Not easy to capture a city in only five days, also working most of the time (a book on sustainable tourism).
But there was time for glimpses of something in between: China Town, paraflying in Miraflores, food-tourism, The Magic Water Show in Parque La Reserva, …
El Malecón in Miraflores. The inhabitants and visitors of poshy Miraflores are privileged with a long sea-walk which includes paragliding between and above high buildings and sea-cliffs for 50 USD for 10-12 minutes. If you don´t have your pockets full of money, there are lots of gym-machines placed around the park which in not in the least the children enjoy. And there is the Parque del Amor where people go to romance and take pictures of themselves in the sunset. Quite a place, both for locals and tourists! And well, we are also in the high-end…Nothing like this can be offered in other parts of Lima.
For three years in a row Peru has been elected the world´s top culinary destination. It´s the recent result of an explosive development which started some 10 years ago, lead, among others by Astrid y Gastón, now ranked the 2nd restaurant in Latin America. Nr 1 in both Peru and Latina America is Central. Both are extremely hyped, expensive restaurants which do build on traditional Peruvian cuisine. I didn´t have the opportunity (no way!!!) to try them, but I walked around in the neighbourhood where Central is located; no taxi-drivers knew about it, and few people on the street. When I finally found it, only a discrete sign of the number of the street indicated its presence. Talking about exclusivity.
And I was anyway looking for more down-to-earth traditional and popular local cuisine – but in Miraflores it was difficult to find. I was recommended El Senorio de Sulco. The food was nice, but pricy. And I didn´t like the setting or interior at all. Nothing Peruvian about it and the food was served accompanied by international evergreens.
I had better luck with El Boliviariano in Pueblo Libre.
A fantastic buffet fulfilled all my wishes of trying the exquisite local dishes. Ceviche is – wonderful. Also El Bar Cardano was a positive experience, located in the old City Centre which I got a very fast glimpse of: The political and administrative centre, the market, China Town…
I spent most of the time in Villa El Salvador, Lima´s enormous squatter settlement with 2 million inhabitants. The area, with a long history, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Award in 1985 because of the inhabitants´ incredible organization in order to improve their conditions. Today, that battle is very visible. There are broad paved streets, built by the inhabitans themselves, good houses in several floors, parks, shops and markets.
But along the slopes are the newer, more marginalized areas. This is where Haku Tours takes the tourists. The tour operator, founded by Edwin Rojas, he himself from Villa El Salvador, is the only company which takes tourists to the heart of the shanty town, and allows you to get in touch with the inhabitants, play with the kids, talk to the leaders, volunteer for a day or several, cleaning the area or improving the kindergarten. Most of the incomes of the tourism go to the community itself, the inhabitants deciding whether to spend it on improving the community kitchen or on new furniture for the meeting-room.
“Poverty tourism” is very controversial and by critics called “people´s zoos”, among others. Haku Tours does it decently, always with the dignity of the people coming in the first place. Is my opinion.
Try it if you want to see the “real” Lima. Where the majority of the people live, far away from Miraflores.