato Lima Hostel as it was located within minutes from an ATM, supermarket the Information Centre and easy to get to the Parque plus there’s a lot of activity in this area.
- Walking tour of Lima – free walking tour but you need some change as you will need buy metro pass as you are going downtown. As well as that, please tip your guide in cash.
- Limeon Pyramid – Huaca Pucllana– predates the Inca’s and they still have researchers working on this. These pyramids are estimated to have been built in 200 to 700 A.D. There are a LOT of historical buildings in Lima and SO many churches. I decided to only go to the church that has a nunnery attached to it which looked interesting to see what nunnery looks like in South America.
- Catacombs from the Convent of San Francisco – I’ll be honest, catacombs freak me out and as a solo traveller, this is one thing that I wouldn’t do on my own. But if this is your thing, there’s estimated 25,000 bodies laid to rest here and this place has stood up to many earthquakes and was existed to secret passageways that connects the Cathedral and the Tribunal of Holy Inquisition.
Check out my other posts in Peru.