Peru: 21 travel tips from Lima to the Colca Canyon

A journey through Peru, beyond Machu Picchu and Inca Trail? BRIGITTE editor Sonja Niemann discovered the underrated capital Lima and wandered in the legendary Colca Canyon. But her heart lost it to the alpacas – and a bit to the national drink. Your travel tips.

Then a Pisco Sour!

Arequipa tastes like Chicha Morada. Anyway, the purple, alcohol-free lemonade is the first thing that photographer Marc and I drink during our visit to the old colonial city in southern Peru. “Tastes delicious, what’s that made of?” – “Purple corn, among other things,” explains the waiter. But not fermented like the bad-tasting corn “beer” that is otherwise available in South America as “Chicha”.

Marc and I landed in Lima the day before, but we left Peru’s huge metropolis on the left – we pick it up for later – and moved on to Arequipa after a short night – despite its almost one million inhabitants comparatively contemplative, of three Flanked by volcanoes, it lies at 2300 meters in the Andes.

Alone in Arequipa there are quite a lot of sights

Now we live in the middle of the old center and can walk most of the sights on foot. And there are quite a lot of that. The Spanish conquerors of the 16th century may not have left anything good in their campaigns (at least not the Incas), but their colonial architecture is, you have to say, pretty pretty.

The most impressive buildings are, of course, the churches, one stands next to the other, each one has its own character, and actually we can not get enough of it … Until I realize at some point that I have no idea, whether the Church of San Francisco or La Merced or La Compañia was the one with the great Baroque façade, in which, between chubby angels, corn cobs were interestingly displayed.

Fluffy It’s impossible not to fall in love with a baby alpaca …

Speaking of corn: “Marc, do we want to take a break and have a drink, maybe a Chicha Morada?” – “We should still look at the monastery of Santa Catalina.” – “But only briefly.” We stay for hours. The huge monastery, which occupies a whole street, is a separate, secluded world full of peace. It is also a reassuring thought that the approximately 20 nuns who still live here have chosen this tranquility themselves – in earlier times it was common for affluent families to send one of their daughters behind the monastery walls at the age of twelve, often forever.

The sight of Juanita in her icy glass coffin makes me unexpectedly enter the next day. An Inca girl who was sacrificed to the gods in the 15th century, say: killed in a ceremony. Her mummified corpse is on display today at the Museum Santuarios Andinos. The museum guide tells that she was probably told before that it was an honor to have been selected for such a death, and she was drugged with lots of Chicha, the real one, with alcohol. It does not make it better.

Altitude sickness? Alpacas and coca tea save me

We see the first alpaca herd on the edge of the road connecting Arequipa with the Colca Valley, which is about three hours’ drive away. And otherwise, the ride is adventurous, because the pass winds up to up to 4900 meters, which is higher than the Mont Blanc.

I still think that I do not mind so much, because these insanely cute animals distract me right and left. But it was probably more of the coca tea, which thankfully Peru has in every inn, helped to revitalize, help against headaches, fatigue, and especially prevent altitude sickness.

We want to go hiking in the Colca Canyon, but already the way there is full of highlights: Not only because of the alpacas, but also the condors, which you can see at the aptly named lookout point “Cruz del Condor” majestically circling over a gorge.

The whole thing is so impressive that neither the numerous coaches nor the cassette recorders of the souvenir salesmen, from which “El Condor pasa” blares, can do something to the grandeur of the moment. I make a hundred cell phone photos of circling condors and then one more of a woman in traditional dress leading a small alpaca on a leash. (I can not help it if all stereotypes are true.)

Hiking paradise The Colca Canyon is criss-crossed by many paths

Unique but exhausting: hiking in Colca Canyon

The approximately 100-kilometer-long Colca Canyon is criss-crossed by a variety of paths, the most popular walk leads from 3200 meters down into the gorge to the Colca River, where you then sleep in the so-called “oasis Sangalle” in very simple huts. Then it goes back the next day. “It gets a bit more exhausting”, explains our guide Martin, as we sit comfortably together after a nice day of hiking in the “oasis” with the evening beer. “We ran down 1200 meters in the canyon today, so we have to bring it all up tomorrow.” I assure cocky, that was no problem, I would be fit and jogging around the Alster and such. Yes: As a North German flatlander, I really have no idea what height means.

