The great race from Cusco to Quito


August 31, 2012 by Leah

Due to little snafus here and there (sold out buses, delayed flights, etc.), our itinerary was shifted by a few days, leaving us with only five days to get from Lima, Peru, to Quito, Ecuador. Since that’s a lot of ground to cover, especially by bus, it didn’t leave us much time to explore Ecuador. Turns out, six weeks really isn’t enough time to do four countries.

We planned to take a one and a half hour flight from Cusco to Lima in order to cross the Andes (the same trip takes nearly 24 hours on a bus). With only a 2 hour layover in Lima, we planned to take a 22-hour night bus to the beach town of Máncora. Unfortunately, our flight from Cusco was delayed and we missed our bus. So, we settled in to enjoy our unanticipated 24 hours in Lima.

When we got to Lima we visited the beautiful Hotel Bolivar, famous for their pisco sours. Pisco is a local and delicious grape brandy. A pisco sour is much like you would imagine, except it also includes egg whites. Basically, it’s delicious and it hits hard.

At 9 PM, the bar closed up and we found ourselves tipsy on the street surrounded by people and emergency vehicles. Turns out, we came to town on the night of a citywide earthquake preparedness drill. As we walked back towards the main plaza, we saw Lima’s FIMA equivalent in action, set up in a tent in the plaza outside the Presidential palace, surrounded by police in full riot gear.

So that was fun!

We stayed at a very unique hostel called the Hotel España. Once a great hotel, the run-down España is full of crumbling busts, David statues, and exotic pets.

The next day we visited Miraflores, the more modern “hip” part of Lima. We discovered an excellent sandwich place called La Lucha (“the fight) themed around social uprising.


That afternoon, we boarded our 20-something hour bus to Máncora. Cruz del Sur is the only way to travel in Peru.

We did our best to enjoy our short day in Máncora. We stayed at the Kokopelli Beachpacker hostel, complete with pool, poolside bar, and cuddly hostel pets. We even made it down to the beach for a few hours, and ate some delicious Mexican food.

The next morning we were back on the bus — this time an eight-hour ride to Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. We stayed in a lovely boutique hostel called Manso on the river boardwalk. The boardwalk was clean, modern, and full of families. I loved it.

The next day we explored the city. It’s a very nice and rather modern city. We visited Parque Seminario, aka “Iguana Park,” known for the iguanas that live there and come down from the trees midday to pose for photos.

We also walked up 444 steps (yes, they’re numbered) to the top of Santa Ana Hill for amazing views of the city.

We caught a movie (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was the only thing playing in English… unfortunately…) and had a fancy night out at Riviera, an Italian restaurant.

That night we took an incredibly uncomfortable overnight bus to Quito. We spent the next day sightseeing despite the fact that we were both feeling tired and a bit under the weather.

The next day — our last day in South America — we set out on a local bus to visit the Mitad del Mundo, or the “middle of the world”: the equator.

First we visited the Mitad del Mundo tourist park, where there’s an equatorial monument. The monument, and the line of the equator, was measured and built in the 18th century. More recently, scientists discovered that the equator is actually a couple hundred feet to the side using GPS. We visited both equator lines.

At the second, “real,” equator, we got to witness water swirl down a drain in different directions depending on where the basin was placed on either side of the equator line. When directly on the equator, the water drained straight down. SCIENCE.

And, true to form, we finished up our last day in South America by taking goofy “fotos locos” on the equator.


2 thoughts on “The great race from Cusco to Quito

  1. Diane Garey says:

    What a great trip, so glad you shared all with us. Diane

  2. Thessa says:

    Thanks for the Info… I am planning to triavel next year to south america.

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