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dunes on the pacific
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Sunday, 17 June 2018

Arequipa, « the white », is the second city of Peru, standing at 2300m high, between desert and pacific coast, overlooked by 3 majestic volcanoes, one of these being active. Its name comes from the white spanish colons who initially settled the city, and then it kept it later with the mix of populations because of the many buildings made of the sillar, a volcanic white stone. The city is undoubtedly charming and pleasant, and less touristic than Cuzco.

Arequipa 2 Arequipa 2

We start with a good restaurant, which is unusual for Peru, most of the meal being limited to boiled potatoes with rice, quinoa or maize, and a little piece of meat fat. We enjoy that dinner with alpaca and “queso helada”, a kind of local ice cream, before wandering in the city center. We visit the must-see Santa Catalina convent, which is both the biggest religious building of the country and the biggest convent in the world! Indeed, it’s so huge that it’s almost considered a city by itself, with streets, houses, squares, gardens and cloisters.

Arequipa 1 Arequipa 1 santa catalina santa catalina

Having rest for a few days here, we continue our way west. As soon as we reach the pacific coast, we loose a dozen of degrees and find ourselves in the fog, which won’t leave us for some days! We still have a thousand kilometers to drive north on the famous “Panamericana” before reaching Lima. Thankfully, the road (with almost no holes) is gorgeous, in between yellow, pink and black sand dunes and allows us to eat in small fishermen’ villages one of the local specialty : the ceviche : raw fish marinated in lime juice.

costanera 1 costanera 1 costanera 2 costanera 2

costanera 3 costanera 3 costanera 4 costanera 4

On the way, we pass by Nazca and its famous petroglyphs, difficult to see without a plane, which is out of budget for us, and it’s of course forbidden to fly a drone around here. We also visit some of the many necropolis, subterranean aqueducts and other pre-Incan ruins which are plentiful in this area inhabited since 1000BC.

nazca mummy nazca mummy nazca aqueduct nazca aqueduct

nazca line nazca line palpa line palpa line

After a quick stop at the very pretty (and touristic) oasis of Ica, we drive a short cut in between the dunes to visit Paracas national park. As expected, the road is pretty bad, but the landscapes of multicolored sand dunes and cliffs are spectacular, offering us some of the nicest camps of the trip.

ica 1 ica 1 ica 2 ica 2

ica 3 ica 3 ica 4 ica 4

paracas 1 paracas 1 paracas 2 paracas 2

paracas 4 paracas 4 paracas 5 paracas 5

Some hundred kilometers further is Lima, Peru’s capital city, and a Mecca for world gastronomy!

paracas 3 paracas 3

 

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