Up and down author Sonja Niemann hiking in the Colca Canyon

I figure it out when I have to take a break every fifteen minutes the next morning, and locals passing by on donkeys pitifully offer to take me along. Only the coca tea, which I drink after an eternity (in truth: three hours) finally up in the village of Cabanaconde, brings me something back on its feet.

I would really like to take a few leaves to Germany. That, and a baby alpaca. But I’m afraid that both are not allowed.

“About Pisco, you have to know the following,” says Ricardo Carpio: “First, Pisco is not a grappa, it’s NOT made from pomace, it’s made from fermented grape must. Second, it’s fine to order a Pisco Sour, but not in Germany . “ Because there, says Ricardo, one would usually get a good Pisco (“standard brands only”), on the other hand, the German bars would usually do without the fresh protein, which must be pure for the foamy consistency, and instead use a replacement product from the bag: “That’s not comparable at all.”

Ricardo knows what he’s talking about, after all he owns a piscobar in Lima. And the Pisco Sour, which he has mixed us, is so good that the stay in Peru’s capital was worth it for that reason alone.

In Lima, I quickly find my favorite places

For many tourists to Peru, Lima is still the 10 million juggernaut on the sea that you want to leave as quickly as possible to travel to the Inca city of Cusco, Machu Picchu or Trekking in the Andes. Since the Peruvian celebrity chef Gastón Acurio made modern Peruvian cuisine known around the world 20 years ago with his starred restaurant “Astrid & Gastón” and now everyone knows what Ceviche is (Lime juice marinated raw fish), Lima is at least on the agenda of the Foodies landed.

Otherwise, the metropolis is still more of a second-to-third attraction: There are good museums, but none of world class, and the historic colonial buildings are either rarely used (in the UNESCO World Heritage listed, but abundantly dead old town) or are many times demolished and replaced modern skyscrapers (in the lively Miraflores).

The city tour with our guide Klaus, who grew up in Miraflores, reminds a bit of these photos in local newspapers, where people sadly point with their fingers at things that are no longer there: “Here was a beautiful old cinema, there I am Seen in 1977, Star Wars, but that has been going on for a long time. “ – “This was once a roller-skating rink on which we played as children.” – “Behind this fence hides one of the most beautiful houses, but it is empty for a long time, now it is demolished and there is still a skyscraper there.”

Old next to new street in Limas district Miraflores

And yet I notice more and more by the minute that Lima, in all his unrepentant and unpredictable nature, likes me immensely. This is a big city that lives and breathes, and after each turn I discover new favorite places: the small green Kennedy Park with its sun-kissing cats. The old fashioned mom and pop shops. The sea view from the “Parque del Amor”, which is intentionally so cheesy with its monumental statue of a kissing couple, that it is really romantic again.

Above all, the Barranco district, which with its colorful little houses, narrow streets and the palm-fringed square looks like an idyllic village in the middle of the million-metropolis, did it to me. Okay, like a pretty hip village: everywhere street-art, on the open-air market, young creatives sell self-designed t-shirts or cool-labeled natural cosmetics, and behind every other door hides a gallery or studio where young women hang out Dealing with their sexuality in drawings or making boys in check shirts large sculptures of skulls. And of course there are the coolest bars and nicest pubs in Barranco. In the “Ayahuasca” – Bar even Pisco Sour with coca leaves, we have heard. We have to go there!

Maritime lighthouse in Limas district Miraflores

… and I learn to surf there too (a bit)

Klaus advised me to take a surf lesson on one of Lima’s narrow city beaches, which consists mainly of pebbles and behind which runs a multi-lane main road. That sounded a little tempting, I’ve never surfed before. But one should try everything, and therefore I am standing around a little later in a wetsuit, the big city in the back, the sea in front of me, and do some warm-up exercises with my surf instructor Matew. “That’ll be fun,” says Matew. I doubt.

We paddle out a bit, Matew close to me, and eventually he shoves me in front of the next rolling wave, I paddle and paddle, jump on my feet … And then it does not manage to get up completely, but “surf” in awkward squatting position. But my ambition is aroused. I want to go again! To make a long story short: I will not be able to get up until the end of the lesson (I’m talking to Matew and it’s just the sore muscles of Colca Canyon). But it really is fun, and it’s really worth trying everything out.

