Ecuador to Peru
Peru Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
After spending a relaxed Christmas day at the beach in Montanita, feasting on chocolate cake and chicken pastries, we drove south along the Ecuadorian coastline to the border of Peru.
I imagined Ecuador to be a tropical paradise, with palm fringed beaches and turquoise waters but the drive through Ecuador was surprisingly desolate. Apart from a few dusty roadside towns and a scattering of mediocre beaches, it was pretty much a deserted wasteland. After crossing the border into Peru we continued south along the pacific coast.
Peru is a country that is hard to describe; it is both incredibly beautiful and hideously ugly at the same time. We drove down the Pan-American Highway which winds its way down the pacific coast to Lima, through a massive 1400kms of desert, that starts at the border with Ecuador and seems to go on forever. The beaches along the pacific coast were beautiful and the drive through the desert was for me, the best drive of the trip so far. But the small road side towns along the way were horrible, grey, dusty holes littered with trash.
View from our hotel room in a desert town on our way to Lima.
The 1400km drive took 3 days and although it was mostly desert it was a really fun drive. We made it to Lima on Friday afternoon, checked into our Hotel and went for a walk around the city. We stayed in Mira Flores one of the wealthier areas of Lima close to the beach.
Lima is a really cool city and a great place to spend a few days before heading up into the Andes. With lots of bars, restaurant and cafes it’s definitely a great city to go out in and it certainly rivals Costa Rica for the most beautiful women award. Alex spent most of Saturday night in another world after drinking some tea given to him by a local herbalist. I won’t go into details, but it was pretty entertaining.
Sand dunes a few hours north of Lima
On Sunday we continued the drive south to Nasca. A small tourist town in the middle of no where, that is famous for the Nasca Lines. A series of massive ancient drawings in the desert that can only be seen from the air. Alex took a flight over the lines in a small 6 seater plane, while I took the safer option and hung out in town. Later that night we spent New Years drinking and dancing salsa with the locals, out the back of a roast chicken restaurant. It was a pretty cool night.
On Tuesday we finally left the desert and headed east up into the mountains. Another incredible drive, through beautiful mountains and valleys and every possible weather condition you could imagine, even snow.
The roads and the scenery change around every corner.
We found this guy crossing the road on our way to Cuzco.
We arrived in Cuzco yesterday; a beautiful city in the Mountains, 3400 meters above sea level, where the altitude makes you feel like you are 60 years old. It has been raining since we arrived and it is absolutely freezing. From shorts and a t-shirt to 4 layers of clothing and a woolen hat. It’s hard to believe its summer.
Today we took a train 4 hours north along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. An ancient city in the clouds, with a stunning mountainous backdrop. We spent the afternoon walking through the ruins taking pictures and hanging out with the incredibly chilled out Lamas that wander around the ruins eating the grass.
What a beautiful specimen and a great smile.
The Famous Machu Picchu
This was one of the places on the trip that we were both really looking forward to seeing and while Machu Picchu itself is really beautiful, it is a complete and utter rip off. There is only one way to get there (unless you want to walk for 3 days) and that is by Peru Rail train, a government owned monopoly, that charges over $100US for the return trip. Then there is the $12US bus ride to the gate and the $40 entrance fee to get into the site itself.
It’s a shame that so many tourist destinations around the world are getting so expensive that the average traveler just can’t afford to visit them anymore. As picturesque as it was the over inflated prices definitely soured the experience for us.
Peru truly is a facinating country to travel through; a real land of contrasting beauty. From the beaches and the desert to the mountains, the landscape is forever changing. It has been and incredible 2500km drive through what has been by far the most interesting scenery of the trip.
Next stop Bolivia