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4 places to visit in Peru

4 places to visit in Peru
03.01.2020

For most tourists, Peru refers to just two words - Macchu Pichu. I used to be one of them, thinking this was the only place worth visiting in the whole country. Now I know that Peru is much more than that, and its treasures are innumerable. Even within one short week, you would have enough time to both experience the vibrant energy of a big city and get lost in the desert or in the wilderness with tens of thousands of seabirds and marine animals.

Lima neighborhoods: European Miraflores, history-rich Lima and bohemian Barranco

Lima is a lively and colorful metropolis that captivates visitors at first glance with its diversity. The neighborhoods of Lima are a kind of attractions on their own. A walk along the streets of Miraflores evokes a déjà vu feeling - as if you were back in Europe. The Old Town district, also called Lima, with its spacious squares and streets, numerous churches, palaces and museums, takes you back to the colonial times of Spain. The picturesque streets of Barranco fascinate you with their bold colors and romantic atmosphere.  In the heart of Lima another surprise awaits - El Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit). This bigger and even more impressive copy of Barcelona's singing fountains is worth a visit right after the sunset.

The greatest spectacle in Lima is, however, the shore of the ocean itself. The view is hard to forget - an 80 meters high rock with the city on top facing an endless ocean. Something fascinating is to be found in Lima at every step. In the Peruvian capital, poverty and wealth, chaos and order, desert and greenery, history and the modern day go hand in hand.

Ballestas islands - home to thousands of birds, sea lions and penguins

A two-hour boat trip from the town of Paracas to the birds’ and marine animals’ paradise is an extraordinary experience. Islas Ballestas is a number of small rocky islands where the only inhabitants are sea lions, penguins, pelicans, cormorants, seagulls, etc. The boat takes you so close to the cliffs that you even manage to take portrait shots of the marine animals. Sea lions are instantly ready to pose for a photo.

Looking at the more distant cliffs, at first you won’t even understand what black mass they are covered with. A closer look reveals that these are thousands and thousands of birds sitting side by side. Wherever the eye reaches are the birds - on the rocks, in the water, in the air. Their crowd is so huge that the whole scene seems surreal.

Pisco - a desert town with an American westerns’ look and a sad history

In 2007, one of the deadliest earthquakes hit the Peruvian coast, during which Pisco and its inhabitants suffered the most. The damage caused by the earthquake can still be seen and felt in Pisco. From the taxi window, the town looks like a shortcut from Desperado movie starring Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas: empty gravel streets, half-built low barracks and harsh desert wind blowing in the face. The thrill of the action movie increases when we reach the hotel door (or rather a giant metal gate), and the taxi driver, looking deep into my eyes, whispers: “Please be careful. Don't leave the hotel after dark. "

But the curiosity takes over, and soon we are out to explore the town by day and by night. Fortunately, we never get to know what exactly the taxi driver meant. We wander through Pisco streets that were basically rebuilt from scratch after the earthquake and run only into peaceful locals and even more peaceful gangs of tired street dogs. Danger is nowhere to be found. Just the sadness is in the air. But the town residents try to leave the sad memories behind and are more than eager to talk about future plans than to remember the past.

Huacachina oasis – the craziest buggy ride and the most stunning sunset

For those who do not happen to see deserts and oases often, Huacachina and its surroundings would seem like a scene from a fairytale. In the endless desert, lies a tiny village of Huacachina that consists of two or three streets located on the shores of a small lake. In this peaceful and idyllic location, tourists will find one exciting surprise.

Riding a dune buggy is definitely worse than some of the most extreme amusement park rides. I suspect I am not the only inexperienced traveler, who was expecting an ordinary, rather tranquil ride through the desert. As our buggy moves up and down the sand dunes at almost cosmic speed, one question is swirling around in my head: "What if some uninformed tourist came here with an elderly grandmother?!" And suddenly the wild rally ends - we stop to enjoy the most beautiful sunset in the world: golden sands and the sky reflect all the possible colors and shades, and below lies the desert pearl - the Huacachina oasis. Can there be a more perfect end of the trip?

***

In Peru, everyone can find his or her own treasure, be it nature, big city, history, culture or all of the above. I keep another heart-warming memory of Peru - its wonderful people. Peruvians are calm, friendly, open, helpful and extremely proud of their country, and it is hard to disagree with them on the latter. I start missing this magnificent country even before leaving and would return to it again and again.