Posted by: carogouin | June 18, 2010

south american finale

We’ve updated the Viaje al Sur Google Map of the whole trip, check it out!

The sweeping views from the Way Inn Lodge.

Having visited and trekked to arguably the biggest landmark in South America – Machu Picchu – it was easy to feel that our trip down here was nearly complete, with only a few weeks remaining in Peru before we head back home. As it turns out, Peru has been an ideal country to save for last with its beautiful landscape, rich pre-Colombian history, friendly people and wonderful food.

As expected, we were a bit tired after our mammoth trek and were looking forward to relaxing.  We had one criterion in mind: finding a place like the Secret Garden hostel from Ecuador in Peru.  Thanks to the Peru Lonely Planet guidebook (and thank you to Andrew and Vicki for leaving it with us), we got lucky.  After a few long bus rides (28 hours in total) we made it to Huaraz, a small city in the middle of the Cordillera Blanca. Huaraz is a mountaineering hub and attracts lots of trekkers and climbers from all around the world.  We were grateful for that as we spent a couple afternoons in the super gringofied Café Andino reading English-language magazines, listening to David Gray as background music, and eating breakfast at any hour.

Part of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range.

Finally we pulled ourselves away and about a 40-minute drive outside of town, we discovered The Way Inn: a beautiful eco-lodge perched up in the mountains with a breathtaking view of the surrounding snow-capped peaks (actually, 3 of the employees had also spent time working at the Secret Garden hostel in Ecuador).  We settled into our bungalow, and passed the time reading in the hammocks, simmering in the hot sauna, gingerly trekking around the property, and eating their gourmet food. It was fabulous, though I have to admit I came down with infectious something or another, probably from some bad bus food.  Unfortunately the elevation doesn’t really help boost your immune system either.

The Way Inn mountain lodge in the Cordillera Blanca.

Our rustic paradise for the next 4 nights.

Colorful sunset skies of Huaraz.

Finishing up work in the afternoon sprinkle.

Although I had to stay close by, Pat was able to get away for a 5-hour trek with some newfound friends Matt and Rory, expats from the UK and Botswana living in Lima. I sadly regret not feeling well, because from the pictures it looks like a beautiful trek up to the pristine Laguna Churup.  The crystal clear water turned out to be a blessing for the guys, since both Matt and Rory had forgotten their water and had to share Pat’s 1-liter Nalgene the whole climb up.  Too much wine and ‘Locale’ (board game about exotic destinations) from the night before.

The trail creeps along on the hike up to Laguna Churup.

Crystal clear water of Laguna Churup, drinkable too.

Rocky outcrops on the banks of the lagoon.

Matt and Rory made it up despite intense hangovers.

Descending the trail in late afternoon light.

Matt and Rory take turns coming down the rocky cliffside.

Old stone walls surround small fields along the way.

After we were fully rested (and I was feeling better), we headed back down and the next day boarded yet another bus – this time up the north coast to Huanchaco, a small fishing town right outside of Trujillo that also poses as a surfing hotspot. Usually the northern coast of Peru is perpetually cloudy during the winter, but the sun came out for us on a few days as Pat did some surfing and I took in some rays.  We successfully managed to eat too much ceviche and were often the only customers at each restaurant.

The luxuriously brown hot springs of Monterey, outside of Huaraz – we opted for a private bath.

Meet the Peruvian dog – black and hairless.

Pat braving cold water and trying to catch some waves.

The famed Caballitos de Tortora – ‘little horses’ fishing reed boats – in Huanchaco.

Sanctuario de la Virgen del Socorro – second oldest church in Peru.

The Caballitos lined up against the boardwalk.

One of our last sunsets in South America.

On a cloudy day (and in between World Cup matches), we visited the nearby archeological site Chan Chan – the largest adobe city in the world.  It was built by the Chimu tribe (pre-Inca) known for their adobe friezes displaying geometric designs of aquatic life.  We visited only one palace –only one out of 9 is excavated – where the royal family and aristocracy lived.  The vastness and intricacies were really impressive, and we hired a wonderful guide named Gustave to show us around.

The ornamental walls of Chan Chan – biggest adobe city in the world.

The fresh water spring of the Tschudi Complex - still there after 500 years.

"Main Street" - the longest corridor in the palace.

The elaborate friezes of the Ceremonial Courtyard – representing the waves of the ocean and the iconic squirrel.

The outer walls of the Chan Chan palace – they used to reach 12 meters (40 feet).

Since then, we’ve made our way back to Lima, and I am happy to say boarded our very last bus in South America!  I counted, we took our 45th bus ride. And as we reflected on this, we booked a room in the same hostel as a French family of 5 (3 children of 12, 10 and 7) with their Land Rover and 2 roof top tents driving across South America and having already driven across Africa and the the Middle East.  With our Jeep safely parked in Arizona, we felt like wimps.

Out 45th and last bus ride in South America – the major thoroughfare in Peru: Panamerican highway.

Reminding us of our beloved Jeep.

We’ve spent the remainder of our time in Lima walking around the city in Miraflores, doing a little souvenir shopping, watching the World Cup and hanging out with some new friends.  These last 2 weeks have been a perfect culmination to our journey down south as we’ve taken some time to reflect on our last 7 ½ months in Latin America and soak in what’s left of it before we hop on a flight (tonight!) northbound for DC!

We are super excited to come home and see family and friends – after being away for over 10 months!  And as Pat said in his last post, although we’re coming home, the adventure’s not over yet since we have another exciting road trip ahead of us…

Goodbye South America – we’ve had a wonderful time down here! We can’t wait to see everyone soon and look forward to the next leg of the journey!

On the edge of the cliffs of Miraflores, Lima.



  1. Safe travels home!!! Come see us in CT when you get back. Can’t wait to see you. Love AL and UB

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