Living it up in Peru

By Clifford E. Jernigan

My wife, Berdine, and I took an independent trip to Peru, Feb. 21-March 3, 2013. We flew on LAN, nine hours nonstop from San Francisco to Lima on a Boeing 767. Business class had flat beds. 

We felt safe everywhere in Peru. Lima, a city of about 11 million, was a real surprise. While it has its share of poverty, it was much more prosperous than we had imagined, with good hotels, great scenery (especially in the Miraflores beach area) and wonderful restaurants. Traffic could be very congested.

We stayed in the upscale San Isidro area at the Westin Lima Hotel (Calle Las Begonias 450, San Isidro, Lima, Peru; phone +51 2015000, fax 2015051), a new hotel with a great staff. Our room cost about $250 a night.

Lima has become known for its fusion food (combinations of Peruvian and Chinese or Japanese). Seafood was one of the highlights, including shrimp, calamari and sea bass. We enjoyed Pisco Sours, a popular Peruvian predinner drink, as well as Peruvian beer and even Peruvian wine. 

We found great restaurants. Our favorite was Lima 27 (Santa Luisa 295, San Isidro; phone 221 5822 or 421 9084) — good ceviche, lomo saltado, Chilean sea bass and Pisco Sours. With wine, about $80 per person.

Astrid & Gaston (Calle Cantuarias 175, Miraflores, Lima, Peru; phone +51 242 5387,) — good seafood, such as different types of shrimp. With wine, dinner cost about $80 each.

At Maras (Lima; phone +51 201 5023), in our hotel, we had wonderful squid in black ink, ceviche and Pisco Sours. $80 each, with wine.

El Hornero (Francisco Masias 505, San Isidro, Lima; phone 222 2610), near the Westin Lima, had good barbecue.

While Lima is located at sea level, Cuzco is another story, sitting at more than 11,000 feet. To prepare, we took altitude pills. We also went to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, at 9,000 feet, and Machu Picchu, at 7,500 feet, and did not have a problem with altitude sickness.

A driver in a private car met us at the Cuzco airport. We spent several days in the Sacred Valley at the architecturally beautiful Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa (Avenida Ferrocarril S/N, Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Peru; phone +51 84 581 777), a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel, for about $250 a night. With great rooms, great views and great dining, this hotel was the high point of the hotels we stayed in.

In Cuzco we had a great dining experience at El Tupay at Hotel Monasterio (Calle Palacio 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cuzco, Peru; phone +51 84 60 4000). Dinner with wine cost about $100 a person.

From the Sacred Valley, we traveled two hours by train on the Hiram Bingham (about $400 a person, round trip) to a meeting place short of Machu Picchu where a landslide still blocks the tracks. After a 20-minute uphill-and-downhill walk, we climbed onto a bus for the 30-minute ride up the winding road to Machu Picchu and our hotel.

The Sanctuary Lodge (phone +51 84 21 1038), an Orient-Express Hotel, is billed as a luxury hotel. With our room costing $1,180 per night, this lodge was the disappointment of the trip. 

The service and food were okay, but the rooms — at about 10 by 10 feet plus a small bathroom — were drab, dull, dreary and dated. The grounds appeared not to have had attention in weeks. I would not recommend the Sanctuary Lodge.

Machu Picchu was impressive, but we did not get the spiritual high that some people experience. 

One item of note — the Sanctuary Lodge did not have accessible room accommodations or an elevator. Guests had to walk up several flights of steps, some without handrails, to their rooms. 

In fact, throughout Machu Picchu and in Cuzco, the streets and steps were uneven and could be difficult. Usually, there were no handrails. 

The Cuzco airport was somewhat of a challenge, with steeply graded passageways and no handrails between the plane and the terminal. As for the airports at Lima and Cuzco, there generally was a jetway to and from the plane, which made travel easier.

All in all, we had a nice trip.


Woodside, CA