On Wednesday 19 February, in the early afternoon, after exactly 4 weeks in Ecuador, we left Guayaquil on a coach bound for Lima, capital of Peru. This was to be the first part of our 4 day/3 night coach trip up to the Peruvian Andes and the ‘sacred valley’ of the Incas.
We travelled on a so-called double-decker ‘cama-coach’, where the seats are larger and recline more. In fact we paid a bit more for a seat on the lower deck, which reclined about 160degrees, and was almost like a small bed. But not quite close enough for us! We can’t say this turned out to be fun.
We crossed the Ecuador/Peru border just after nightfall, and all went smoothly. For the rest of the trip the coach travelled on the PanAmerican highway all the way to Lima, with just a few brief stops. That road followed the coast, usually a few miles inland, and passed through what is called Peru’s desert coast, because it is a desert. It is a beautiful, if harsh & barren landscape, of sand, and huge dunes, backed by distant hills & mountains. The sea rarely visible. The desert is broken every so often, but not often, by a few miles of green vegetation where a river flows down to the sea from the Andes. Somehow a very few people seem to be living in this environment, we have no idea how?
The PanAmerican is not what we expected, mostly it’s just one lane in each direction, some of it in poor condition, but improving as we got close to Lima. Our journey was due to take a max of 28hours, landing us in Lima by 6pm, but in fact it took 30hours. We reached the outskirts of Lima around dusk, but didn’t get to the coach station in central Lima until nearly 2hours later, around 8pm.
Passing through the outskirts of Lima towards the centre, we saw basically shanty towns, the streets teeming with people in the growing dark, trying to catch a bus, anything, on the increasingly overcrowded streets. It looked rough, and very poor, for the enormous majority.
At last we got off our coach, and jumped into a taxi with a couple of others. We were all bound for the Miraflores area, where we’d pre-booked a hostel room for the night. The drive, of maybe 5km, took another 45minutes of manic driving, every driver with one hand on their horn.
Our pre-booked room had not been reserved, but luckily for them they had a spare, so we dumped our kit and set off for a walk about 9pm. After a quick leg-stretch we found a slap-up veggie meal at an Arab restaurant, plus beers & cafe, for about 60 Peruvian sols (£14).
We then spent a couple of hours wandering Miraflores…it was like a European city, as clean and ‘modern’, and a million miles away from the Lima we drove through to the coach station. Miraflores is a major tourist area, but also a key financial/business zone, with lots of nightlife too. It sits inland from the high clifftops overlooking Lima’s bay, where some very expensive properties look down. Naturally the only darker-skinned Peruvians we see are service workers, which seems a common theme so far in the posher districts of south America’s big cities.
We crash out at midnight for a needed night’s sleep, and are up at 8am for breakfast. We have time for another walk around Miraflores, in daylight this time, and yes if is posh, and expensive too – we get fleeced buying snacks for the next coach trip. We take a few photos for the record – a daytime pic looking south along Lima’s bay from Lorca Mar to go with the night-time one, both of which appear on this post.
Then it is back to the hostel to checkout by noon, a cab to the coach station, and off on the next 22hour coach trip to Cusco in the Andes. Blimey!