life on pine ✧

where the desert meets the sea | paracas, peru

Kate ParrishComment



after our night in huacachina we headed a little over an hour towards the coast. where the desert and sea come together lives a little town called paracas, full of grungy beaches and ceviche stands... and we weirdly loved this place. millions of birds live here year-round [including the pink flamingo!], and thousands of others that fly from the northern hemisphere and further south, ranging from guano birds to humboldt penguins. 


THE AREA IS KNOWN FOR: paracas national reserve, ATVing through the reserve, ceviche, lots of birds, islas balestas and wind surfing. we drove our rental car literally into the desert and were blow away by the volcanic beaches, massive coastal cliffs and the blending scenery. if you get lucky, like we did, you might even spot some wildlife too; flamingos, penguins and other birds, lizards and other marine life. there is a visitor’s center next to the entrance of the beaches, and for about $3/person you can spend the day at the beach. make sure to pack some cold drinks and snacks, because once you're in the park, there aren't many options [ do NOT suggest eating at the restaurant in the park – everything was of very bad quality and over priced, including the pisco sours. we were warned by locals and still had to learn the hard way]. 



rich in wildlife, islas ballestas is also known as “the poor man’s galapagos”,  as they are far less expensive and offer many of the same animals. these islands can be visited by boat from the paracas harbor for about $15 – 20 a person. it is usually a guided half day trip and they claim you might see anything from dolphins, peruvian pelicans, penguins, sea lions and much more. unfortunately we didn't get the chance to do this – but if you're interested you can book tours through almost any hotel/hostel or directly at the harbor.   


our budgets worked well with this eco resort that was tucked away on it's own little private beach. the rooms were simple, the drinks were good, and we enjoyed SUPing in the morning amongst the many pink flamingos and other birds in a protected bird sanctuary. here are the details:

WHERE WE STAYEDbambu paracas eco bungalows
PRICE PER NIGHT | $65/night
ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE | SUP boarding, kite surfing, beach bon fires, sand bar & kitchen.


sandboarding in peru | huacachina desert

Kate ParrishComment



... and to be honest, i had no idea there was desert land in peru (turns out most of coastal peru is a desert). when i saw photos of sand dunes during my online research, i knew it was a place that would be fun to visit and especially with friends in town. approximately 5 hours south of lima, located just 10 minutes away from the small town of ica, is a small "lagoon" surrounded by palm trees and gigantic sand dunes, similar to those seen in the sahara desert.


they say that in the 1940’s this area became a popular beauty spa for wealthy peruvians in lima. the waters were thought to have healing powers, and many came to bathe in the waters to soothe and heal their bodies and skin. at some point in the 1950s, it fell out of favor, and for decades was abandoned.

later, around the 1990’s, businessmen began to offer tourists the option to explore the gigantic sand dunes in a 4-wheel dune buggy. travelers quickly realized that this was a rare and enjoyable experience in a country that was already famous for providing mountains, jungles, and ancient ruins.


the truth is, this place is made for tourism and tourism only. with only 95 local residents [all dedicated to the hotels/hostels and restaurants in the area], nothing about it feels very local. that being said – it's cool, the dunes are incredible and they've really created a fun adventurous destination. if you have the time, it's a fun place to stop for one night. we stayed at banana's adventure for 1 night with  your classic hostel crowd, good food, and a clean room. there are plenty of adventure outfitters, we went through huacachina private tours and had a really fun time. 

* my leggings, top and hoodie are all O U T D O O R  V O I C E S and can be shopped H E R E


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6 cool things to do & see in lima, peru

Kate ParrishComment
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lima isn't one of those cities where you arrive and immediately pick up on the "vibes". on the first day, we often felt lost on what to see and what neighborhoods to spend time in. most research will lead you to staying in miraflores or barranco [see our airbnb wishlist], which i absolutely agree with. these neighboring coastal 'hoods of lima have a high density of the city's best restaurants and access to lima's very active boardwalk and the ocean.

it is a large and sprawling city, everything being fairly spread out – but with the right amount of research and google map star-ing, we finally figured out how to navigate peru's capital. thankfully, uber is in lima and the cheapest way to get around – we never spent more than a few dollars on a ride.


THE COAST STROLL: we did this many times – the miraflores boardwalk is an extremely well kept pathway for pedestrians, dog walkers and bikers alike. there are a ton of workout stations along the way, yoga classes and many sporty locals. near parque del amor is a good place to start.

TRY SURFING [OR JUST WATCH]: lima is a big surfing town [i did not know this before] with many great breaks (miraflores being a good beginner's spot), BUT it isn't much of a beach town with it's rocky coast. luckily, rosa nautica has great drinks, good ceviche and the closest of views to watch surfers. kp rented from pukana surf ($10 for board & wetsuit) multiple times and had a positive experience. 

VISIT THE LARCO MUSEUM: privately owned in a historic 18th century home, housing a ton of indigenous artifacts from the pre-colombian era. the garden here is one of the most beautiful i've ever seen and worth going to alone for a drink and snack at their cafe.

WANDER MIRAFLORES & BARRANCO: popularly known as lima's two nicest districts with tons of fun shops, restaurants, outdoor parks and bars to keep you occupied. we also enjoyed taking a half day trip to lima's historic center, the old architecture is beautiful!

