Book! Pack! Go Travel! by Robbie Mamo

Overnight in Lima

Overnight in Lima

While having the surf trip of my life in Puerto Malabrigo, I already had my next surf destination in mind. Punta Hermosa which is a popular beach town just South of Lima.  Getting to Lima from Puerto Malabrigo was easier than I had expected. Some friends I had met while staying at Hotel Iguana Inn had a rental car and already planned to drive to Lima the same day as I had to leave. This worked out perfect and it was going to save me a lot of time and effort.

If you don’t have a car rented then you need to first go to Trujillo. Once in Trujillo go to the Santa Cruz bus terminal and from there get on one of the many buses frequently destined for Lima. Cruz del Sur and Oltursa are the most common bus companies and fares run anywhere between 60Sol/$20 and 90Sol/$30. This trip is around 10 hours and you won’t have anything worth looking at along the way so a night bus is the best option.

There are also flights available which shorten the trip down to around 1 hour.

It took us around 8 hours to reach Lima and I got dropped off in the Miraflores district of Lima. Lima is a huge city and has a population of just under 9 million people. It isn’t always the safest place to be and this is apparent when you are driving from one end of the city to the other as it is impossible to avoid driving through some of the rougher areas.

The Barranco District…

I had been to Lima on my last trip to Peru 10 years ago and had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I stayed in Barranco and this is by far one of my favourite city neighbourhoods anywhere. This is the upscale part of the city and many of the buildings here are a mix of colonial and modern. Everywhere you look there are trees planted, flowers blooming and picture perfect green grass. This area is full of public parks, fountains and walkways – city life really couldn’t be better!

The streets here are lined with restaurants, night clubs and boutiques. You can easily spend an afternoon eating, drinking, shopping or simply walking around without having any sense of time. This is also right beside the Miraflores district which has a similar vibe.

I had some time between getting a few hours sleep and leaving for Punta Hermosa so I had a nice walk around Barranco and took a some photos.

This area is an oasis within the city and full of parks, walkways and lots of trees and flowers. Everywhere I went I could smell flowers in full bloom.

Bridges and walkways connect the hilly landscape that the Barranco lies upon as it meets the coast. “La Puente de Suspiros” (The Bridge of Sighs) connects both sides of the large hill that crosses over to Parque de la Cruz(Park of the Cross).

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This is a view of Parque de la Cruz from across the bridge.

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One of the many statues in the park.

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La Ermida Church and the steps leading down from it.

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The best shops, restaurants and bars line the street named Pasaje Alameda Chabuca Granda. This is a perfect setting to enjoy a great meal, a few drinks and some shopping.

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The Miraflores District…

Miraflores is another upscale area of Lima and it is also a great choice when deciding where to spend your time in the city. Based around Parque Kennedy it is a lively area with restaurants, bars and shops to satisfy any want or need. It reaches out to the Costa Verde(Green Coast) and along the shoreline.

The Costa Verde has wonderful walkways and parks that are perched high above the coastline overlooking the water. You can also see people paragliding off of these cliffs depending on the wind conditions and watch surfers catching waves down below. It is also a convenient place to check the waves before making the 15 minute walk towards the beach. Once down to the shore you can also enjoy walking out to the Miraflores pier.

There are many city beaches here that have seaside restaurants with great seafood and offer a great place to sit and enjoy the view while listening to the sound of the crashing waves. Located at the end of the Miraflores pier is La Rosa Nautica restaurant which has been around forever and is a landmark in this area.

Where to stay…

Having a good experience the last time I was in Lima I decided to stay at the same hostel that I had first stayed at 10 years before. I had heard it was under new management and wanted to see if it had lost any of the charm of old. The Point Hostel in Barranco is the original backpacker hostel in Peru and has been around since 2002. They also have locations in Arequipa, Cusco and Mancora. This is the flagship location and it is a real gem.

The location can be quite hard to find if you aren’t paying attention as the signage is very small. This is because of it being situated beside other multi million dollar homes and they have to be conscientious of this.

The hostel is a converted colonial mansion and the rooms all centre around a large open air courtyard. This is the best feature as it provides the perfect place to start the day, relax and meet the other guests. They also have a cozy lounge area with lots of couches and chairs, a restaurant, bar and a pool table. It’s a really fun place to stay and a great place to meet other people and hang out. It is a party hostel however and expect people coming and going at all hours and often times it can be noisy at night.

The rooms are mostly all mixed dorms ranging from 4 to 8 occupants and nightly rates start at 29Sol/$10 and go up to 37Sol/$12 if you want to be in a room with less people. All beds are bunk beds and washroom facilities are shared. The also have private rooms with the 2 bed dorm rate being 80Sol/$25 per night with shared bathroom and a private room with a double bed and ensuite for 100Sol/$32. All showers here have hot water as well.

