Huaraz, the center of the universe. At least that’s what the society of the Chavin temple thought of themselves back in the day. Why? Because of the mountains being shaped as 3 of their gods. As the Spanish tour guide explained this, I really couldn’t envision the animal shapes in the mountain range. Others were nodding in agreement though. Do I need to correct the prescription on my glasses, or is this a story like the naked king?
Anyways, the Chavin temple has impressive architecture as the city attempted earthquake safe construction, for example sloping their walls by 5 degrees. Big place, rare signage. I believe there are English tour guides available, but 2 ladies in our group had to wait too long and gave up. Might be worth exploring this more before departure if English guide is important to you. Expect to drive 2 hours with a stop at a serene lake on the way. The city, like many, have a set price for this tour. Our hostel arranged ours at a good price. We looked into bussing up ourselves, but going solo costs more for some reason. Would be smart to pack a lunch.
Upon our return from the ruins, we caught the end of a parade. Not sure why or what Huaraz was celebrating, but we could see different types of cultural ware as we cut through the crowd. We managed to pick the slowest “fast food” place in the world. The 2-man staff seemed lost; and getting change required more time than receiving and eating the Peruvian burger. The city itself has much potential, unfortunately littering is an obvious issue. Other than that, it is surrounded by mountains, has a river through the town, and parks with artistic statues. I hope they get a cleanup crew through, and this town might be up there in the picturesque towns list.
Cost breakdown of Huaraz in USD*:
- Hostel: $11.90 (incl. breakfast)
- Transportation: $11.90 (initial transportation to the city)
- Food: $6.11
- Activity: $21.66 (Chavin Temple)
Daily Average Cost: $16.89
Right off the bat we noticed the heavy traffic. Imagine your city’s rush hour, times the traffic by 3, and then expand the time from 5am to midnight. You might get a break on the weekend though. My family member was driving us around to show us Lima around 11pm, and traffic still wasn’t pretty.
Don’t let traffic stop you from visiting! Lima, the capital, has much to offer. We stayed at my humorous extended family’s home in Miraflores, the tourist district. 3 blocks away, the Pucllana temple ruins portrays Lima’s history during the day and apparently becomes a trendy, expensive bar at night. Our guide suggested to try lucuma (a fruit) ice cream. I recommend this too!! I wanted to refuse sharing my ice cream, that tasted a toffee and fruit flavor combined. My description doesn’t do justice, just try it!
The district uses Mirabus (translated looking-bus) to give tours of the city. As we got one from my family, we didn’t use this service. For more information, stop by the info stand by the Kennedy park. This park should be renamed “cat park” because there are at least 100 stray, well-fed, groomed cats roaming around. Perfect destressing spot. Gotta catch ’em all.
Another, not-to miss-park, should be the “Parque de la Reserva.” Alternate local name, Parque Agua (Water Park). For a mere $1.30, visit the various fountains with lights. Because of the lights, I would recommend night time or the effect would be wasted. There is a tunnel connecting the two park sections. We almost would have walked around the outside, if the exiting personnel didn’t advise us; no reentry allowed, so we would have had to pay again. Some fountains are interactive, the most popular one displays a light show with orchestra music.
Nearby this place, there is an art park, “Parque de Exposicion”. The art museum there was recommended by my family, but we forgot to enter because a street fair of some sorts was taking place. Lots of hustle and bustle. Skateboarders, graffiti artists, and street dancers galore. Music blaring everywhere as we moseyed through. Being a dancer myself, I heavily needed to repress my dancing urge to not become the random white girl demonstrating the sprinkler. Nah, I know other genres, but I can bust out the white moves like a pro.
Before this place, we visited the Larco museum. Must be one of the largest, private collections of pottery, displaying over 45,000 pieces. Past the main entry, don’t go through the left door first! The sheer volume of pottery displayed is overwhelming and frustrating. After the first room, I didn’t know what to look at anymore. Less is more. Heading straight is the best option. The museum is laid out by region and then year. If you don’t want to stop by lots of history museums in South America, this one might be the best because at one spot you can observe items from many civilizations of various timelines. Potentially losing some historic details of each cultural story though. There is even an erotic pottery section.
Oh, and I can’t forget the vast waterfront area. Beautiful landscape, spanning a full day’s walk. Don’t expect to view to far out into the ocean, because of the heavy fog. Lima is known for its crazy fog. There are so many beautiful public parks all over Peru that I’m jealous. Not far from the “Maria Reiche” (discoverer and protector of the Nazca lines) section of the waterfront, there is the La Mar. If you feel fancy and don’t mind spending a little more ($10 - $25), make a reservation for this restaurant. The creator is the renowned chef Gastón Acurio, who is the Peru’s best known celebrity chef. Thank you Oscar (my family member) for introducing us to this mouthwatering deliciousness! So far Lima was my favorite place in Peru. Probably because of the diverse options. Don’t worry Oscar, I’m sure I will take you up on your offer to crash at your place again. :)
Cost breakdown of Lima in USD*:
• Transportation: $13.84
• Food: $22.74
• Activity: $13.69
Daily Average Cost: $12.57