Alternative Peru was founded in 2014 by Carlos and his Belgian wife Natalie. Since then, the Alternative Peru team has grown into a very diverse team of tour leaders, bilingual guides, cooks, local guides, drivers, artisans, artists. Most of them based in Lima but with roots all over Peru: coast, Andes and Amazon. Alternative Peru believes very strongly in the values and positive impact of Responsible Tourism.
On this tour of Callao, we explore two different areas of the often overlooked smaller twin city of Lima. We start with upscale La Punta, a neighbourhood on a peninsula with rocky beaches and colonial mansions. Next, we head to the historic centre of Callao, which consists of an interesting mix of colonial architecture and modern art and street art. The best street art of Lima, without a doubt.
Callao’s historic centre has transformed over the last decade from a crime-ridden and dilapidated area into a colorful artistic and safe neighborhood. On our walk, we can admire both Callao’s architectural gems as well as its contemporary street art. There are more than 600 murals of local and international artists as well as modern art galleries. These have not only revived the neighborhood but also the local economy and community.
As in our other Lima tours, there is a cultural and local experience included: a delicious homemade lunch at a local family’s house as well as a graffiti workshop by a local street artist.
It is very important to note that Callao is its own separate city and not part of Lima city. This seems like a small detail to visitors, but not so to locals. They are very proud of their separate city, even though it is mostly known to visitors for its international airport and cruise port. In Peru, it has long be known as a dangerous place that tourists shouldn’t visit, except for flying in or out.
While it is still true that certain areas of Callao are to be avoided, other areas have seen a remarkable transformation. The former notorious port district has become a hip place with social events, a lot of amazing street art and good food. All this thanks to art initiatives, starting with a few local artists who converted several walls in the historic center into art pieces.
This transformation opened up economic opportunities for many of the community members and offered an alternative to a life in crime and violence for young people. People’s homes became menú-style restaurants, cafes sprung up, housing conditions improved and the streets became safer.
The La Punta Peninsula of Callao
Your guide and driver pick you up from your hotel at 10am and together you head towards Callao. After about a 40-minutes drive we arrive to our first stop in Callao: the La Punta peninsula. While most tourists won’t visit this upscale neighborhood with rocky beaches, seaside mansions and spectacular views, La Punta has a more distinctly Peruvian character than other upscale areas of Lima such as Miraflores.
Historic Centre of Callao: Colonial Architecture and Street Art
Next, we head to the nearby historic centre of Callao to explore its colorful streets with colonial architecture and full of art. On our walk, we see the main architectural gems, such as Fort Real Felipe, Plaza Grau, Plaza Matriz, Plaza Gálvez and the port. But we also discover the many murals painted by both local and international artists. There are also many art galleries and studios of both national and international artists around for those that are interested in more conventional modern art.
On the walk, we also learn more about how this transformation of Callao centre came about and which impact it has had on this community.
A Local Experience: Homemade Lunch and Graffiti Workshop
After the walking tour (of about 1.5 hour), we have lunch at a local family’s house nearby. Sra. Carmen is an excellent cook. This is also a great opportunity to listen to the story and perspective of a local who has seen this neighborhood change drastically over the last few years. After lunch, a local street artist teaches us some basic graffiti skills in a 30-minute workshop. You can make your own piece of art and of course take a photo to show everyone at home.
Afterwards, we head back to Lima and drop you off at your hotel around 2:30pm (exact time depending on traffic).
Your visit benefits the local community in different ways. First of all, it provides an (additional) income to several community members, including the cook and the street artist.
In addition to financial benefits, the interest and attention of people who came from all over the world increases the pride of the local people in their communities. The admiration of visitors from across the world reinforces their engagement to continue to improve their community.