Road Travel in Peru, Part 2 – Paracas, Lima, Cordillera Blanca, Huanchaco, Cajamarca

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This is part 1 of a 2-series story about our journey through Peru. Here you can find part 1.

We live a privileged life. You may figure that’s an obvious statement. Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It is good to remind ourselves of it every once in while, and so we do. Sometimes we camp along the coast such as in the picture above and admire the vast ocean, laugh at birds diving for fish, inhale the fresh air.

“We live a rich life, don’t we?” one of us most likely states. Even after all those years, sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream, that I am actually seeing all these extraordinary places and meeting such wonderful people. Border crossings are a reminder of how artificially we divided the planet up in sections so we have the feeling of being in control (of what, or whom, really). But when on the road, any feeling of separate entities disappears in the background.

Paracas National Reserve.

The landscape continues as it was on the other side of the border. People may dress differently, or eat other food, but they have the same worries in life about getting/keeping a roof above their head, food on the table and a secure future for their kids. They laugh like we do, they love the way we do. Really, we don’t differ that much from each other.

We feel privileged to travel by car; to live in a car. To have such means to ultimate freedom. And so we continue to roam the roads of our planet earth. From the boring Pan American Highway – hey, road travel isn’t always fun – to unexpected off-roads into the mountains, across national parks, or through vast stretches of wilderness or emptiness.

In Road Travel in Peru part 1 we shared on-the-road photos of south Peru (check them out here). Let’s move on to part 2: from Arequipa to Paracas National Reserve, on to Lima and farther north where we spent quite some time in Huanchaco and around Cajamarca.

Like in part 1, I narrowed the photos down to one theme: the Land Cruiser has to be in the picture, so the focus is images on and around the road. For a map detailing our route, plus lots of practical info, check out this Peru information page we put together for you.

Paracas National Park – Feeling Rich With the Lives we Live

The trip from Arequipa to Lima included too much of the monotonous PanAm but no worries, that was just the road; life is hardly ever monotonous. We first had to deal with me having a tumor and then a boulder rolling down the mountain, crashing into our front tire. You can read about it here.

Just south of Lima lies Paracas National Park. We approached it coming from Ica and thought it would be an easy drive over a minor road that was on our map. Easy is how it started out, but soon asphalt disappeared and made way for sifting sand and washboard. We didn’t mind at all, in fact it was an incredibly beautiful drive but you do need four-wheel drive here.

Coen deflated the tires after we almost got stuck a couple of times because we tried driving left or right of that horrible washboard. But hey, the sky was blue, a breeze kept us cool enough, we were leaving civilization, the trip felt like an adventure, and so we were simply content to be here and enjoyed every minute of it.

Lima – Concrete, Traffic Jams, Air Pollution

If there is one city in South America we would never recommend it is Lima. What a filthy place. Okay, I have to admit: we were there during the wrong time of the year, when it’s clouded which makes the place utterly depressing. Because of the heavy, moist sky and the air pollution, the dirt would constantly descend on us. For a couple of days I worked outside on my laptop as Coen had gone to a workshop and my keyboard and thus my hands would simply be black after a couple of hours.

Yet, at the same time, we did have a good time in Lima and stayed for some two weeks. In fact, we were quite busy meeting people. Coen played a field hockey match, which was fun, and Lima has a HASH for which we stayed. It’s a big, active, and fun group of people and thanks to the HASH we saw something of Lima’s beautiful surroundings.

We camped at Club Germania. For the GPS waypoint, and those of all other accommodation and camping spots in Peru, check out this overview.

Lima has a good organic market by the way, on Saturday mornings, where the food is not just organic but where you can find many vegetables that you find nowhere else in the country (such as kale and brussels sprouts). More about the subject, with addresses and GPS Waypoints, in this post.

In case you need a workshop, checkout Fire Wheels. Coen wrote about his experiences in this blog post.

Thank you inhabitants of Lima, for making us feel at home and welcome. For helping us out and sharing time with us. Despite the weather and pollution we will remember our stay here with fondness.

From San Pedro da Casta to Chavin

Despite all the friends we made in Lima we were glad to leave the city and to breathe in some clean air again! Meanwhile Emily and Adam had arrived in Lima as well and it we decided to spend some more time together, but in the mountains.

To San Pedro da Casta.

It took ages to leave Lima but then meandered up the mountains to the village of San Pedro da Casta, which was a super tranquil place to spend the night and do some hiking.

More about Lima, our hike at San Pedro da Casta and the Antamina Mine (biggest mine in Peru) in this blog post.

Road Travel in Peru (©photocoen)

The Cordillera Blanca – Waiting for Good Weather

We loved the Cordillera Blanca, even though we were unlucky with the weather and didn’t do any hiking as we had anticipated. It’s one of those places stuck in our head and one day we will return, no doubt. About this stretch and our sightseeing trips around Trujillo, I wrote in this blog post.

A couple of hours of good weather.

Buying fresh spinach along the side of the road.

Around Trujillo & Huanchaco – Camping & Sightseeing

Huanchaco was a great place to camp on the beach. Having said that, after Renee and Paul invited us to stay at their Guesthouse of Casa Amelia, we opted for that – it’s always fun to enjoy some Dutch companionship once in a while.

Whether on the beach or at the guesthouse, at both places we cooked a lot, experimenting with our Coleman Camp Oven, making new recipes in the Futura Pressure Cooker, and trying out our new Bamix hand blender. Read about all that in our Flexcooking in this blog post.

Camping on the beach.

The Far North of Peru – the Mountains around Cajamarca

Our visa ran out and we explored Ecuador for a couple of months (read about it here). But we were not ready to totally leave Peru behind, after all we had ‘only’ spent about six months there…

In March we returned. It was still wet season so not the best to drive around the mountains of North Peru. We had wanted to ‘do’ the loop around Cajamarca in December but hadn’t been able to because of a collapsed bridge. We hoped it would be fixed now.

Before we got that far we first visited some impressive places such as the Gocta Waterfall, the town of Chachapoyas, the sarcophagus of Karaija, and the ruins of Kuelap. By the time we were ready to move on to Cajamarca we learned another bridge had collapsed! It meant a detour of a couple of hundred kilometers but no worries, it brought another adventure and we saw not just some pretty amazing landscapes but also devastating ones due to the mines operating here (mostly gold).

Our Favorites

We loved road travel in Peru, except for the PanAm / Pan American Highway. I never slept for so long during the day, simply couldn’t stay awake. No, the highlights – with regard to road travel – definitely were Paracas National Reserve and the mountains, whether the area around Cusco, the Cordillera Blanca, or the region around Cajamarca.

The Land Cruiser worked hard, as usual, and as a proper owner Coen gave it the necessary attention on several occasions. He wrote about it here: Problem Solving on the Road.

For more on Road Travel, check out these articles:

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Thank you for your support — Karin-Marijke & Coen

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