Lima city tours are ideal for the green traveller who wants to combine seeing the beauty of Peru and its vast diversity of wildlife with an educational and interesting look at the city’s wonderful colonial architecture, most of which dates back to around 500 years.
Lima was founded by Spanish settlers in the 16th Century and for a time was considered to be the most important city in South America. The Peruvian capital stretches between the Andes cordillera and the Pacific coast and is home to one-third of Peru’s inhabitants.
Lima city tours and finding your way around
It’s well worth your while planning your Lima city tours comprehensively as the city has a huge amount to offer in terms of the diversity of the architecture. In this modern and bustling city you can find extremely well preserved examples of colonial architecture, hugely sprawling shanty towns close to bang up to date modern buildings.
If you want to really explore Lima, then consider first if you want to take the adventurous route and go it alone or if you would prefer to take a Lima city tour with a local. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from doing both either, so that you can first find your way around with an experienced guide and then go on to really swim in the cultural soup by exploring alone.
Whichever way you decide to take your Lima city tour, do make sure that you don’t take all your cash with you and watch any bags and your pockets. Theivery is rife in Lima and gangs tend to operate all over the city, often dressed as smart young men and women in busy areas.
There are a number of options for guided tours, such as the Urban Adventures bicycle tour or perhaps the Lima Discovery Tour. The cycling tour takes you through the city’s artistic and ancient heart, as well as the coastline and the archaeological Huaca Pucllana site where pre-Inca pyramids once stood.
The discovery tour lets you explore more fully on foot and after meeting you at your hotel, the bilingual guide will lead you off the beaten track before ending up at the central market where you can explore local cuisine and the typical diet enjoyed by the locals.
Public transport in Lima
Lima’s public transport was pretty chaotic up until last year when the new system was inaugurated. Now, rather than the old system that didn’t allow buses to drive through the city centre, gas powered articulated buses circulate on partitioned-off bus lanes. Buses can only be caught at the platform-style bus stops where there is also a dispensing machine for you to purchase tickets.
The Tren Electrico is an urban train route that was initially planned in the late 1980s, when work was started to link the southern districts of Lima with the city centre via high-speed trains that run on overpasses. However, when the country’s economy collapsed, work was suspended and only seven stations have been built. Last year, work began again and extensions to the routes are planned for the near future.
Things to do in Lima for the ecotourist
Lima has become well known for its liveliness and gourmet food in recent years so you’re not going to be short of things to do or see during your trip to the Peruvian capital. The handicraft market is worth a visit on Avenida Petit Thouars and has a variety of indigenously made crafts for you to choose from and marvel over.
Check out the main square, Plaza de Armas, is a great place to see some of Lima’s buildings and it really comes alive at night aesthetically speaking. The Bridge of Sighs in the Barranco district is the perfect place for finding traditional Peruvian restaurants and local vendors whilst taking in some of the best views that the city has to offer.
At night, why not venture to the Ayahuasca Bar and enjoy its famous Pisco sours and cocktails and is situated in a large colonial house that ensures there is plenty of room for travellers and locals alike.
The growing worldwide interest in organic produce means that many South American countries are beginning to offer organic alternatives to the chemically enhanced farming that Peru has seen over the last couple of decades. This means that organic eateries are beginning to appear in Lima slowly, although at present there is only one that is 100% organic as far as we know.
AlmaZen offers organic, vegan food with a healthy and homely flavour that has proved a huge hit as it’s not only tasty, but beautifully presented. Hierbabuena is another restaurant that offers healthy dishes and as much organic produce on the menu as they can source at the time.
Green hotels as a base for your Lima city tour
The Explorer’s Inn is a wonderful place for any green tourist to stay and has won numerous awards for the work it does and the accommodations it supplies. Set within the 274,690 hectare Tambopata National Reserve, the Inn is perfect for those wanting to get up close and personal with the Amazon flora and fauna.
Ever since the eco-lodge was built in 1976, the Explorer has been committed to promoting conservation and ecotourism in the local community. The lodge has played a central role in preserving the natural environment of the Madre de Dios province and to support research in rainforest conservation biology – it’s an ecotourist’s dream hotel.
If you prefer not to be woken in the morning by the cries of the howler monkey or the songs of the more than 600 species of birds that have been spotted from the lodge, then there is always the Hotel Pachacamac Eco Resort and Spa, which offers more up-market accommodations as well as full spa facilities and a swimming pool.
Lima is a lively and colourful city to visit and its location at the edge of the Amazon rainforest must make this one of the most unique destinations in the world. For the green traveller, the opportunity to see and even study the Amazon is an excellent one and further improvements to the metro system will soon have Lima on a par with other cities around the world, as well as help you find your way around on what can only be described as a wonderful Lima city tour.
Photo credit: Miguel Vera