After Cusco I needed some heat and low altitude so I got on a 17 hour bus and headed south to Ica, I also did this trip with Excluciva and paid more for their Salon Cama seats which were awesome, so much space and the seats go to 180 degrees just like a bed with curtains all around you and a private tv. I’ve never flown first class but I imagine this is was its like minus the friendly air hostess. I definitely felt like a flashbacker rather than backpacker but sometimes you need to treat yourself and if I get somewhere and had a bad sleep it means my first day there is a total write off, and it cost me 180soles/£37 so it wasn’t that that cheap but the lower classes were just under this price anyway.
I arrived in the city of Ica at 9am but heard there’s not much to do there so headed straight for Huacachina which is just a 10 minute taxi ride away. It’s a tiny town based around a lake and then surrounded by sand dunes!
I stayed at Banana Adventure hostel which was a good choice and paid £19 for a package which included accommodation, breakfast and a dunebuggy & sandboarding tour.
I had never been sand boarding and it was on my list to do in South America so a few hours after I arrived in the town a group of us from the hostel got in the buggies and off we went!
We got to see the lake and town from the top of the dunes which is the iconic shot you see online and then we got to see just how vast the dunes were, they seemed to go on forever! We had some fun in the buggies with some stomach dropping drops and then got out to start sand boarding.
To start with I thought we would have to stand up which I was worried about as I have never been snow boarding or anything like that but we just lay on the boards head first instead with your head and chest up slightly and arms tucked in. I was really nervous to start but the guide (who kept calling me princess!) helps you get into position, and gives you the push you need and off you go sliding down this huge dune! We did about 3 slides got back in the buggies and then out again for some even bigger and longer slopes and it was great fun!
Huacachina is really really tiny and takes literally 10 minutes to walk around so I just stayed one night and mostly chilled in the hostel garden after sand boarding but it’s a place I’m glad I visited as its nothing like I’ve ever seen before!
My last stop before reaching Lima was Paracas, I got a Cruz Del Sur bus there for 20soles/£4 and it takes just under 2 hours. I hadn’t been by the ocean since Chile (and I wasn’t a fan of that beach) and before that it was brazil so I was looking forward to arriving.
As promised Paracas had bright sunshine when I arrived so that made me happy and I stayed in Kokopelli Hostel which is literally on the beach with a pool and good vibe and I stayed in a 14 bed dorm which had pod type beds which were really cool.
I went out onto the beach when I arrived and was disassociated straight away, just like Chile the beach was just completely full of people, parasols (South Americans love their parasols!) and then when the people left the beach late afternoon it’s was full of left over rubbish.. the sunset however was incredible!
I had booked for 2 nights in the hostel and had seen pictures of amazing coastlines online so the next day I booked a trip to Paracas National Reserve which lasted 4 hours and cost 40soles/£8 (including the park fee). The reserve is really nice and like nothing I had seen before, if you turn from the ocean and look inland it’s basically a desert, the guide told me it only rained 4 times a year for an hour each time and is drier than neighbouring Atacama desert in Chile but then you turn around and it’s the beautiful Pacific Ocean!
Here I got to see the coastlines I was looking for and we also stopped in a tiny fishing village for lunch.
After this trip I saw Paracas from a different perspective, I had a chilled afternoon by the hostel pool, watched the amazing sunset again, had a beer and called it a night.
The next day I was ready to head to Lima on a 4 hour bus.
I stayed in the neighbourhood of Miraflores in Lima as a lot of the hostels were here and it’s right on the coast.
I arrived at the hostel (which I really didn’t like but that’s another story) and headed straight out to the coast, it was a beautiful afternoon, warm with bright blue skies so it was a great welcome to Lima.
I then headed to park Kennedy which is full of stray but healthy cats and people just sit in the park and pet them! Because it was Saturday evening there was a great buzz and plenty going on, I also got my shopping mall fix (it’s so good to find a western shopping mall sometimes!).
The next day I woke up to complete mist! Literally the high rise buildings just meters in front of me were barely visible and there was no sign of the ocean! So I headed back to the shops, got lunch and then took advantage of the cool weather and went for a power walk along the coast and ended the day watching the most amazing sunset. Miraflores has a perfect west facing view and I didn‘t think there would be a sunset as at 5pm it was so misty still but by 6.30pm the sky brightened and it was beautiful.
I decided to keep on moving and left Lima the next day and headed to Huaraz. I fly out of Lima in a month so I’m going to give myself a good 3-4 days to see more then!