And that pretty much sums up what we did in passionate Peru: climbing mountains 🙂
What did we like in Peru?
- Fresh fish! We greedily ate succulent ceviche and a lot of pescado in small local restaurants. It was finger licking good and a good change from all the asados we had the last 5 months..
- Going back to low altitude while crossing the country. Bye bye trouble breathing and headaches 😀
- Enjoying vitamin sea. We drove all the way up north next to the coastline. You can find a lot of surf beach towns to relax.
What didn’t we like?
- Crossing the border to Peru. At first, they didn’t want to let us in because our car is registered on Dimitri’s company and not on his proper name. Even though we have a legal certificate for it and it wasn’t a problem at all in the 4 countries before, they said we had to leave Peru and go back homewards. After explaining our situation, they called in the ‘chef’ and asked me to wait outside. They wanted to speak to my husband alone. Result? 50 dollars bribe to enter Peru with a false document on Dimitri’s name and the promise not to show the old documents to the cops when being controlled. We’re glad to we could enter Peru but really, in this manner? Smells like mafia from day 1.
- Corrupt police officers! And we’re not talking about a few. Every cop we encountered tried to bribe us. We got set aside from the road multiple times a day. Every time they tried to give us fines for god knows what: blackened windows in the back, stickers on our car, a local insurance… They try to rip you off and they’re not ashamed of it. When talking them out of it didn’t work, we simply said “fine, let’s call the embassy to see what they have to say” and they magically let us pass without ticket. We talked to locals about it and unfortunately they are submitted to the same treatment. It’s disgusting and not respectful. Serving the people? They have no respect at all and the government should seriously do something about it.
- A lot of towns above Lima aren’t safe. We were told multiples time not to drive in the dark and not to be in the streets after 7PM. We heard from travelers being armed robbed while camping, staying at the beach or when parking their car in the streets. As we didn’t want to take the risk we stayed in closed campings or hostels with a locked garage. Not fun: it’s more expensive and we really missed the outdoor feeling. Above all it made us want to leave Peru and rush up to our next destination because we couldn’t fully enjoy our travelling experience.
The highlights of overlanding Peru
- Hiking all the way up unto the geological wonder of the world: the rainbow or Vinicunca mountain. Until 2015, this mountain was covered in snow. The climate change (unfortunately) made the snow melt and now people are discovering this beauty (jeej!). The hike is difficult because of the high altitude (4.000 – 5.200 meters above sea level) and the long walk (4h up, 2h down). Dimi didn’t seem to suffer much but I felt like my last hours were counting :p We woke up at 4.30 am and drove to the starting point to begin our hike at 6am. We were lucky to beat the mass tourism (more than 500 every day). We were the only one on the path since the first guided tours start at 7am. When we finally were the first arriving at the top of the rainbow mountain, the snow storm began 😀 But it soon disappeared to show of its dazzling colors! Only minor thing about it is the rope they hanged around the mountain and a couple of snack shops at the top. It just doesn’t feel right to turn this amazing place into a tourist hole.
- As it’s better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times, we went to Machu Picchu! We actually missed our train to Aguas Calientes due to a road block and so we arrived in the late afternoon. We hopped on a bus (all alone) to the Machu Picchu site at 3PM. Glorious timing: nearly no one there! Most of the people go up at 5AM to hope to get a glance at the sunrise (bummer, always cloudy). We got ourselves a private tour guide and learned about the ancient Inca culture strolling around for 2 hours. Just in time as the site closes at 5PM and the last busses to town leave at 5.30PM. When we took the train back at 7PM, we got a magical honeymoon surprise from Inca Rail: a first class upgrade! We had a blast with the bubbles, the live band, delicious meal and crazy cocktails 🙂
Where to next?
Due to the heavy rainfall in northern Peru, we’ve been hassling our way up, non-stop driving for days. We had a couple of detours (bridges and roads that collapsed) but all and all everything went quite smooth. Today we’re relaxing at the pool and 30 degrees. Tomorrow we’re crossing the border to Exciting Ecuador!
Sarah & Dimitri