The capital of Peru, in addition to likely being the starting point for your Peruvian adventure, is bustling with life and things to do. Here you’ll find some general Lima tips and suggestions, as well as general advice for traveling Peru.
Things I did and loved in Lima:
- The Miraflores district is home to the oceanside, shopping areas, and the more upscale restaurants. I’d recommend staying somewhere in this area.
- There are Loki Hostels in most major cities of Peru as well as La Paz and Salta. And they. Are. Awesome. Though the Cusco Loki is my favorite and holds near and dear to my heart, the Lima Loki is also pretty great. It’s in a good part of town, has a fun staff, provides ample activities (and alcohol), and all for about $10/night.
- Go surfing! The coast here is awesome for beginners (like me). Just head down to the shore and ask one of the many surf companies to take you out.
- The shore of Lima lies at the bottom of a steep cliff, which happens to be the perfect take-off point for paragliding! Just do it, it’s great. And not quite as terrifying as you’d think.
Things to eat (and not to eat):
- You’ll find that sandwiches are basically the Peruvian national food. Love it or hate it, they’re everywhere.
- Just because you’re in a major city does not mean you’re safe from food poisoning. Unless your gut is adapted to travelling, steer clear of any raw or unpeeled foods (i.e. salads, tomatoes, chicken/potato salads etc.) You’ll knock yourself out of the game faster than you can say Listeria monocytogenes. See my post about Getting your Gut Through Travel to learn how not to incapacitate yourself for a week via a dirty salad.
- And you’ve got to try a Pisco Sour, the Peruvian Whisky Sour, complete with an egg white!
- You should probably also try out Inca Kola, the true Peruvian soft drink with a taste like sweet bubblegum. Not for everyone.
Get in, around, and out of Lima:
- The major airport of Peru, Jorge Chavez, is in Lima, so you’ll very likely come through here.
- A taxi from the airport to Miraflores (30 minutes) should be about S. /45, or around $15.
- I would highly recommend not flying into Lima one day and making plans to take off on your Peruvian adventure the next. Build a cushion in there to account for lost bags and delayed flights.
- The traffic in Lima is absurd. Many intersections don’t have stop signs or traffic lights, so cars will simply honk their horns as they go through to avoid being t-boned. Personally, I would avoid renting a car or driving here. Taxis are dirt cheap, as are the busses.
Taxis in Peru
- If you’re catching a taxi from the airport (or anywhere really), negotiate the price before you get in the cab. Many of these cabs do not have meters, and if you look like a clueless tourist, you may be in for an expensive surprise when you get to your destination. Bartering for taxis is similar to any other kind of bartering. Start at 50% of their initial offer and don’t let it go above 75%.
- And while we’re on the topic of taxis, do not let your driver persuade you into going anywhere other than your destination. Some taxi drivers work with hotels/hostels, and may tell you that the hostel you are going to is closed/bad/far in an effort to get you to stay at the hostel that is paying them.
- With the exception of airport taxis, a 20 minute taxi ride should cost the equivalent of $3 to $5.
Busses in Peru
- South American busses are like the trains of Europe. They go everywhere, are typically pretty nice, and unlike in Europe, are cheap!
- You may see an advertisement at your hotel/hostel for an all-inclusive, unlimited bus pass for all around Peru. You’ll see that it costs about $150 and will think that’s the best deal under the sun. Don’t do it! Busses between major cities are incredibly cheap (think $15 for a 12 hour overnight bus), and you’ll have much more flexibility if you just buy your tickets as you go.
- While you don’t need to buy bus tickets months in advance, I’d suggest buying your departure tickets from a city when you arrive in that city (so a couple days out). This will help ensure you get a good seat, a good time, and it’ll save some time you would have spent walking to the bus station
- Always keep valuables with you on the bus, and never below in the luggage area. One of our travel friends had her camera snatched right out of her pack this way.
- Busses will often include a small meal, sometimes of questionable quality, so be sure to bring some snacks.
- Bring a blanket! I cannot stress this enough. Unless you’re prepared to endure the most miserable, cold sleep of your life, pack a small blanket for your overnight busses.
- Most busses have restrooms, but you will need to go get the bus attendant to unlock it for you.
This is the route I took around Peru, starting in Lima then heading to Ica/Huacachina to Arequipe/Colca Canyon to Cusco and to La Paz. It took about 3 weeks, but could have warranted a bit more time (couldn’t it always?)
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