Compared with Bristol Bus Station, Lima is wonderful. It is much more upmarket, in fact it is more like an airport, where you check in at a desk, you are given boarding cards, and your luggage is weighed and taken from you to be loaded on to the bus separately. We have seats numbers 4 and 5, and I worry that they are not together. I also worry about a four hour cramped bus journey with my hand luggage on my lap and my knees firmly imbedded in the spleen of the person sitting in front. I worry too much. The reality is that the bus is much better than any bus I have ever travelled on in the UK. The seat configuration is 1-2, and there is more leg room than the average aircraft Business Class. A leg rest comes up from underneath your seat and a foot rest from below the seat in front. There is at least 6” to spare between my knee and the seat in front. The seats are comfortably wide, hot food is served (though I never figure out what it actually is), the toilets are segregated by sex, the hostess is friendly and I am very contented here.
The passing view is what I expected from this part of Peru: favelas and dry sand dunes. Last night Lima was so much more modern than I remember from 12 years ago, I expect this is what they call progress. Today we are travelling on the Pan-American Highway along the Peruvian coast. Here and there we catch a glimpse of the cliffs and the Pacific Ocean beyond, and we get very excited about seeing a large bird soaring above. Could it be a condor? Much discussion takes place between the passengers about the bird. There are only about 8 of us sitting upstairs in the front part of the bus, all foreigners. Another two locals occupy some seats nearer the back, but I don’t think there is anybody downstairs at all. Can this pay? The fare for a four hour journey on this luxury bus is £4 each. Later, more of the large soaring birds appear, and we realise they can’t possibly be condors, they must be vultures. How disappointing.
I've seen these kinds of makeshift "taxis" in more than one third world country - I've even seen photos of them by other VTers - and they all look very similar. You've got to try them, they're a scream! You'll usually find yourself squashed inside, the vinyl seats torn and more often than not, the floorboards exposed (a kind of real "Fred Flinstone" feel!)...but it's the ride itself that serves up the best entertainment, as you're jolted along the road, the whole vehicle kind of just swaying from side to side....they're inexpensive and often times, the drivers are also the owners of the vehicles so you're helping out a business entrepreneur!
Flightseeing Tour of Nazca Lines
Aero Condor is the oldest regional airline in Peru, and the first to offer tourist flights over the Nazca lines. We went to the Aero Condor counter at the Lima Airport, and booked a day trip to see the famous Nazca lines. An unexpected bonus was that the General Manager doubled as our pilot (no reflection on the airline - just that he is a pilot by profession and this is his passion, so maybe you will be lucky enough to end up with Luis Eduardo Palacin as your pilot, if he decides he wants to be in the air that day!) I can't remember what type of plane it was that we flew from Peru to Ica, I think it was something like a 12-seater arrangement. Once we arrived at the airport in Ica, we switched to a small Cessna to fly low over the Nazca plains. It was a thrilling experience.
I was completely pleased with the service and the value that we received through Aero Condor. I would highly recommend them to anyone interesting in organizing a Nazca Lines trip, and I will definitely use their services again if I return to Peru (which I would love to do).