2007 Roadtrip Puerto Inka, Nasca, Ica, Paracas and on to Lima Before the Earthquake

Luckily, a man at the gas station in Camaná pointed out that there was a problem with our Thule bike rack. One of bike holders had lost 2 bolts and was practically falling off. Fortunately one of the bolts was sitting on the roof of the car. The other bolt was lost. Dimitri spent about 2 hours taking the racks apart and putting them back together, using a bolt from the back for the front piece where the one had been lost. (We had used a Thule bike rack in Australia when we toured on paved roads for 26,000 km. We had no problems there. We also used a Thule bike rack for 4 years in Europe. In Chile, Argentina and Perú, we figure the roads have been bumpier and we must check our bolts periodically.)
When we finally got to Puerto Inka, we were delighted and relieved. (Hotel Puerto Inka Resort, Panamericana Sur km 603, Chala, Arequipa, fono: (51-54) 551-1055, e-mail: puertoinka@puertoinka.com.pe, web:www.puertoinka.com.pe). It is a fairly basic set of rooms but the bay is idyllic and remote (at the end of a short, not too bumpy, dirt road). There are ruins where the Inca runners lived when they fished and salted the catch before running up to Cusco with it.

Dimitri exploring the Inca ruins at Puerto Inka
We spent a delightful evening looking out at the bay from our veranda (having the wine and cheese that Audre had packed) in candlelight (that was also in our kit) with mosquito coils (also in our kit). Our room cost S/.189.50 (about US$60) and was worth it (although we learned later they have packages with meals that would have been cheaper). Our dinner was very good fish for S/.50 (about US$16 with our own wine). Alejandro, the creator of http://perufood.blogspot.com/ memorialized our stay at Puerto Inka by publishing this photo of us having breakfast there. Click here to see Alejandro's article about us.
The famous photo of us at Puerto Inka

We spent one night in Puerto Inka and the next day drove to Nasca to see the lines in the sand created by the Nasca and Paracas people between 900 BC and AD 600. What these lines mean and why they were made has spawned numerous theories, particularly since they can only be appreciated from the air. We took an AreoCóndor flight for US$40 (charged in dollars) and took some surprisingly good photos.
The Nasca Lines known as The Astronaut

It was early enough after our flight to keep driving towards Ica. We stopped at the Ocucaje winery (where most of Perú’s wine comes from). Lonely Planet said "the winery now has an upmarket resort hotel". It was in an awful state of disrepair so we didn’t stay.

We drove on to the Hotel Las Dunas Sun Resort (Av. La Angostura 400, Ica, fono: (51-56) 25 6224, web: www.lasdunashotel.com). It was very full and the prices were high. When we got there at about 6 p.m., we saw standard rooms that were not comfortable and so Dimitri started negotiating with the front desk for the suite. The manager joined in and when he offered us a suite, that had a private courtyard with a Jacuzzi in it, for a price less than we had offered, we took it. The negotiated price for the suite was S/.330 (about US$100), with breakfast and service.

Unfortunately, the Jacuzzi had no hot water and had to be filled with hot water from a garden hose. We decided to go to dinner first and use the Jacuzzi after dinner. Dinner in the main dining room was a buffet for Valentine’s Day and was a circus. We found a smaller room and had 2 waiters for ourselves. (At breakfast the next day, we ate with all of the people and saw some Americans from a former era that looked like they believed in the creation of the Nasca Lines by extra-terrestrials. One of them looked like Colonel Sanders in his totally white suit, long white beard and waist-long white hair.)

Our dinner was okay and blessedly calm. When we returned to our suite, the water had drained out of the Jacuzzi. Oh well, we left the next day for Paracas without a Jacuzzi event.

In Paracas we were going to stay a week for our beach experience. It wasn’t meant to be. The Libertador-affiliated Hotel Paracas Reserva Natural (Av. Paracas No. 173, Paracas, fono: (51-56) 545-100, e-mail: hparacas@terra.com.pe, web: hotelparacas.com) could only accommodate us for one night. The price was exorbitant (S/.609.32 or US$191.07) for their one ocean view suite, Room 201 and we weren’t in a position to negotiate. The standard rooms there didn´t seem to have ocean views or much light, for that matter.

The hotel is beautifully situated, obviously popular, but is tired-looking. We were going to use the hotel’s kayaks; fortunately did not because the wind came up in the afternoon and it would have been very unpleasant. Instead we took a walk along the shoreline. We met some lovely women from Lima who were renting a house on the beach. They were going to help us find a house to rent for a week but could not. This was, after all, high season. After our walk, we booked the hotel’s outdoor Jacuzzi and had a nice warm soak.

Perú’s tourist site lists Paracas as one of Perú’s main mountain biking areas. It is a sandy, desert area and had we stayed longer we would have taken the recommended route. Probably that ride would have ruined our bikes with sand.
Dinner at the hotel was okay but crowded. It was here at meals that we first experienced the new annoyance of the digital age. Groups of tourists would bring their laptops into the dining room, set up the computer and view photos together in bunches. Not as bad as talking on cell phones but pretty inappropriate.

The next day, before leaving, we went on a boat tour of the Isla Ballestas (it cost US $80 for the 2 of us). >
The geoglyph known as the Candelabra on the way to Islas Balestas

Called the "poor man’s Galapagos," it was great and we got some good photos.
A sea lion performs for us on Islas Balestas

The penguins and pelicans on Islas Balestas

For lunch we stopped in Pisco on our way to Lima. We couldn’t find El Portal del Pisco which was in Lonely Planet so we went instead to As de Oro's Restaurante (Av. San Martín 472, Pisco, Perú, fono: 838 3511, e-mail: asdeorossrl@hotmail.com asdeorossrl@yahoo.com) and had a delicious cebiche mixto with fried yucca chips for S/.51.45 or US $16.18.

This is the area of Perú that was hardest hit by the August 2007 earthquake, centered near Ica and Pisco. We were lucky to have toured the area in the previous February when all was calm. We think that the blogsite http://perufood.blogspot.com/ did a particularly good job in capturing the devastation in Pisco. Click to see what Alejandro has done on his blog

The http://www.livinginperu.com/website also published a Newsletter Extra on August 16, 2007 with a very good account of the earthquake. Check it out too.

We arrived in Lima around 4:30 p.m. and started our long-term accommodation search.
The main north-south highway, the Panamericana, was sometimes very sandy.

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