Ruth, showing off the weird rock formations at Mexiquillo Natural Park, Durango, Mexico.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Near Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Where are they going next? Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

We didn't expect this scenery

Most people who have never visited Peru have only a vision of Machu Picchu in their minds when they think of Peru. We were the same, of course, because we had never been here either.

So we were somewhat surprised to learn that the city of Lima and the surrounding area is all desert. That's one of the reasons there are very few trees in the city itself, and it's such a dusty dirty city.

In fact, Lima is the third largest desert city in the world next to Karachi, Pakistan and Cairo, Egypt.

Yesterday, we took the bus from the desert to the mountains. Online, I had booked the Cruz del Sur non stop bus departing from the Plaza Norte bus terminal at 10:30am. This was one of the more expensive bus lines, and we splurged on the Premium seats on the top level because you can pre-book seats and the front two were vacant. Cost was 110 soles ($43 CAD, $33 USD) each for the 8 hour ride. I figured it would be worth it for the scenery.

We called an Uber taxi at 8:30am, giving us lots of time to get to the bus terminal only 7 kms (4.3 miles) away. Still, it took a half an hour with Lima's traffic.

Ruth, waiting outside the Cruz del Sur office.

The Plaza Norte bus terminal is very modern. Because of security problems in years past, the bus terminal is operated like an airport. Your bags are checked at the bus line booth, then scanned prior to being placed on the bus. Then, you go through a metal detector and your carry on stuff is also scanned. Then you go to a secure waiting area to board your bus.

We learned a new Spanish word yesterday.

"Retrosado".

Delayed. As in "Our bus was delayed".

We were supposed to leave at 10:30am, but it was another hour before we got going. 

Here is our bus.
Pretty fancy, huh?

There is a driver, and an attendant. The guy standing there was our attendant. Why do they need an attendant? Well, to bring you your meal of course. Yes, this bus service included a full hot meal!

The first thing to do was get out of the city!

Yikes.

This is the Pan American highway as it goes through Lima.
Lots of people selling stuff to the constantly stalled traffic.

The suburbs.

The city sprawl goes quite far north. It's not an attractive area at all. We wonder why 8 million people call it home. One of our taxi drivers said that his brother lives in Arequipa and it's beautiful there. I asked him why he lives in Lima. "My family is here". 

Well, you make your choices in life.

The outskirts of the city.

Huge desert sand dunes.

We eventually made it through to some other villages.
Lots of fruit for sale!

The local taxis.

It's not easy to take decent photos from the seat of a bus. Especially on a mostly overcast day with bumpy roads! Sorry for some of the blurry photos.

Desert scenery.

On the Pan American Highway north of Lima.

Eventually, we turned inland towards the mountains on highway 16, a narrow two lane road with a lot of curves. Lima is located at sea level, and the city of Huaraz is located at 10,000 ft! But we had to go over a higher mountain range first before going down to Huaraz.

On highway 16 heading for the mountains.

Some agriculture in this area.

Scenery along the way.

It's meal time!

Not a bad meal... chicken and rice and veggies with a salad and small cake. Better than some airplane meals we've had!

Heading higher.

Across a bridge.

Lots of leg room for us.

We had about two hours of rain up in the mountains.

Over 13,000 feet!

I had the altimeter going on our phone. The highest point in the 8 hour bus ride was over 13,000 feet! Then, it was downhill for a ways before we reached the city of Huaraz at 10,000 feet.

It took 8 hours to go 400 kms (248 miles).
Non stop. 

Of course it was dark by then. I contacted our Airbnb host and arranged to meet her at the residence. It was less than 1 km from the bus terminal, and if it was daylight we would have walked. But she suggested we take a taxi that should cost 4 soles ($1.60 CAD, $1.20 USD). The guy we got said it would be 5 soles, and I didn't argue with him over 40 cents.

We met Madeley, a young girl of college age. Very friendly, and she welcomed us to the building. It's a five story apartment building.

Again, we splurged. We would rather spend money on good accommodation in an inexpensive country. In this situation, our 3 bedroom apartment with all the modern conveniences was only about $10 a night more than the much more basic accommodation. It helps that we are here during the slower season. Considering this is not a shared space, and we get the whole apartment to ourselves, this is a great deal.

Have a look at where we are living for the next week, at 114 soles ($45 CAD, $34 USD) per night...

Beautiful modern kitchen.

Washing machine.

Dining room table, with complimentary bottle of wine.

Living room, with internet enabled TV with Netflix.

This apartment is 3 bedrooms, and 3 bathrooms!

Our room.

The 3rd bedroom is an office.

View out our dining room window, taken this morning.

Huaraz is well known as a hikers paradise with the backpacking crowd and there are a lot of hostels here. Yes, we will be doing some hiking and we hope to show you some beautiful photos over the next week.

But, we have to get acclimatized first. We have come from sea level to 10,000 feet in altitude, and I noticed it when I woke up with a bit of a headache this morning which doesn't normally happen to me. We will take it easy today and tomorrow before heading higher into the mountains next week.

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8 comments:

  1. Wonderful trip with you! Thanks for so many photos, of course, and we're excited to see a part of the country (via your blog) than we have seen before.

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    1. Thank you, we are glad that you enjoyed the photos. We think you are going to be blown away with the scenery that we will be seeing over the next week or more, and this would be why we choose not to go to the Scared Valley and Machu Picchu.

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  2. Looks like a wonderful home base. I hope you feel better, that altitude sickness can make you miserable.

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    1. We sure think so. We loved our day yesterday walking around and seeing all the locals going about their business. The streets are clean and the people are friendly.

      We actually feel totally fine, as Kevin mentioned he only noticed a tiny bit of a headache that first morning but it might also have been a combination of some beer and the altitude. Yesterday we walked all around the area and figured we must have covered close to 10km and never had an issue. Today will be a bit more of a test.

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  3. Beautiful Scenery. You seem to have the knack for finding great travel deals. Nice looking Apartment.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the Adventure.

    It's about time.

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    1. Yes, Kevin does seem to have a knack at it but he also does his research, we stay away from the touristy areas which cost more and we don't do the package group tours which all end up costing more money.

      The apartment is great, it will work out perfectly for our stay in Huaraz. :-)

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  4. What a bus trip .... good that you had Front seats with lots of leg room. That meal looked much better than I expected. Great find on the apartment. Enjoying your blog as usual. Looking forward to the rest of your adventure. Stay well and safe.

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    1. I think all the seats had lots of legroom but the front seat had the best view. The meal was excellent, way better than what we have had on some of the different airplanes that we have been on.

      We are glad that you are enjoying our blog, we have lots to post about on our trip here in Peru. :-)

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