After the lesson, I’m thirsty. I find a stall with freshly squeezed juices: guava, passion fruit, mango, but also unknown fruits like tuna, tumbo, guanabana, cherimoya … everything sounds delicious. I want to try everything. I think I have to come back soon.

Peru: The Travel Tips for Lima, Arequipa and the Colca Canyon


Lima will u. a from KLM (via Amsterdam). In Peru itself, long-distance coaches are the standard means of transport, but on long journeys – such as those between Lima and Arequipa, where the journey takes at least 15 hours – it is worthwhile to take a domestic flight, for example. B. with Latam Airlines.


The historic center of Lima with the Monasterio and the Government Palace, which has even been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is interesting to visit, but almost extinct in the evening. It is recommended, a hotel z. For example, in the districts of Miraflores or Barranco to search, both of which are located directly on the sea, at night as safe and where you can eat well and go out


Lima Wari . Charming colonial house with mini front yard. The colorful rooms are simply furnished, the most affordable is the bathroom in the hallway. But very friendly atmosphere and great location in Barranco. Not only for the low price top. DZ / F from 35 Euro (Av Miguel Grau 723 – 725, Tel. 01/586 81 22, ).

Hotel B. For those who like it more noble (and more expensive), also in Barranco: The gleaming white villa has 17 stylish rooms, an excellent bar and attentive service. DZ / F from 370 Euro (Jirón Sáenz Peña 204, Tel. 01/2 06 08 00, ).


macz . If you can not make it to the Amazon, you will at least get an impression of the local cuisine – even if it is the refined urban variation of it. It cooks here at the highest level: for example, Patarashca, grilled fish in bamboo leaves (about 18 euros). In Miraflores, further branch in Surco (Av La Paz 1079, Tel. 01/221 9393, ).

Chic and beautiful In the restaurant “amaZ” in Miraflores, food and ambience are in tune

Al Toke Pez . An inconspicuous little snack in Surquillo – and the best classic ceviche we ate in Peru, for about 5 euros. Open only at lunchtime until 15.30. No reservations, no phone number, no website but can be found on Facebook (Av. Angamos Este 886).

El Tio Mario . Not for vegetarians, because Mario serves mainly rustic “anticuchos”, grilled beef heart skewers (from about 8 euros). Centrally located next to the “Bridge of Sighs” in Barranco (Jr. Zepita 214, Tel. 01/477 03 01, ).

Fiesta . One of the top restaurants in Latin America. It specializes in the cuisine of Peru’s north, and it is worth asking the attentive, knowledgeable service for recommendations – everything is excellent anyway. Above all, the hot ceviche (about 29 euros), barely grilled over coal, is out of this world (Av Reducto 1278, Tel. 01/242 90 09, ).


Ayahuasca . Schicki bar in Barranco, which really deserves the adjective “chic”: it stretches across several rooms in a magnificent manor house with courtyard, very “Greater Gatsby” (Av. San Martin 130, ) ,

Juanito de Barranco . For more than 70 years, this down-to-earth pub, whose walls are covered with theatrical and concert posters, is the meeting place for bohemians and people from the neighborhood. And rightly so: ice-cold beer, delicious sandwiches, pleasant music, nice people (Av Miguel Grau 270).

Piscobar Petit Thouars . Chef Ricardo Carpio can not only mix the perfect Pisco Sour, but also explain which pisco will match the delicacies like Wantan’s or mango salad, which are also very good (Av Petit Thouars 5390, ).

Sour makes fun You can drink Pisco but also pure


Monasterio de San Francisco . The (slightly morbid) highlight of this 17th-century monastery is the crooked catacombs with bones and skulls estimated at 75 000 skeletons. To visit only in the context of a guided tour, which is offered in English and Spanish. Approximately 4 euros (Plazuela San Francisco, ).

Cycling on Sundays . A dream: Sunday mornings until 14 o’clock are locked some large main traffic axes like the Avenida Arequipa for cars. There are also improvised bike rental stations.

Surfing . The narrow city beaches of Lima may not come to mind first when you think about surfing. But it’s still fun! And there are also surf schools, z. B. Corzo at Playa Makaha in Miraflores. Single hour approx. 26 Euro ( ).



