South from Ecuador to Peru

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
Trip End Jun 12, 2007

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dean: The plan is to travel down to Lima, with one stop at Huanchaco (near Trujillo) for a few days. Another few days in Lima, then down to the Nasca Lines, then on to Cusco and the Inca Trail/Machu Picchu.
We set off from Guayaquil at 11:30am on Friday, crossing the border into Peru at a place renowned to be troublesome for travellers. We expected the worse but were pleasantly surprised. We had no problems at all, everyone was very polite and we were back on the bus and motoring through Peru within 15 minutes of stopping. During our travels we have done a lot of bus travel - and I mean a lot! For this trip we travelled with a new company for us (called Ormeņo). The tickets were a bit more expensive than normal but I put that down to us being in Ecuador and Peru, rather than Central America. Once we got on the bus I realised why we had paid a little bit extra - the bus was a double decker coach, with loads of leg room, really nice seats, stewardesses, a meal, TV/DVD's, etc. Way better than the US Greyhounds! We felt like we were in a rock band and had our own tour bus!
We arrived in Trujillo at 5am on the Saturday, which was a bit of a pain. Jumped into a taxi from the station to our chosen hotel and grabbed four hours sleep (we did get some sleep on the coach as well, but it's never the same as a proper bed). From Trujillo we used local transport (i.e. chicken bus) to get us to the beach town of Huanchaco, which was about 20 minutes ride away. In hindsight we should have just crashed at the station in Trajillo, rather than pay for the hotel, but we really wanted a bed to sleep in at that point - that's the only problem with the long haul bus journeys, getting the timing right for your arrival.
Huanchaco is a really nice beach town, popular with the surfers. As soon as I got there I felt like I was in Weston-Super-Mare, where my parents live. It has the same sort of beach front, pier, donkey rides on the beach, and seems to be a weekend holiday resort for the semi-local Peruvians. The only difference between the two places is that in Huanchaco the sea actually comes in (in Weston you are lucky if you see it once a month!).
We decided to stay for a few days as we needed to chill out after all of that hard work in the Galapagos! Basically walked about and sat on the beach, drank beer and ate ceviche (raw fish and seafood marinated in lime juice, coriander and some other herbs - the lime "cooks" it apparently). The people were really friendly and all of the kids wanted to try out their English on us, which usually amounted to them saying "Hello", us replying "Hi", and then them smiling and giggling (and looking quite smug that they could speak some English)! We even had a couple of Peruvian girls come up and ask if they could have their photo taken with us! I'm not sure if it was due to not many gringos getting to Huanchaco or whether they thought we were famous (maybe we look like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes!).
On the Sunday we went out to the Chan Chan ruins, just outside town, but I'll let Alex talk about them...

Alex: Chan Chan was excellent, really different to the other ruins we have been to so far. It is the largest adobe/mud city in the world and is really impressive and not what I was expecting at all. With the mention of mud I was expecting something really crude but there is quite a lot of design in the mud and the complex looks like it would have been pretty comfortable. There was even a reservoir in the middle, really quite surprising (and green) in the middle of the desert. But the size is the most impressive. The renovated/excavated palace complex is massive but it is surrounded by ruins of other adobe structures. We walked back to the main road for well over 1km and were surrounded by ruins the whole way - it would have been massive.

We spent a day in Trujillo before heading on to Lima. It is very pretty and colonial, but again definitely off the main gringo trail, which is fairly refreshing. We just wandered to the main square, discovered all the restaurants recommended by our rubbish guidebook had closed so ended up in yet another local fried chicken and chips place (I have never eaten so much fried chicken in my life), but generally a nice day.

Lima tomorrow....
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