Rocky Buildings To Rocky Waves In Peru

Arriving fresh as a daisy in Lima; we found the streets in Miraflores the touristy area of Lima to be cordoned off. With no taxis being able to drop us close to our final destination we lugged our bags to our hostel. Feeling the buzz in Lima, it was time for a beer. Little did I know that this beer was the start of an all and mighty 1 week bender in Lima.

Bronnie had signed up for 1 week worth of Español lessons while staying at a house full of other students. This left Tas and me to our own adventures. During this time Tas was able to buy a surfboard for himself, which was the main reason he had travelled back to Lima and Bronnie was able to buy the same model just scaled down a bit. Tas managed to escape after a few nights in. Then Triff turned up and the bender continued. Feeling the weight of very little sleep, plenty of intoxication and numb body parts. It was time to have a quiet one and watch a movie at the cinemas. This didn't go to plan, when Bronnie turned up and said. "I have finished my week of Español so lets go out and celebrate!" I looked at Triff.. "Oh ohh.."

A fun place to spend time bending but quite a trap. Lucky the door opened and we found ourselves in Punta Hermosa. This is where we caught up with Seb. We finally surfed a right hander called Punta Rocas, apart from the rubbery smell in the water and the weird polluted froth. This was a fun wave with a good take off. Wanting to move on from the polluted water, we moved on to Cerro Azul hoping for an epic left handed point break. Unfortunately the swell was hidden from this location. Off to Huacachina we all headed, Seb, Triff, Bronnie and I. Triff had been eyeing this off for a while and it looked like a great relaxed party town surrounding an oasis. We were right thinking it was a party town but full of trash. The oasis appeared to be an effluent pond or a mozzie breading ground that we were all too scared to go near for the fear of catching cholera.

We said goodbye to Seb, as his time was limited and he was keen to go back up North to the Trujillo area for waves. Our next town we stopped at with Triff was supposed to be a quiet barreling beach break, which turned out to be a dumping shore break. We said goodbye to Triff here as he was battling with stomach bugs.

From Chala to Arequipa was one of the most heart wrenching roads we had experienced on this trip. When looking out the bus window, the edge of the road would disappear down high cliffs to the rocks and ocean below. There were many crosses on many corners, which didn't help us to think good thoughts.

Machu Picchu

View of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu

Finally arriving in Arequipa, we found a good hostel that we could leave our surfboards at while we ventured to Cusco. After spending a bit of time travelling we kicked back in Arequipa and caught our breath. On the way to dinner one night we heard a familiar voice ring our names out. It was Janaka who we had met in Chicama with his fiancé Emma whom we hadn't met yet. What a pleasant surprise. That night we caught up for drinks and found a nightclub with good music and lots of dancing.

With the excitement of seeing Machu Picchu, we were quickly on a bus to Cusco with Janaka and Emma. Janaka and Emma were booked for the Inca Trail so they were staying in Cusco longer than us to acclimatise. We had planned to hit and run. We booked our tickets for Machu Picchu, the dawn patrol spot at Huayna Picchu and our return train tickets to the Machu Piccho town Olataymba. Feeling very excited, we still had a day to kill in Cusco. Not a bad town to kick back in, quite beautiful with its old buildings and tiled terracotta roofs.

Wow! We had made it to Machu Picchu and as the photos show we bee lined straight for Huayna Picchu. This was the beginning of 5 hours of solid walking, viewing and taking in as much as we possibly could. We strived to conquer just about every path we could, jumping on the tail of a tour to hear a bit of information before discovering the next beauty around the corner. It was a great decision catching the early bird as we escaped the crowd and the heat of the day. We were able to watch the mist rise and clear throughout the morning. The weather really couldn't of been better. A must see for anyone planning a trip to Peru!

We arrived at our last town in Peru called Ilo. This is one of our favourite Peruvian towns on the coast. No gringos, no annoyances and a friendly coastal atmosphere. The waves on another hand are extremely gnarly with lots of rocks.

El Olon

Ollie about to paddle out @ Él Olon. Él Olon is to the right of this photo.

Bronnie and I hired a taxi for the day and went wave hunting. The swell was quite big this day. With the feeling of failure to find anything that looked reasonable, I saw an isolated wave off in the distance. "There!" I said. We saw a wave form perfectly off in the distance across the desert, so we navigated to it in the car. It looked like a wave breaking in the same spot, unsure of the name of this wave. I committed to the surf, walked down to the rocky water edge and looked out in awe at these massive waves. Deciding that it looked safe enough, I jumped in. You know I'm alive because I'm writing this, but I must say holy shit I was in for it. I soon realised that I couldn't paddle into shore where I had just jumped in without risking bodily injuries on the rocks. I paddled and paddled until I was in what I thought was a safe zone on the shoulder. Little did I know that I had to paddle a lot further out. This wave was breaking so far off shore that Bronnie had become a little speck on the cliff looking over me. I tried paddling for some of them, but they were just too big for me. I took a few on the head. 2 times I threw my board and dove under, grabbing my leg rope and climbed to the surface. I managed to paddle across to the other side of the wave into deeper water where the wave wasn't breaking. As I was pulled back into the crunch zone, I learnt my lesson of taking a short break and kept paddling away from this monster. Eventually I was far enough away and had paddled 800m up the coast to where I could see a glimpse of sand littered with big rocks. This was my best chance; lucky I timed the sucking and dumping shore break. Clambered up onto the dry shore with a weird feeling of vomiting and excitement combined.

As I sat on the back of the taxi with my wettie still half on Bronnie explained that she had worked out the name of the break. It was El Olon, Peru's second biggest wave spot. Feeling relieved to be safe after paddling in sprint mode for the best part of an hour; there was a feeling of disappointment at not catching a wave out there.

The following day we met up with Triff who had just returned from visiting Northern Chile. Then the next day we met up with a local called Picolini who decided it was a good idea to take us out at another kamikaze break called Colegio. This guy is mad; he was jumping dry rocks on waves. I was hit by a huge wave and dragged. When I popped up, I was only a meter from the closest big rock intimidating me. Bronnie and Triff were lucky to be far enough out and make it. Still feeling a bit shaken up, I didn't stick around and made my way in through the maize of rocks. I watched Bronnie and Triff dodge more big waves before they were sitting beside me.

The following day we went to Piedras Negras and watched Picolini and his mate eat some huge waves on their heads. To their credit they rode some impressively big waves. One set came through, cleaned up Picolini's friend and dragged him under water a fair way. That was the last wave for him; he was on his way in dodging more rocks.

As much as we liked Ilo, we didn't like the surf there. We are very happy to meet Picolini and another friend of his Jim. We look forward to returning. Piedras Negras hasn't won yet!

Piedras Negras

Picolini @ Piedras Negras doing what he does best.