On the 31st of March we crossed the border in to Peru. We used a small inland border and everything was relaxed and easy. Although Kilian had to walk back from the Peruvian side to the Ecuadorian immigration office because the officer had forgotten to put an exit stamp in his passport (honestly, he had one job…) But it also shows that you need to check everything regarding border crossings, just to be sure. The TIP was issued without a problem and, with Kilian sitting right next to officer, eyeing the laptop screen, also without any errors. So everything went pretty much as expected. What we hadn’t expected was the culture shock we were in for.

We knew that Ecuador has a relatively good economy and infrastructure compared to several other countries in Latin America and it is also more stable (both politically and economically) than most other countries here. We knew that Peru is poorer and less stable than Ecuador, but having travelled through countries like Honduras and Colombia we thought we knew what we were in for. Oh boy, were we wrong! Driving in to Peru was a real culture shock. According to most websites, Peru is not considered a third world country but a developing one. However it’s economy is not (much) better than that of a third world country, but because of it’s status they don’t get the same help as a third world country. And it sure does show! No doubt the recent months of demonstrations have made things worse. And I should mention that we drove in to the North of Peru, where there are no major cities or tourist industry. But we were still shocked. Lots of people here live in a slum with houses build from leftover wood and other debris. There is trash everywhere, you can’t really comprehend it until you have been here, but we have seen cleaner landfills. Only the main road is paved and not always. The North of Peru is rather dry and sandy so there is mud everywhere after some rain. The sewage system sometimes overflows and combined with the trash it makes for an “interesting” smell. The system for rainwater drainage also has trash in it and sometimes even dead animals, so then it is basically an open sewer. And often there is no drainage, causing roads to flood. This all makes for very unhygienic and unhealthy situation, and healthcare in Peru isn’t very good either. We have seen children going through the trash for whatever has any value or use. And to make things worse it has been raining an awful lot recently. Lots of green areas like a park are neglected although we did see some well maintained, expensive looking football fields with artificial grass… Quite a few people wear old and dirty clothes. Obviously a lot of people can’t afford a car so there are lots of tuk-tuks (here known as moto taxi) around, clogging up the already narrow roads. Roads that are in a very bad state.

Despite this poverty Peru isn’t a cheap country. Fuel is more expensive than in Ecuador and food is about the same price. We got some pre paid mobile internet which costs a whopping $2.5 per GB! We used about 30GB a month so we will have to find a way to reduce it. So I really wonder how people here survive, although I guess they don’t shop at a supermarket. Supermarkets also have less choice although this will probably change when we get to a major city. Products have less quality, despite the high prices. Getting somewhat clean water to do some laundry for example has already proven to be a problem and getting drinking water is also a bigger challenge here. But for that we can always go back to using a garrafon -a twenty litre water bottle- although it is not very convenient for us. Both in the mountains and near the coast a lot of roads have washed away due to rain. Roads are only repaired temporarily: one road was only usable for about 24 hours… In the short term it is simply too expensive to build roads that last, obviously in the long term these continual temporary repairs will be more expensive.

Climate wise, in May it is very hot near the seaside, sweat would drip in our eyes just preparing breakfast. We tried to drive in to the mountains where it is cooler, greener and cleaner. But in the month before we arrived there were many heavy rainfalls which caused a lot of landslides. This in turn caused many roads to be impassable. We had to turn around and drive back the same way we came, all three (!) mountain roads we could choose from were washed away.

The few people we talked to were friendly but otherwise people have ignored us so far. All in all our first impression of Peru is pretty bad and we miss Ecuador (and no we can’t go back, due to tourist visa restrictions). But we’re hoping this will change while we slowly drive South. Meanwhile we did manage to find a few wild camp spots that were not bad. And we managed to get a nice photo of the van in a flooded field.

Later on when we slowly made our way south, things got better. The mountain range in Peru is really nice. We drove the Canyon del Pato; a challenge to get there due to washed away roads, but it was well worth it. Then we drove around Huaraz and enjoyed several mountain lakes in April.

We visited Lima of course and after a short stretch along the coast we drove 80km into the desert to search for the lost Canyon, El Canyon de Perdidos. We saw the Palpa and Nasca lines, and needed to replace the front wheel bearings during a three day stop at a garage in Nasca. Then we returned to the mountains to discover the road through the Canyon Canete, which was a pleasant and beatiful surprise. We drove over the Altiplano, saw numerous Alpacas before we reached Cusco. All of this you can read and enjoy the pictures in our May blog.

And Finally we saw Macchu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Laguna Titicaca before we left Peru.

1 thought on “Peru”

  1. Hoe erg… de armoe. Als het vinden van drinkwater zo moeilijk is, ik zou dat wel spannend vinden. net als het contrast tussen jullie als rijke reizigers en de lokale arme bevolking/overheid. Succes, met jullie doorreis, hopelijk zit alles mee en komen jullie vlot in betere oorden. Dankjewel weer voor deze blogpost! Grtjs Ilona


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