Peru Hop. Such an awesome concept. A hop-on hop-off bus service running across Peru, stopping at multiple different places and each person deciding how long they want to stay. It includes hotel pick ups and drop offs, discounts at accommodation and restaurant partners and a range of free tours as well as an English speaking guide. So ideal. Andy had done it before, so we were actually toying with the idea of following their route but doing it ourselves at a way cheaper price- in the end though, we opted for the convenience and safety of a tour bus.
On the first morning we were picked up from our Air BnB in Lima and drove for a few hours to Chincha where we stopped in at Hacienda San Jose: a mansion (now a five star hotel) that has a huge network (17km to be exact) of underground slave tunnels. African slaves used to be smuggled illegally underground from the coast to work in the mansion. It was eerie, claustrophobic and made even more touching by our Peru Hop guide actually being from there.
We spent the night in Paracas and the next day headed along to Huacachina. We experienced a series of free tours across these past few days: a visit to the Paracas National Reserve (more about this in the Paracas post), to El Catador for a pisco tour and tasting, and to the famed Nazca Lines.
The region of Ica is famed for its pisco – an alcohol made from grape juice. El Catador is one of Peru’s oldest vineyards. We were shown how the grapes were squashed, fermented and distilled by a very enthusiastic guide. We then got to try a series of different wines (with varying percentages of pisco) finishing on a shot of pisco itself. It was interesting and informative, even if I did find it difficult to concentrate in the heat.
At Nazca we stopped to climb the viewing tower, which gave us views over three different sets of drawings. The lines are fascinating, made even more so by nobody being quite clear about their origin. They take on some fascinating shapes including monkeys and lizards. Andy and I opted not to take a flight over the lines, but that would definitely be the best way to see them.
From Nazca we actually took a night bus all the way to Arequipa. I wasn’t prepared for how slow and bumpy the road would be – the total distance travelled wasn’t even that far! Thankfully each seat reclined and had its own charging point, meaning that even if I couldn’t sleep I still remained comfortable. Needless to say, when we arrived in Arequipa at the ripe old hour of 6am we went straight to bed for a few hours.
From Arequipa we took a full day bus all the way to Cusco, stopping briefly for breakfast and lunch. It was a pretty tough day and thankfully there was a toilet on board. There was the option to go to Puno and visit Lake Titicaca (a massive lake shared by Peru and Bolivia) but Andy wasn’t that keen to repeat that leg, preferring to spend that extra time in Cusco.
It was strange to arrive in Cusco and know we weren’t going any further with our Peru Hop bus. It was such a safe way to travel the country and also a neat way to meet different travellers. Highly recommend!