Getting to Peru from Ecuador can be expensive if you fly and for that reason, Robin had planned for us to take a bus from Guayaquil to Peru. Initially he had us scheduled to take a 24+ hour bus ride all the way to Lima. This was one of the first trip planning vetoes that I exercised. My kids don’t do all that well on the 5 hour trip from Toronto to Ottawa – I couldn’t even begin to imagine spending more than 24 hours on a bus with them. I was sure it would end it a flight straight back to Toronto. Finally I conceded that taking an overnight bus from Guayaquil to Piura, Peru was warranted in order to save the much higher cost of flying over the border. It turned out to be not nearly as horrific as I had imagined. The bus left Guayaquil at 9pm and after only about an hour of playing on their computers and getting settled, we were able to convince the boys to try to sleep. It helped that everyone else on the bus was also sleeping. Around 1:00 in the morning, the bus stopped at the border between Ecuador and Peru. We waited in line for an hour at border control and then another hour to get back on the bus, remove the passengers that were denied access (!!!!) and get back on our way. Sleep came easily again after that and we all rested fairly well, right until about 7:30 when we got close to our destination. We still had a long haul ahead of us – a 4 hour wait in the airport in Piura, then our flight to Lima, arriving in the late afternoon. All in all I was impressed by the boys’ patience and resilience throughout the 30+ hours of travel and I suppose, having survived it, I would probably be more open to a long bus ride in the future.
We stayed only one night in Lima and didn’t venture out much. Robin and Caleb went into downtown to buy bus tickets to Ica and get some food for dinner but Kieran and I camped out in our Airbnb apartment as he was in need of recovery (and a shower) from the long trip. From what we saw, Lima is a big city and probably could be interesting to visit. I heard later from our host in Urubamba, who is from Lima, that it has a lot of offer as a traveler. Perhaps on another trip we will visit again.
From Lima we took the bus the next morning to Ica where we stayed for 3 nights and 4 days. Ica is a fairly small place but here you can visit Huacachina (an oasis in the desert), see the Nazca Lines, and it is also the origin of Pisco and home to many wineries. Our taxi driver from the bus terminal to our Airbnb extended an offer to arrange our trips to Huacachina and Nazca and fortunately, having done research in advance, Robin recognized that his offer was a pretty good deal. The thing I was most amazed by about this was that Bryan, the taxi driver/tour operator, did not speak a word of English. Instead, he spoke Spanish very slowly and clearly and we were able to understand everything and communicate back to him (thank you Duolingo!).
The next afternoon we were picked up by a taxi (the wrong taxi due to some misunderstanding and a missed message) to go to Huacachina. Visiting this real life Oasis and trying out sandboarding was one of the items on our Top 100 Activities List. We were able to hang out and enjoy some of the desert oasis for a couple hours while we waited for the main event. The boys went out on the lagoon in a paddle boat and we stopped for afternoon snacks and drinks. Then at 4:00 we headed out for our dune buggy ride and sand-boarding. This turned out to be way more fun than any of us anticipated – definitely a highlight of the trip so far. Despite some mechanical malfunction that ended in a face full of engine coolant for Robin, it was a super fun time. We sand-boarded down 3 big hills and bounced around in the dune buggy until dusk when we stopped to watch the sun set over the dunes.
The next day we were picked up again, this time in the right taxi, to go to Nazca. The whole purpose of this trip was to go up in a little plane to view the Nazca Lines from the air (really the only way to appreciate them). The Nazca Lines are #84 on our list of top 100 activities. “Created some 2000 years ago, the Nazca lines are a set of some 300 figures covering 50 square km, the largest of which is more than 1.1 km in length. The mystery is both how and why these figures, which can only truly be appreciated from the air, were constructed.” I have to say, it was truly worth enduring the long car ride and the bumpy, nausea inducing flight to see this from the air. When you look at pictures of the Nazca Lines, it’s difficult to have an appreciation for how large and stunning the figures really are. The mysteriousness around their origin and creation are brought into focus when you see them with your own eyes.
We didn’t have enough time to visit a winery in Ica, but Kieran and I took a short trip to the Plaza des Armes where there was a little bodega that let me sample some of the local pisco and we stayed to have some ice cream (Kieran) and pisco sour (me). It was a nice little ending to our short stay in Ica.