The Chorrillos coastline and El Morro Solar headland is a four-hour scenic excursion with a hilltop shrine, sweeping sea and city vistas, fishmarket, restaurants and a death-defying diving priest – less than 25 minutes’ drive south of Miraflores.Flag down a taxi driver and ask how much he charges for half a day’s excursion here – I paid USD$25, about 80 Peruvian soles, to head over well worth the scenic views of the city, the statue of Christ arms spread wide over impoverished Surco and the foggy cliffs of the southwest.
It’s worth it to view gorgeous wraparound reddish cliffs set against a deep azure ocean; observe local fishermen; gorge on authentic Peruvian seafood dishes, and witness how parched Lima really is, as well as the great divide between the rich and poor living cheek to cheek. You can start at the Chorrillos Fisherman’s Market, the northernmost point of this tour and head south from here. Note that the market is only open before 11 am in the morning, if at all, given the dwindling coastal catch from overfishing, El Niño and climate change.
If you’re short of time, skip this and head over to the Chorrillos Malecón (seafront walkway) – it’s tranquil, rustic and authentic. The beach below it, Playa Agua Dulce, is a hangout for locals in the evenings and on weekends. Continue further south and take the left hand fork up to the Morro Solar to view a coastal panorama of the city, war monuments and the 37-meter high statue of ‘Christ of the Pacific.’
The statue, built June 16, 2011, is Lima’s take on Rio’s Christ the Redeemer. Ironically, and true to biblical parables, the poor (in the form of squatter homes) sit right at its feet while the 1875 Club de Regatas, a private yacht club with Olympic-sized swimming pool and tennis courts lie on the other side of the hill, along the coast.
The controversial statue, a parting gift to Lima from former president Alan García, illustrates the tendency for departing politicos to raid public coffers in order to leave their stamp on the city with grandiose works, monuments or artwork.
Either take the left offshoot for a closer view of Christ or stay on the main road and head for the open-air chapel of the Sanctuaria Virgen del Morro Solar at the west-facing peak of the hilly range.
The sanctuary’s quaint tiles, wrought-iron gates and charming icons contrast jarringly with a towering modern cross that lights up at nightfall. Linger a few minutes at the sanctuary for a panoramic view of Chorrillos and Barranco. Note – after the summer months of April-July, the coast is prone to heavy fog rolling in from the ocean – super for dramatic photos – and it gets damp and slightly chilly.
Heading back down the road, you’ll see on the left a smallish statue of the Unknown Solider (Soldado Desconocido), a historical monument commemorating the Battle of San Juan between the Peruvians and the Chileans during the War of the Pacific on January 13, 1881.
Turn left at the bottom of the hill and continue southward on the coastal road toward the restaurant El Salto de Fraile (the Leaping Monk) where romantics believe a monk fell to his death reaching out to his childhood sweetheart as she passed by in a ship below.
The Leaping Monk performs next to the restaurant
This picturesque, rocky point is the launchpad of a local daredevil. Dressed in robes and a wetsuit, he plunges five stories into the raging surf below for tips, to the gasps of the local crowds. The restaurant has gorgeous views but isn’t well known for its food – so head farther south along the road to the seaside restaurants and bars of Playa Pescadores, tourist-free, hence cheaper prices.
Sample the freshest Peruvian coastal cuisine here from ceviche with sides of corn and sweet potato, causa – layered potato and seafood patties smothered in colorful aji sauce, arroz con mariscos – rice stewed with seafood, and crunchy deep fried fish and calamari.
Note – If you extend your Chorrillos visit, you might also visit the most popular beaches in the district. La Herradura is popular with surfers; Agua Dulce is good for swimming and families.