These rates are very reasonable considering the neighbourhood and that you are in a converted mansion. This place is one of the best values I’ve seen at any city hostel and it is definitely the best place to stay. The staff are also very helpful and do their best so that you get the most out of your stay in Lima.

Another fixture in the backpacker circuit in Peru is Loki Hostel and this has a similar vibe to The Point Hostel. They have locations all over Peru and Bolivia and they are all consistently good places to stay. Loki Hostel is in the upscale Miraflores district of Lima which is about 15 minutes away from Barranco. It is close to the Costa Verde(Green Coast) and is the best choice for those wanting to surf the city beaches or walk the coastline.

The hostel is located near Parque Kennedy which is the main square in Miraflores. Here you have a wide selection of restaurants, bars and shops. There are restaurants to suit any craving and lots of place for great desserts.

The hostel has dorm rooms ranging from 4 – 12 occupants and nightly rates starting at 32Sol/$11 and go up to $39/$13. A private rooms is also available for 96Sol/$32 per night. All rooms have an ensuite bathroom which is a big plus because this saves on people coming and going in the middle of the night to use the bathroom if necessary. They also have hot water here which in this part of the world is something you may or may not find depending on where you stay.

Like all Loki Hostel locations this a party hostel and you will meet lots of people during your stay here. There are nice common areas, a roof top patio as well as a restaurant and bar on site to get things started before hitting the town. Expect some degree of noise here and lots of people coming and going. They also have a pool table which you don’t see at too many hostels.

One feature that I think is amazing about this hostel is that they have power outlets inside of the lockers. Anyone who has stayed in a hostel knows that sometimes having a free wall outlet is hard enough to find in the first place but being able to charge your things and have them locked up at the same time is a huge bonus.

Surfing in Lima…

If you are into surfing you can get some really good waves here. The beaches here are joined by what is called “Circuito de Playas” and this just means the circuit of beaches. The beaches and seafloor here are rocky and made up of small – medium sized stones which noisily click and rattle with each incoming and outgoing wave. This is because they blasted the cliff face to develop the shore and this brought down the rocks that were embedded in the ground they removed.

There are waves all the way down the coast but the most common are located near the Miraflores pier. The first break to the right of the pier is called Makaha and to the right of that is Playa Waikiki. This break can get pretty crowded at times and is the better wave of the two as the pier provides a wide peeling point break. Playa Redondo which is located to the left of the pier is a better wave for beginners as it is a little more mellow and less crowded.

You can rent boards and wetsuits here for very cheap and there are businesses set up right on the beach to rent boards. Pukana Surf and Olas Peru offer board and wetsuit rentals all along the beach and have good equipment. There are also random people renting equipment but anytime a credit card or ID has to be given as collateral I don’t just hand this out freely.

Things to do…

Lima can keep you occupied for weeks just by trying new restaurants, bars, clubs and enjoying the many parks and squares in the city. One of the best nightclubs that has a unique experience is Tequila Rock which has locations in Miraflores and elsewhere in the city. This is an experience not to be missed. This place is always packed with locals and tourists for a reason. It is lively, loud and full of energy. Adding to this energy is a constant barrage of costumed dancers and entertainers putting on a show. It is definitely worth checking out and you won’t be disappointed.

If you are into souvenirs then you will find anything and everything you could possibly find for sale elsewhere in Peru on offer in Miraflores. Located just off of the roundabout near the large park are 4 blocks of souvenir shops and the famous Inka Market, Inka Plaza and Mercado Indios. These markets are located on Av. Petit Thouars (block 52 to 54) starting at the corner of Av. Ricardo Palma.

This is the cheapest place to shop and don’t be shy to haggle as all prices are negotiable. Shop around first and then decide what you want to pay later before you make a purchase. Also, like many of these countries if you buy lots of items from the same person expect to pay atleast 25% less than the asking price.

I only had the one night in Lima this time and I arrived late so didn’t get a chance to do much more than take a walk around Barranca early in the morning before I got my taxi to Punta Hermosa. Lima is definitely a city I could live in long term and not get bored. The restaurant and food options alone are enough to keep me around. Pair that with great weather and year round surfing it’s a hard city to beat. The crime is also under control in the nicer areas that I stay in. I still suggest taking taxis at night or avoiding being alone late into the night but this can be said about most major cities depending on what area you are in. All in all, if you have time to spend in Lima when you are visiting Peru it is worth having a week there to take it all in and you won’t be disappointed with this wonderful city!

Gone on a whim…