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Old Jul 8, 13, 7:40 pm
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: SFO
Programs: UAL SPG Hyatt
Posts: 563
Driving from Lima Airport to Paracas

On the road from Lima (LIM) to Paracas
I came across a wide variety of experiences from other members while researching on the forums on how to get from Lima to Paracas. There were stories of hired taxi drivers ďstopping to pick up their cousinĒ, expensive hotel transport and corrupt police extracting the ďgringo-taxĒ during their routine traffic stops. Finally, after reading Pedro Mís report back in March this year about his uneventful drive, I decided to go ahead and try it. Hereís my notes from the drive while things are still fresh and unclouded by Coca Sours Ö

The Logistics
I rented the car from Hertz at Lima Airport (LIM). There are counters at both international and domestic departure, right after baggage claim. Donít expect the speedy 3-minute pickup drill weíve come to expect at US airports. End to end, it took me about 30 mins before I was in the car driving away. The car condition check was very detailed with every item (spare tire, jack, vanity mirror) carefully detailed, every scratch (over 15 on the car I picked up) and the part I loved best, I was given a comprehensive list of speed cameras/radars in the Callao/Lima area and made to acknowledge that I have been duly informed not to exceed the speed limit!

They did not have good maps at the rental counter. Not even of Lima or how to get from the airport to the Panamerica Norte/Sur (PN / PS). I had downloaded a cache version of Google Maps of the region on my phone and it proved to be spot on. All the way from Lima to the Hotel Paracas. Thatís the way to go.

The Route
- From airport rental car exit, take circle and head west on Tomas Valle.
- Tomas Valle to Panamerica Norte. Head south on Panamerica Norte.
- Panamerica Norte loops around Lima, becomes Panamerica Sur.
- Panamerica Sur south all the way to a little pass Pisco.
- West on Carretera Paracas to Paracas.

The Drive
Overall, I would say the drive was rather straightforward and pretty easy. Much less hassle than I expected. I was rather wary initially but after the first 15-20 minutes, I realized that it was not different than driving through any large city and then getting on the freeway for a destination 3-4 hours away. And as disclaimer, I have driven extensively in North America and various European and Asian cities. I would rank the experience somewhat like driving in Thailand (you encounter everything on the road) or Southern Europe (congested cities). Ok, all that said, I think Iím going to try and detail as much as possible about the entire route for folks who may be keen to try this.

Road Conditions
The first 5km or so you are on local streets from LIM until you get to the Panamerica. City driving, congested streets. Road condition is mixed with potholes, some fairly large. Occasional lights and impatient drivers behind you. You canít go too fast anyway so just take your time. Once you get on the PN/PS, it is a divided 4 lane freeway (at least 2 in each direction) for the next ~200km, until you get to Chincha Alta. It is a tollway (actually 3, administered by different agencies, total tolls s 17.5). Great road surface, sealed blacktop, well striped, reflectors on both sides, hard shoulders and good signage. There are reststops and gas stations along the way probably every 10-20 km. Get gas, a Choripan (hot dog), soda, bathroom breaks, you know the typical drill. In fact, I find it almost exactly like driving from the SF Bay Area to say Sacramento. At Chincha Alta, the toll way stops and for the last 70km or so, it becomes a 2-lane (1 each direction) undivided local road. Road condition worsens and is a lot more congested. You either drive patiently or learn how to pass safely.

Couple things to note about road conditions. While on the tollroads, the local buses/vans also do see to stop at random places to pick-up/drop-off passengers. Keep alert for them on the shoulder, usually near a small collection of houses or some other site. People do run across the street. Drivers in general seem to practice good courtesy and not road hog. The slower vehicles are in the slow lane. Duh! Why canít we seem to do this in California? On the local road after Chincha Alta, watch for people and animals sanding real close on the shoulder. Yes, they will run across the road or sometimes get halfway in the middle and wait for you to pass before completing the cross. In the US, you may be tempted to stop for them but I suspect in Pisco or Paracas you will get rear-ended in a hurry!

And finally, The Police.
I ran into a total of 5 police checkpoints along the way. They were either a couple cops on motorbikes pulled over the side of the road or something a little more formal with a larger number of cops right after a toll station stopping every car for a look-see. Lights on, insurance, rental car documentation, driverís license. Knock on wood I was not hassled beyond what other drivers had to do and was not held for ransom. Letís hope my luck holds out.

As always, happy to answer any questions.

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