When I booked a tour to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, it included a stop over in Lima, Peru before the tour started. The itinerary was not that detailed. Day 1: Meet at hotel in Lima. Day 2: Half Day Tour of Lima. Free time. Day 3: Depart for Cusco and Inca Trail.

That’s 2 nights, and 3 days for one half day tour of the city. It left us a lot of free time in Lima, and it was that free time that got me into trouble.

Our city tour was basic, hitting on the highlights and then ending at an outdoor shopping center in Miraflores. We were offered rides back to the hotel, or we could depart and explore from there on our own.

My companion and I saw a restaurant on the beach, just down the hill from the Larcomar Shopping Center and decided we would head to La Rosa Nautica for lunch on the ocean.

The Miraflores coastline with La Rosa Nautica on a pier in the distance. via Google Streetview

The entire area had me laid back. It looked and felt like Malibu or Santa Monica, so I didn’t have my wits about me when I suggested we take a bushy path down the hill to the restaurant recommended by our guide instead of taking a cab all the way around.

It looked fine, it was just a kilometre away, and there was a trail to take you from the cliff of Miraflores down to the Circuito de Playas which we would cross to get to the pier.

This is the path we descended. It even has a crosswalk! via Google Streetview

Once we got to the bottom of that trail and crossed the highway, we started walking to the restaurant when we were approached by two men, one with a gun, the other a knife.

The gunman flashed the piece on his belt and started yelling at us in Spanish. I’m assuming he wanted what we had which amounted to a backpack filled with passports, and jackets, a camera, and the money in our pockets.

We were robbed on the side of this road by the beach in mid-afternoon. via Google Streetview

I handed him the money and said that was all we had. He pointed to my wrist, and I gave him my Polar training watch. All the while he was barking at us in Spanish, I was responding back in French. It was bizarre. Cars were passing along the busy highway, some honking, but none stopping.

He pointed to a gold ring on my finger and asked for that as well, but I balked. This was a ring my grandmother gave my grandfather for his 21st birthday, and one they gave me for mine. I was not letting it go. The delays became frustrating for the bandits, and they eventually crossed the highway and back up the trail we had just descended.

View from the pier leading to La Rosa Nautica. via Google Streetview

Pulses racing we flagged a cab and asked to be taken back to the hotel instead of the restaurant. In the end it cost us about $100, a watch, and a pair of hiking shoes. I kept my backpack, didn’t lose the passports, nor my grandfather’s ring.

We were lucky.

Miraflores is a beautiful area. Lima is a wonderful coastal town. Tourists with big back packs would best avoid the trails leading down to the ocean. If you don’t want to get robbed in Lima at gunpoint, and knifepoint, the Larcomar Shopping Center overlooking the beaches is just fine, thank you very much.

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  1. Tania Sifuentes Orsi October 17, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Shame that you have passed these bad times in my country. Peru is a wonderful place, but unfortunately also very insecure, not only for our visitors but for ourselves. but not all places are like that, just be careful and be aware of who is on our side. Peruvians are not all like this, here you can find friendly people that they will receive with joy and make you feel at home. apologize to you for the great scare that must have passed, I hope the rest of your visit has been very nice and you have enjoyed the rest of my country.

  2. Betty October 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I’m so sorry to read this. I do really apologise to you and your companion. It’s true that Lima, the capital city is insecure, not only for tourists but for us, Peruvians too. You have to watch out all the time and be very careful with your belongings. Unfortunately we need to grow more as a nation. However, there are also friendly warm people who will make you feel like home. In Cusco be careful too. Good luck!

  3. Mike October 17, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    We peruvians, as a society, are wicked. Trust less in people when you come; sure you can find nice harmless people, but there will be always risks. My apologies.

  4. Simon November 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Traveling in south America is generally a great experience and very overwhelming.. But your senses have to be prepared for this unfortunate possibilities. I’m so sorry you had to go through this.. I’m not Peruvian but here I’ve learned some things useful when traveling south america.. So far nothing has happened to me but in aware of the danger of discovering the lands of the Inkas

  5. Simon November 5, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Oh.. I forgot.. The first time I went exploring that area where your unfortunate experience took place I was luckily adviced of the great views and the risk of going walking down there. I carried with me the very basic stuff just in case.. Nothing happened to me but I was adviced.

  6. Elaine April 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for the tip! I’m going there in June and my plan was to find a path and walk down. I heard taking a cab can be risky too, though! Choices, choices… ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Gemma Two Scots Abroad April 24, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Sad to hear this. We had bad luck in Lima too, freak accident during a bike tour. Still a lovely city!

  8. Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields April 26, 2015 at 3:09 am

    What a frightening experience. My husband and I spend five nights staying in Miraflores in 2014. We had a wonderful time and did not feel unsafe once. We were fairly careful and didn’t go out at night but during the day we walked around a lot without incident. I’m glad I didn’t read about your experience before we went. It would have made me quite nervous I think.

  9. Nelson Mochilero April 27, 2015 at 3:28 am

    Sorry to hear that mate. I’m from Peru and since kid, I always knew that this part of Miraflores is a prefered spot for robbers. But many tourists doesn’t believe that some parts could be dangerous because they doesn’t seem to be. Wide open eyes always. Take care!

  10. Juliana April 27, 2015 at 9:52 am

    This is such an unfortunate incident for you! I’ve been to Lima twice and each time I’ve only met really nice people, thankfully. In fact every time people ask me what the one thing I love most about Peru is, I always say it’s the people! Everyone seems really genuine and warm, I’m so sorry you had to go through that! I hope that doesn’t deter you from going back; Peru is an amazing country.

  11. Sarah Two Brits Abroad April 27, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Crikey! We were advised not to walk down to the beach at night, but climbed down by day and walked along the water’s edge with no problems. What cheek they had too – in broad daylight with all the cars driving past! Hope it didn’t put you off Peru too much?

  12. Robin April 27, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    That’s awful. ๐Ÿ™ glad it only cost you about 100$, a watch and a pair of shoes.. you’re life is worth a lot more. Don’t let it ruin your travel experiences.

    x, Robin | http://www.parttimebackpacking.com

  13. Polly April 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Sorry to hear this happened to you! I visited Miraflores as part of a Peru tour and I thought it was a nice area but did feel like I stuck out as a tourist (though I do try and blend in). I was a bit more paranoid than the others in my group because I’d been robbed in broad daylight in Cuba a few months previously, so I spent the whole time in Peru expecting the same thing to happen to me.

    It doesn’t sound like you did anything to encourage the robbers (like walk around flashing an iPad – so many idiots did that in Lima!) but you were just very unlucky. It’s a horrible thing to experience when you’re just trying to explore a destination and finding your feet in the area.

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