Day trip to the oldest city in the New World, Caral (3 nov)

It’s a Thursday afternoon and I was sitting in my class “desarrollo del talento” when the teacher brought up there would be no classes that Friday (coincidentally the first day we could officially travel). The first thing that came to my mind was that it would be perfect to go on a day trip to somewhere. With a google search of “best day trips from Lima” I decided I wanted to go to Caral, which is the oldest city in the New World. ‘Great idea’, I thought, ‘only 170km away!’. Of course I forgot that transportation in Lima, and Peru in general, isn’t that great as in Europe. There are no fast highways where you can speed up to 130km/h. In stead, Peru’s roads are either on the edge of cliffs (in the desert or the mountains) or zig zagging through towns. 

Me and two other exchange students left Lima at 7 a.m. and arrived in Barranca at about 10:30 a.m., from there we took a taxi to Supe where we had some delicious smoothies and “arroz con leche” as breakfast. We bought some bananas in a local market and got some cookies to get us through the afternoon in Caral. As we were walking through town to get to the place where the “colectivos” were, people had already noticed us. Seeing as we were the only foreigners walking around, it was pretty obvious we wanted to get to Caral. One strange guy kept insisting he could take us to the archeological site, but at this point we just wanted to ask around to get some good prices so it was getting pretty annoying. Luckily we managed to get rid of the guy and we found another “colectivo” that would bring us to Caral for only 7 soles each. 

Plaza de Armas in Barranca.

The road to Caral was through the valley, which made for an awesome ride with mountains of sand while sometimes passing by some houses or people working on the fields. (On the fields they were planting all kinds of things like aji, strawberries, granadas, maracuya,…) We specifically asked to drop us off at the bridge from where you had to walk in stead of dropping us off at the site itself, because we thought it would be nicer way to walk a little bit than just driving everywhere and it is less expensive. We were so glad we did, because the landscape was amazing. The taxi driver also proposed that he could wait for us while we were doing the tour, but we said we didn’t want that, which was a pretty stupid decision if you ask me right now. Seeing as we went there on a weekday, there was literally no one else except for us and two Uruguayan women. There also weren’t any taxis just driving around in the middle of the desert that we could take back once the tour ended (in the weekend there would have been). If it wasn’t for the fact that we were able to go with the two women from Uruguay who’s chauffeur was waiting for them, I’m doubtful we would have gotten to the busstation in time. They also needed to get to Barranca, so it all ended up perfectly.

On the way.

In Caral we got a guided tour to the ancient ruins, and it was nothing less than breath taking. Just imagining that the rocks and structures we were looking at were more than 5000 years old was pretty amazing. It was a great experience except for the fact that the guide didn’t even make eye contact with us for most of the tour and would always be talking directed at the two women from Uruguay. He probably thought we didn’t speak Spanish, even though we were asking questions… in Spanish. 

Our guide in the archeological site of Caral.

After the tour we got a ride back to Barranca with the two women. That’s when I realized the Spanish pronunciation in Uruguay is different than in Peru, which kind of confused me at times. Because we were so lucky to get a ride, we got some extra time in Barranca and explored the Plaza de Armas a little bit. After eating in a shady little restaurant we had to rush back to the busstation because it was already 6:45 p.m. and we got tickets for the last bus that leaves at 7 p.m., but not before buying some pieces of sugar cane to try out. With a mototaxi we got to the busstation and were met with what I would call the best bus ride of my life. We paid 25 soles (6-7€) for four hours on the road in one of the most awesome seats I have ever had on a bus. Leg space, leg support, USB ports, super soft cushioning, TV’s in front of us, headphone ports and an awesome toilet were pure luxury.

Due to rush hour we arrived in Lima pretty late, but of the many things that could have gone wrong, nothing really did. It was a good a good (and lucky) day. 

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