Casa Andina Premium . The Peruvian “Casa Andina” chain has hotels of various price ranges in Arequipa, this one is particularly comfortable and is located in historic walls right by the Monasterio Santa Catalina. Very friendly service and excellent breakfast buffet in a nice courtyard. DZ / F from 115 Euro (Calle Ugarte 403, Tel. 054/22 69 07, ).

Casona Solar . Beautiful house from the year 1702. Central location in the old town, green courtyard, great value for money. DZ / F from 60 Euro (Consuelo 116, Tel. 054/22 89 91, ).


Chicha . The chef Gastón Acurio was with his restaurant “Astrid & Gastón” in Lima the best known pioneer of the new Peruvian cuisine. Meanwhile it has a Gastroimperium, to which also the “Chicha” belongs: Classical dishes of the Andes modern interpreted, for example “Causa” (a kind stratified mashed potato, which is filled eg with fish, about 10 euros) or refined stuffed rocoto, a spicy variety of peppers (Santa Catalina 210, tel. 054/28 73 60, ).

Zig Zag . Grilled fish and meat on volcanic rock (three kinds of meat with beef, chicken and alpaca from approx. 13 Euro). Nice ambience, especially the iron spiral staircase designed by Gustave Eiffel is an eye-catcher. Very friendly service (Calle Zela 210, Tel. 054/20 60 20, ).

La Benita de los Claustros . In the quaint Picanteria – that’s what you call lunch with regional home cooking – you can try traditional dishes at long tables: Ocopa (a sauce), the salad “Solterito de Queso”, and yes, “Cuy”, guinea pigs, are also available , 8-course tasting menu approx. 42 Euro (Calle Moran, Tel. 051/9 92 34 72 72, ).

Zingaro . Well-known address for good, fine cuisine. Anyone who does not dare to order alpaca steak (about 12 euros) or guinea pigs may dare (San Francisco 309, Tel. 054/21 76 62, ).


Monasterio de Santa Catalina . Even if you think that you have actually looked at enough places of worship, this huge monastery founded in 1579 is a must. You can walk alone, but the guides – also in German – are excellent. Entry fee about 11 Euro, tour about 5 Euro (Santa Catalina 301, ).

Mercado San Camilo . The market has almost every type of fruit and vegetable that Peru has to offer. But you can also eat sheephead soup, buy sacrificial dishes and stock up on cocaine leaves for altitude sickness (Calle San Camilo) before traveling on.

Museo Santuarios Andinos . The Inca mummy Juanita is stored in this museum. To visit it is only in the context of a tour, at the beginning of a 20-minute film about their history and their discovery (La Merced 110, ).


The Colca Canyon is located 100 miles north of Arequipa and offers breathtaking scenery. It is best experienced during a two- to three-day hike that offers travel agencies in Arequipa a guided tour including travel. All tours stop on the round trip at Cruz del Condor.

Wonderful views A view of the Colca Valley, here at the village of Yanque

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The most commonly used route El Clásico is called: It starts at the viewpoint San Miguel near the village of Cabanaconde and runs steadily down to the Rio Colca and then on to the “oasis” Sangalle, where there are very simple accommodations. The next day you have a direct steep ascent of 1200 meters in front of you, until you land back in the village of Cabanaconde.

You can do the tour on your own, Cabanaconde as a starting point of the hike is public Buses available, simple accommodation and dining options are available in the villages on the way. But you should take a lot of water and a little Spanish, to ask if necessary. Individual hikers also need the “Boleto Turistico”, the fee of about 18 euros u. a. used for the infrastructure maintenance of the canyon.

If you want to stay a day or two in the Colca Valley after hiking and want to live a little more luxurious: The Colca Lodge, a sprawling resort near the village of Yanque, has u. a. a hot spring only accessible to guests and a spa. DZ / F from 160 Euro (Tel. 054/28 21 77, ).



< p> The area code of Peru is 0051.

Fluffy It’s impossible not to fall in love with a baby alpaca …

Wandering Paradise The Colca Canyon is criss-crossed by many paths

Up and down Author Sonja Niemann hiking in the Colca Canyon

Old beside new Street in Limas district Miraflores

Maritime Lighthouse in Limas district Miraflores

Chic and beautiful In the restaurant ” amaZ “in Miraflores, food and ambience are right

Sour makes fun You can drink Pisco as well

Hey The view is clear A view of the Colca Valley, here at the village of Yanque

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