Nine million people live in Lima, Peru’s capital and largest city. In travel circles, Lima does not enjoy a very good reputation. I am not sure why; it has a lively high street leading up to a lovely historic centre, a bohemian district (Barranco), a beach and a gringo district riddled with shops, bars and restaurants (Miraflores). And let’s not forget about the food. Lima has some high level cuisine and it’s a great place to try out some of Peru’s delicacies.
While I liked Lima, it didn’t seem to like me much. In my first few hours in the city I was made aware that the famous lightshow fountain was closed during the days I was there, the fancy beachside shopping center Larcomar was closed because of a fire incident just a few days before my arrival and Burger King let me wait in line for fifteen minutes just to inform me that they are out of ice cream. Life can be just cruel sometimes.
With my tourist options seriously limited I spent my few days here wandering around the historic center, eating good food in Miraflores and enjoying the relaxed vibe in Barranco.
Lima was also the start for my journey with Peru Hop which would take me all the way to La Paz, Bolivia. Peru Hop is a company that offers a hop-on hop-off bus system on pre-determined routes. People are free to spend as much time as they want in each place but can rely on a safe bus service and get help with bookings of hostels and tours if needed. It’s also a great way to meet other travelers which will be along the same route for a while.
A Peru Hop employee picked me up early in the morning and escorted me in a taxi to the point where the bus would pass and welcome the passengers departing to Paracas. Nilo, the Peru Hop representative on this first bus, is quite a character and was responsible for some laughs, intended and otherwise. The bus took off and before heading to Paracas, he made his way up the hills outside Lima for a quick break with a view over the city and a history lesson.
It became clear very quickly that I, along with the fellow travelers I talked to, would be a fan of Peru Hop. I am not very fond of guided tours and group traveling, which is why I greatly appreciated the freedom of staying as long as you want in every place and the fact that each person is responsible for managing his own travel itinerary via online access. Not having to research and organize each stretch of the way with different bus companies was a welcome change in comfort for once.
Now, enough of the advertising I am not being paid for and on to the next stops. Travelling south we will hit Paracas and the desert oasis Huacachina next.