Route home

The original plan for my South American trip encompassed Ecuador & Columbia but was scaled back when the realities of traversing this continent sunk in. I had considered flying out of a Northern city rather than back-track to Buenos Aires for the return flight back to Singapore, but after a cost-comparison it appeared that looping back to Buenos Aires via Santiago would be the cost-effective option (the difference was close to SGD 1000). Furthermore alternative flights from South America to Singapore were significantly longer than Buenos Aires.

Peruvian domestic flights

We took an early morning cab to Cuzco Airport from Ollyantambo. The drive was to take approximately 2 hours with a buffer margin added incase on jams on the narrow roads that ran through the Sacred Valley.

An unusual feature of our drive through the sacred valley were the low-hanging clouds which hugged the landscape closely.


The scenery was lush with no shortage of farmland under cultivation which was in contrast to the lower altitude jungle of Macchu Picchu.

The driver had to pull-over on the side of the road to relieve himself before we continued on, while I noticed some familiar vehicles on the road.


It look similar to the small three-wheeled taxi popular in South Asia, but had been customized for the local market but was a none the less surprising discovery.

We reached the airport on-time but the flight itself was not as accurately on time as we’d hoped. After a wait at the airport with very limited announcements (a fairly consistent theme for most of our trip through Peru) we boarded our flight onwards to Lima. Our plane was an old British Aerospace airliner from the late 1970s though leg-space wasn’t an issue you could see that time had not been kind on the cabin interiors.

flight out

Road option

windy road

Some tourists might suggest the winding road through the Andes down to Lima on the coast, but the 24 hour bus-ride simply didn’t provide enough of a worthwhile experience to be worth the precious remaining time we had left. That said, even though you may save time with an actual flight, the sporadic delays most domestic peruvian flights encounter may increase your travel time ever so slightly than you expected. So don’t plan anything time-sensitive at your destination.

An Overcast capital

Lima is the capital of Peru and originally founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1535.

It being a coastal city was well known for both its seafood fusion dishes and given its unusual climatic features, its often white overcast skies.

We headed straight to our hotel, a more luxurious one compared to the past few nights. Lima was next to La Paz in terms of crime-risk cities on my trip accordingly to the lonely planet guide I had consulted when planning. It has improved a great deal since the crime peak of the 1980s but was still city in which visitors were to be wary of ‘express kidnapping’ taxis and muggings after dark in certain quarters. I had looked up the ‘safer’ areas within proximity of the sites of interest in Lima.

(You can zoom into the Lima area of the map for more markers)

I identified Miraflores to be one of the less riskier areas and booked the unusually ornate (to the level of near trump-level gaudiness) Luxury Hotel Inkari.


The room was probably the most luxurious rooms I’d stayed in since my stay at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

It had a very fancy shower tub that doubled as a jacuzzi (a detailed manual was stuck on the door.

Though we had little time to explore this hotel as we had to make the most of daylight hours remaining so we re-packed and secured our luggage before calling a cab to the Museo Larco. The cab arrived quickly enough though the driver misunderstood the address: Av. Simón Bolivar was the actual street but I’d mistakenly said Bolivar road without realizing the name was popular enough in Lima that it referred to several other roads. Though with some offline maps and much pointing on the phone we rectified the error.

Museo de Larco

The Larco Museum was one of the finest private collections of Peruvian artefacts in the country and was remarkably well-organized. Mr Larco had collected artefacts across the length of the country and housed them in what appeared to be his private mansion.

Under one roof you could examine items produced by the major civilizations of the region, the Mocha, the Incas among others. It covered pottery, metalwork and fine stone masonry and better yet, well presented and labelled in several languages. In this regard it catered better for foreign tourists than many of the museums we’d seen between Argentina and Peru.

Most of the pottery appeared to be drinking vessels, many of which depicting human sacrifice, possibly prisoners of war. With some having mythological beasts or jaguars.


The last item of the tour was a very grand set of Gold jewellery.

The weight of most pre-Hispanic Peruvian Gold and Silver items were said to be relatively light as the smiths beat the malleable metals to as thin a sheet as possible.

Unlike other civilizations these metals were less a form of monetary value and more an artisan material. Gold was used to represent the sun with its radiance, where as the lustre of silver was to represent the moon shine.

The Spaniards apparently had to melt down a greater volume of these artworks to gain the weight of bullion they required due to this use of thin metal sheets.

Other collections

The museum also houses the somewhat controversial but immensely popular collection of pre-Columbian erotica in a separate gallery. Visitors were recommended to explore it though we had neither the time nor the inclination so joined the taxi queue and in the gathering dusk we headed back to the hotel.

Peruvian cocktail

I had my first Peruvian Pisco Sour at the hotel bar that night.It was a complimentary drink which was a well balance of sourness and brandy flavours and a refreshing end to the day.

In hindsight I should have bought some Pisco brandy while in Peru and although you can substitute it with other brandys its not quite the same for some reasons outlined here. Its quite difficult to find in singapore or outside south america for that matter.

You can find the full pisco sour recipe here, but essentially the cocktail is a combination of:

  • Pisco brandy
  • Lemon juice
  • Egg whites

The idea of consuming raw egg-white in a cocktail might sound repulsive but it somehow balances the taste well. Not quite sure how I’d do this at home and avoid poisoning myself with salmonella.

I’d had the cocktail in Chile as well as in Argentina. Chile and Peru both declare the brandy to be a unique to their heritage.

Early night

We didn’t have an urge to explore lima by night (given that we didn’t have the energy by this time to be on guard as the lonely planet suggested), so we gave the cathedral and some of the sites of the historic quarter of lima a miss. The colonial building in this area were apparently some of the best preserved in the region but we’d already covered similar architectures in Cuzco and Salta. The cathedral housed the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of the incas which was of some minor interest to a history buff such as myself.

We had an early morning flight to catch to Santiago, Chile the following day so we booked a cab and turned in for the night.


Museo larco is a must-see for a culture/history buff and given we had less than a day in lima I thought it an optimal use of the time. Taxis are quite cheap in Lima though it’s advisable you get the hotel/restaurant/museum to call one for you as hailing cabs off the street can be a dicey affair.

If you have more time in the city its suggested you explore:

  • Rich fusion seafood cuisine
  • Ancient stone pyramid uncovered in the sands near the lima beach
  • Walkabout the Historic quarter (also considered very unsafe after dark)