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Day Trip from Lima: A unique ecosystem, pre-Inca sites and hot springs

We have said it before, but we are convinced that Lima is very much underestimated as a tourist destination. Both by tourists and by locals. Without its international airport, most tourists would rather fly straight to Cusco.

The colonial architecture of the historic center, the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, the many pre-inca archaeological sites. But also several great museums to the diversity of its people and its amazing restaurants. Lima is so much more than an obligatory overnight stop between flights.

But, we admit it, Lima can be tiring. It is a bustling and lively city, but also very busy with terrible traffic. That’s why you should consider an escape from the city, a day trip from Lima. You say, Lima is a city in the middle of the desert, there’s nothing worth your time nearby? Think again! There are plenty of options and there’s something for everyone.

We wanted to make a list of five day trips from Lima, but we easily came up with 10 and couldn’t choose. The first one we’ll cover in this blog post is the Lomas de Lachay in the Huaura Valley and surroundings.

The green oasis of Lomas de Lachay on a day trip from Lima
© Christian Cruzado/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Day trip from Lima 1: A green paradise with a unique ecosystem, hot springs and archaeological sites

Leaving Lima seems to take forever. The apartment buildings, shops, garages and constructions just seem to go on and on. It’s anything but boring for visitors because it brings you to areas of Lima you wouldn’t visit if you just fly in and out of the airport. The Panamericana highway crosses the city and follows the Peruvian coastline all the way until the border with Ecuador (and then continues until Alaska!). It’s the main road of Peru, but don’t expect anything similar to a North-American highway. Most of the time, there are just two lanes.

Then all of a sudden, there’s nothing but sandy desert hills and the Pacific Ocean that appears and disappears. You can finally see with your own eyes that Lima is one of the largest desert cities. At first, the landscape is intriguing but just when it starts to get a bit monotonous, there’s green for the first time since leaving Miraflores. Unlike the green in Miraflores, this green is all natural.

You’ve arrived to the Lachay National Reserve or Lomas de Lachay. It’s a small green paradise with an ecosystem unique in the world: the Lomas Costeras or the Coastal Hills. It’s not the rain who is to thank for this green surprise but the persistent fog and mist, blown from the cold Pacific Ocean in to the extremely arid desert of Peru. That’s why this unique ecosystem is also called “Oasis of Mist.” In addition, this national reserve of about 5,000 hectares shelters and protects 146 species of wild plants and 60 species of birds.

This daytrip is perfect for nature lovers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Lima for a few hours and discover this National Reserve’s unique flora and fauna, some unfortunately on their way to extinction. It is a very fragile ecosystem, which has suffered from years of overgrazing and deforestation. But, fortunately, nowadays much more attention is paid to the protection of its biodiversity. Among the most notable, you can find diverse species of hummingbirds, kestrels, eagles, mountain parakeets and other endemic birds such as the Andean tinamou; as well as geckos, bats, the Peruvian desert fox, the pampas cat and occasionally the puma.

The unique ecosystem of Lomas de Lachay, just an hour from Lima
© Imagenes del Perú

Before exploring the reserve itself, you can learn more about the fauna and flora you will see. Then you can choose one of the three trekking routes: “El Zorro Circuit” (20 minutes), “Las Taras Circuit” (1 hour) and “La Perdiz Circuit” (2 hours).

There’s also a very important lesson we can learn from this Reserve. As we all know, a lack of fresh water is increasingly an important issue around the world. The native flora and fauna of Lachay have adapted over the years to survive long dry seasons. Here, even spider webs serve to capture moisture. Perhaps this could teach us something about how to tackle the water issue sustainably.

But this area of Lima Province, the so-called Norte Chico (the Little North), has much more to offer that can be combined with a hike in Lachay Reserve.

Hot Springs, Archaeological Sites and Great Food!

The city of Huacho, also known as “the city of hospitality”, is just a few minutes away. For those that want to add some culture to their day, Huachu has beautiful cultural heritage. But also the foodies will be happy with the delicious local food, which is a lot cheaper than in Lima. Huacho also has nice beaches and beautiful wetlands. These wetlands, such as Albufera Paraiso and the Albufera de Medio Mundo Regional Conservation Area, with its flamingos and many other kinds of migratory birds are the perfect place for birdwatching enthusiasts and anyone else really, because the birds offer an impressive spectacle.

A visit to the coastal wetlands is perfect on a day trip from Lima for birdwatchers

If you want to switch the coast for a more mountainous landscape, the town of Churín will be your cup of tea. Go there if you either want to relax or if you’re up for an adventure. In other words, there’s something for everyone if you choose to visit Churín on your day trip from Lima.

Churín’s beautiful Andean landscapes and relaxing hot springs, from relaxing warm pools to very hot and medicinal waters, make it the perfect retreat from busy city life in Lima. Mamahuarmi Hot Springs, for instance, have several outdoor pools surrounded by green areas. The Springs of Huancahuasi and Picoy have a more rustic appearance and even higher temperatures. Each have different concentrations of minerals, so depending on what you’re looking for, medicinal effects or just plain old relaxing time, you can pick the right one for you. For those that are looking for something more active, Churín is also the starting point for treks in the Raura and Huayhuash mountain ranges.

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about our history and archaeology buffs on this day trip from Lima. Nearby, in the peasant community of San Bartolomé de Curay, you can visit an Inca archaeological complex while the community of San Francisco de Huacho does even better with the Pre-Inca site of Antamarca. Yes, you’re not imagining it, practically every district of Peru has its own Pre-Columbian archaeological site. And if they haven’t, it has probably not been discovered yet.

Something else that every Peruvian district has, is its own typical food specialties. Don’t leave Churín without trying one of theirs, such as trout, guinea pig, pachamanca and the famous “Pari” or stone soup.

Typical Peruvian dishes on a day trip from Lima
© GRAU 275 Restobar Fusión/Facebook

Practical info about this day trip from Lima?

Contact us if you want to know how to get there or if you want tips or suggestions. We can organise this trip for you, if you prefer.