Peru has been my dream destination for a while - perfect combination of diverse nature, history, architecture, adventure and surf. Now that I have a few months to explore the corners of South America I decided to start here. Setting off to Lima on the 31st of December, right in time for the New Year.

I stayed in a pretty neighbourhood of Miraflores that has a scenic park hugging the pacific.

This place is lovely during the evening with the setting sun engulfing everything in it's warm light, families enjoying the evenings and cooling temperatures.

This part is called the lover's park where people gather to watch the sunset and enjoy the ocean breeze. I found it very refreshing how everyone seemed to be open to showing affection for each other. The whole place had a great vibe.

My favourite part of the city happened to be Baranco neighbourhood. It has a romantic feel of withering beauty - full of colonial style buildings, greenery and some beautiful street art.

Having spent 5 days in Lima it was time to head further north to hit the beach. First destination Huanchaco. There are tons of bus companies in Peru and some offer real luxury travel. The seats incline to make the bed, which makes night travel very bearable and actually even comfortable. I took Cruz del Sur and SIFA during my travels to far. Cruz del Sur being the nicer option of the two. I have also heard of a few issues fellow travellers had with SIFA, personally did not encounter any though.

And here we are - finally the beach!

Huanchaco is a small village on the coast. It can hardly be called pretty with it's rumbling buildings, Pan-American passing right next to the beach and all the dirt laying around. It did have it's charm though and it is famous for the surf. The water is pretty cold, even colder than in Lima, depending on the current.

There are two main breaks in the city - the beach break shown here and the point break to the left of the pier. The wave is nice but it was pretty small during my stay, which was the case for the whole coast. Huanchaco is also next to Playa Chicama, which is a beautiful spot but needs the right swell to work. So do check ahead. It was flat this time around.

Frog's Hostel - I loved this couch at the entrance, it was as if taken out of time and space. Perfect setting for a short film.

and this is what I would also do one day - minivan trip through the South America, the best way to explore this side of the world. Who wants to join?)

Right next to Huanchaco one can see the ruins of Chan Chan. This used to be the capital of the Chimor empire from 900 to 1470. The ruins are in a very good state and are definitely worth a visit when in the area.

After a few days in Huanchaco I am moving further north in the hope of finding warmer waters and some beautiful waves. Another bus ride takes me to the village of Mancora - a touristic spot on the coast with plenty of night life and a very nice left hand break. This is usually a bit too touristic for my liking but it did provide a perfect base as I could take some Spanish classes, surf and explore the neighbouring areas from here. The wave is really good, but way too busy. You would have to fight off the locals and learners to get one!

The striking thing about the village is the amount of colour you see in the midst of dust and dirt. This seems to be a common feature for Peru and does make it a photographer's dream.

The beach got completely full over the weekends with the local tourists. January and February are the busiest months of the year, so do make sure you have bus tickets at least a few days in advance. Accommodation was easy to find though.

and this is my favourite part of town, slightly further away from all the hustle and bustle of Malecon :)

During sunset, it is well worth taking a short stroll along the beach towards Punta Ballenas and the Marina.

A popular local attraction is a visit to hot springs located a little outside of town. It is about 40min drive with a motor taxi. We decided to head down there just before sunset to catch some nice views and in the hopes of having the place to ourselves.

One can see the hot spring in the middle between the hills. It is basically a small bath that appeared during oil drilling. When we arrived, there were still a few people inside, so we did a short climb to the nearby hills to enjoy the view and entered the bath when the sun has already set. It was the most beautiful view of the night sky I experienced since a long time. Filled with stars and softened by the mist rising from the warm water. Sadly no photos as it was too dark. The entrance is free and there are no facilities. It is just literally a mud bath, but that is exactly the charm.

And I am on the road again. This time to the village of Lobitos. Lobitos is a town that was solely developed for the petroleum industry at the very end of the 19th century. Following the second world war and the military coup in Peru, the oil fields were nationalised and the place started to die down. By 2005 surfers discovered Lobitos perfect left hander and kick-started a new tourism era. I got connected with some guys here via the surfers in Mancora, who are supposed to fix me up with a place to stay. They turned out to be these huge Peruvian guys with big hearts and a great knowledge of the area.

Surfer getting ready for the evening session.
There are a few breaks in the area - the most famous point break Lobitos, which is also usually the busiest, Piscina and Generales and some others if you are prepared to drive a little further out.

Some decaying soldier barracks still left from the times of heightened military presence, Lobitos being considered a strategic base by the Peruvian government up to the 90s.

After a few days it was time to go back as I decided to pay a visit to Galapagos islands, which I missed last time I was in Ecuador. The bus passed the city of Talara, again not a pretty city, but definitely with it's character.

Beautiful scenery sadly way too often spoiled by plastic and rubbish. Particularly interesting here with the backdrop of the windmills.

And at the end some photos of my favourite foods. One thing about Peru is - the food is going to blow your mind away! And this applies to both, posh restaurants in Lima and small stands in the villages. It is fresh, tasty, full of flavour and colour.

Nets stop - Ecuador - to pay visit to the Galapagos.
After that I will be back to Peru to explore the south.
Stay tuned for part 2.

And here is a small map with the places I visited, hotels and some of my favourite food spots. In no way extensive, just the things that stuck in my mind.