Friday, Apr. 02, 2010

6. El Malecón, Miraflores

Lima has always been known as the Garden City, and no district rivals Miraflores when it comes to parks. The Miraflores government has spent years improving and adding to the district's green spaces, with a special emphasis on El Malecón, a six-mile stretch of parks situated along the cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean. (Bear in mind that the Malecón actually goes by three names, starting as Malecón de la Marina in the north, then becoming Malecón Cisneros, and ending as Malecón de la Reserva in the south.)

The Malecón is perfect for jogging, biking or simply taking in the view. Dotting the walkway are statues created by famed Peruvian artists. The two most famous works of sculpture are located on either side of the Villena Bridge, which spans a deep ravine at about the midway point on the Malecón. On one side of the bridge is the "Intihuatana" (sun anchor), designed by Fernando de Szyslo; on the other is Víctor Delfín's massive carving of a couple in deep embrace. The latter is the central piece of a section of the Malecón known as Parque del Amor (Love Park), whose design borrows heavily from Antoni Gaudí.

Keep walking a few minutes north of the Parque del Amor, and you'll see the taking-off point for parasailers. The Malecón is the prime spot for parasailing in Lima — gliders jump off the cliffs and ride the winds whipping off the ocean below. For $50, you can take a 10-minute flight with a trained parasailing guide; buy tickets at the small kiosk at Block 2 of the Malecón. Rides are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, winds permitting.

If you want more than 10 minutes of fun, rent a bike and cruise the Malecón and other sites in Lima. A good place for rentals is Bike Tours of Lima at Bolivar 150 in Miraflores. The daily rate, which includes lock and helmet, is $15.