Exhausted from our hike of 4,600m on Laguna 69, it was time to get our last leg of driving done before meeting Annie’s parents. After our hike we headed to Huaraz, and found a lovely little hostel where we just about fit in with the van. Since we’d been staying in a garage for the last few days we had been devoid of running water, so we took the opportunity to have a nice, long (hot!) shower and also do the washing up! We headed out for a lovely burger dinner – a nice break from local food – and headed to bed early.
The next morning we headed off at 8am which we thought was plenty early enough, however in hindsight didn’t quite turn out to be. We had heard the traffic in Lima would be bad, and on the way there even considered waiting until the following morning to drive through the capital, however we thought it would be best to get this drive out of the way. So we powered through the capital city and honestly had the toughest driving so far on this trip!
It definitely didn’t help in that we were driving around 4pm during rush hour. That and the fact that the concept of a ring road doesn’t really exist out here, so we were pretty much driving straight through the city. The idea of individual lanes between vehicles was completely absent. Indicators apparently don’t exist to Peruvian drivers. Also mirrors, and checking blindspots are clearly missing in the Lima driving test! So literally every time we passed another vehicle we had to honk our horn to let them know of our presence, or risk being pulled out into. Definitely the worst 2 hours of driving we’ve had to do – and the immense traffic meant it was dark by the time we got out of the city (which is a rule we try to not break generally!
Finally, we made it out of the city and had to decide whether to try to stay at a petrol station which was the safe bet or drive another 30 minutes to a surf hostel. It was a risk as if we got there and were turned away we’d have to keep hunting for a place to stay and it was already dark. That said, we were both exhausted by the long drive and fancied a relaxed morning so we went for it – and luckily it paid off! We had gated parking and a gorgeous beach which we could both go for a run down the following morning. Then we had a short (for us) 4 hour drive to a nice secluded campsite for the next two nights.
On the way to the campsite, which was in Nazca, we decided we had to stop and see the Nazca lines. Whilst it was cheap (at less than £1 per person), we weren’t blown away. We probably arrived a bit late in the day so the sunlight was falling poorly over them, but even so it probably isn’t our cup of tea. Definitely wouldn’t be paying over $70 to fly over them! This campsite was a perfect place to spend a whole day resting and relaxing. With really sweet owners, there were two other couples there and we spent a bit of time exploring their vehicles. One was a german ex military vehicle which looked absolutely incredible! They’d come up from the south so once again we could exchange advice with them before departing for the last leg of our long journey.
The drive from camp to Cusco would be around 16 hours, due to the mountainous roads – so we split it into two days. The first day was lovely driving however we did pass over 4,000m which was literally breathtaking! We spent the night in a Peruvian truck stop, which is basically a car park of a restaurant which we ate dinner in. The facilities left a little to be desired but you can’t complain when it’s free. The second day involved slightly lower passes which were a little easier to stomach, however the challenge came at the end of the day driving through a completely blocked up Cusco!
Even so we made it to our campsite, overlooking the wonderful city and had a relaxing night and an early bed. The next morning we drove out to meet Mallory and Arthur, the couple who were interested in our van to show them around. They enjoyed the tour and liked what they saw so we agreed a date to meet in Chile Santiago – a sad moment for us as the end was now literally in sight!
Even so, the next day we had some rather exciting visitors coming our way…