After one final night in Cuenca, we boarded an overnight bus to the next country on our journey, Peru! Yet more border horror stories were discovered to be completely unfounded, with a 2am crossing from Ecuador into Peru proving to be one of the easiest of the trip so far. The desk to ‘exit’ Ecuador was about four metres from the one to ‘enter’ Peru – By far the most proximous* yet.
Eventually, at a fairly unpalatable hour we were deposited in the small beach town of Mancora. Having thought that we’d left any hopes of hot weather and boozy beach towns back in Colombia, we were excited to see if the positive reviews we’d heard were founded. We’d also been pretty well behaved for the week-or-so that Kim was with us**, so were keen to let our hair and/or beards down a bit.
This was our first encounter with a fairly legendary chain of South American party hostels named ‘Loki’. They stretch all the way down to Argentina and are famed for nightly parties, dangerous wristband-based tab systems, frequent happy hours and lethal alcoholic slushies. The fact that there isn’t really a great deal from our four nights there that I’m willing to discuss in detail on a public forum should tell you all you need to know about how much we indulged in the above ‘activities’. Suffice to say it included all of them as well as Backstreet Boys karaoke, letting ourselves down terribly at beer pong, falling in the swimming pool and extending our stay for one more night after we’d already booked bus tickets to leave.
I’ll leave you with those two photos and we’ll move swiftly on. One night after we intended to be***, we were on another overnight bus to a city called Trujillo. This was picked partly because of a complimentary paragraph in a dog-eared travel guide we found, but mainly because we wanted to break up the journey to the capital city of Lima, which would have been 20+ hours on one bus.
Trujillo ended up being exactly what we wanted and not a great deal more; somewhere to relax and recuperate in a quiet hostel, absent of the mosquitoes, sand flies and cockroaches that plagued Mancora, and without an alcoholic slushie in sight. It did also have an extremely handsome colonial-era square and would definitely be worth a longer visit on a different trip to explore its many museums and ruins.
After two nights in Trujillo, we embarked on a stretch of our trip that will again cover quite a lot of ground in a pretty short amount of time. Firstly we took a bus to Lima, thankfully not an overnight one this time, where we spent a quick night before moving on again to a place called Huacachina, which is a tiny settlement built around a desert oasis on the outskirts of a city named Ica.
We experienced the awesome sight of sand dunes rolling down into the sea at Punta Gallinas in Colombia, but the view of them disappearing into the distance was something completely new, as well as a tiny green oasis nestled within them. The primary activity in Huacachina is a sunset dune-buggy and sand-boarding tour, and we promptly signed up for this on the day we arrived.
Unsurprisingly we were both big fans of blasting around towering sand dunes in a Max Max-style V8 dune buggy, and the ‘sand-boarding’ turned out to be the slightly alarming but eventually brilliant prospect of lying face-down on wooden snowboards and chucking yourself down fairly steep dunes. At 40 soles, around £10, it was also one of the best value-for-money activities of the trip so far.
At about 7pm last night we boarded our longest bus yet, which delivered us to Cuzco at about midday today. Fortunately we’d spent a tiny bit more than we could have done for a comfortable bus, so both managed to get a good amount of sleep. Cuzco, as some of you will know, is where you travel to in order to visit the world-famous ruins at Machu Picchu, which we will be setting off to tomorrow and visiting on Saturday.
Absolutely something to tune in for next time.
*Proximous definitely isn’t a word but I’m going with it because it sounds cool.
**I’m sure she will counter this
***Ben, half-cut: “Oh my god we NEVER do anything this spontaneous!”