By Stuart Starrs
Six months of sea-fog has its affect on Lima’s desert coast. Pushing in over the city from south-easterly direction, it brushes up against the low hills that are the first signs of the existence of great Andes mountains.
Condensing, this sea-fog encourages a remarkable green transformation that comes as a great relief to some city dwellers who suffer through the grey half of the year.
The Lomas de Lúcumo are a series of green and pleasant hills far closer to Lima than the larger Lomas de Lachay. The fact that they’re so close – in the valley of Lurín, near Pachacamac, just 20 minutes from the city – that makes them such a great attraction.
A 150 hectare gully that captures the moist air, Quebrada Verde turns green each winter. It bursts to life with a number of plant species, birds, insects, reptiles and even endangered mammals such as the coastal fox.
At the start of winter:
After a couple of months of winter:
The settlements of Villa El Salvador and Villa María, two new Lima districts created by the mass influx of migrants to Lima, had by the 1990s encroached on a number of hill-side green pastures. As Villa María spread south into the Lurín valley by a process of land occupation by the poor, the Lomas de Lúcumo above the Quebrada Verde settlement, seemed to be next.
In 2003 residents of Quebrada Verde decided to band together to form the Lomas de Lúcumo Ecotourism Circuit, a project aimed at preserving the green area by making it profitable to do so. In the process the land was registered, hopefully providing some legal protection.
Since then these hills have received thousands of visitors annually with over 8000 expected in 2010.
Two circuits exist to hike, a shorter and a longer. Both offer great views over the valley and, in winter months, are a refreshing change in scenery from the grey city not far away. Those who undertake the longer hike, itself just a few miles long, arrive at an idea location to camp. A cliff-face ideal for rock-climbing also exists to be used by those with the equipment.
Fresh air and greenery are the main attraction, as are the endangered species such as the amancaes flower.
To get to the area, from the old Pan-Americana highway, take the left turn into the valley towards the town of Pachacamac, but continue down the same road passing the entrance, with traffic lights, that takes you to the town’s plaza. Cross the bridge and head straight, then right into Quebrada Verde.
Across the valley, through the town of Pachacamac, then through Jatosisa, are the Lomas de Manzano/Jatosisa and the Lomas de San Fernando (Photos taken winter at height of winter greenery).
No circuits exist here but the land occupations, illegal, semi-legal and permitted and slowly taking place. The first lomas mentioned are popular with motocross enthusiasts and downhill bikers, the second set of lomas for cross-country cyclists and those attracted by the fields of amancaes flowers.
With winter coming to an end, this is the last month to visit any of the desert coasts Lomas in 2010. Get going!