TAKE A PISCO SOUR + CEVICHE TOUR: create your own route and get to know the friendly bartenders and wait staff. or do one of the many food & drink tours offered! need help planning where to go? check out:

W H E R E  T O  E A T  A N D  D R I N K  I N  L I M A  |  A  M I N I  G U I D E

SEE THE MAGIC WATER CIRCUIT AT NIGHT: sounds kinda dorky at first, but the magic water circuit holds the guinness book record for the largest fountain complex in the world, displaying 13 distinct fountains, many of which are interactive. all of the fountains are illuminated at night, many with continuously changing color schemes. they have a colorful laser light program that is synchronized with classical peruvian music - that makes for a fun night time stroll. 


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where to eat and drink in lima | mini guide

Kate ParrishComment
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if you read my post from hisa franko in slovenia, you know that we're big fans of the show chef's table. not only because we love to learn about food and the interesting chefs behind it, but also because it has a special way of getting you excited about specific regions around the world. the episode from slovenia single handedly made sure we saw that part of the country and it ended up being one of our most memorable legs of the trip. when we decided to travel to peru, we watched the CENTRAL episode, and immediately were online frantically trying to make reservations. sadly it didn't work out for us as the recently awarded 4th best restaurant in the world was on a lot of other people's minds too. 

this was just the start of us learning more about lima as a complete food mecca. with the pacific ocean, andes mountains and amazonian rainforest spread across this crazy diverse country, each climate produces a unique inspiration for the chefs around peru's capital. add in peruvian's skill for flavor blending, experimentation, and their influence from the many japanese and chinese immigrants – it's no wonder this city is full of endless dining options, fit for any palette. 


it is hard to go two blocks without finding a cevicheria in lima – from the small vending trucks pushed along the streets to the fanciest of fine dining establishments in the most affluent areas – there is always fresh ceviche to be had. 

more than 2,000 years ago peru had an abundance of highly acidic oranges that were used to marinate the fish and started this "movement" – these have since been replaced with small bright green lemons that "cook" the fish in a different way than our lemons back in the states can. expect to see a boiled sweet potato [camote] and a two-inch piece of heavy corn on the cob [choclo] on the side of each dish – and of course a few small red hot limo peppers mixed into the raw fish. served in small portions with a variety of fish and shellfish,  based on what's available and in season, it's the perfect way to share a meal with friends and family.


  • EL PAN DE LA CHOLA this bakery rivals any spot we've been to in SF, and is one of the best breakfasts i've ever had. 
  • LA BODEGA VERDE a fun, healthy, cozy patio spot for breakfast or lunch, and a great area to walk around in afterwards. 
  • JERONIMO great lunch spot – take recommendations from the waiter and make sure to get a reservation if you want a table. their bar seating is pretty fun though, too.
  • EL MERCADO make a reservation 2 weeks in advance, or arrive 15-20 minutes before they open to get in line for the bar. this spot fills up FAST but is worth it if you can snag a seat. lunch only!
  • LA MAR one of the fancier and more established cevicherias – arrive before 1 if you want to get a table. each fish served here can be traced back not only to the place where it was caught, but the fisherman who caught it.
  • LA PICANTERÎA focuses on the food of the north coast, but the lunch-only version is more casual, with picnic table seating and family-style portions. our favorite was the turquoise bar area off to the side.
  • RAFAEL a must for one of your dinners in lima – high quality dining at a reasonable price.
  • CENTRAL this spot requires at least over a month in advance reservation booking. we weren't able to eat here, but based on the episode of chef's table it seems like it would be quite the experience. 
  • CHIFA CHUNG YION chifa is the chinese - peruvian cuisine that you will see all over the country. it's more of a fun experience with decent food than a food-ie experience. this chifa is a lima landmark, packed with locals and great vibes. 


  • ROSA DEL NAUTICA a seaside lima staple! we came here multiple times for drinks in their cozy bar area. if you're going for food, try to get a reservation or arrive early to get a window seat and watch the surfers. cala is another great seaside spot for drinks and a meal.
  • AYAHUASCA BAR LIMA housed in a former mansion, this is THE bar to experience on a weekend night. there are many floors/bars/patios to hang in and plenty of shaman-inspired art paying homage to the famous amazonian brew of the same name.
  • VICTORIA BAR set in a vintage victorian mansion, this is another trendy and fun bar in the popular barranco nightlife scene.
  • ANTIGUA TABERNA QUEIROLO since 1880, this old school bodega has been the gathering spot for locals to sip pisco, hang with friends and snack on small bites.
  • CRAFT BEER OF PERU the craft scene was one of the biggest surprises of the trip, there are a ton of small breweries popping up that are making really great beer and our month spent in peru might have converted me. a couple fave breweries & tasting rooms: nuevo mundo cerveceria | barbarian miraflores | cañas y tapas



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work exchange: a month at barraco lodge

Kate Parrish2 Comments


if you read my previous post, then you've already heard about and seen some photos from our experience staying at barraco. what we weren't prepared for though, was not crossing the lake again for the next 32 days.

we had been living on the road for about 8 months at this point, across 4 continents and over a dozen countries, the constantly moving lifestyle had started to catch up with us. we were also wrapping up a perfect road trip with friends through chile, this being our final scheduled stop. to find balance and save some money, we knew we needed to slow down. originally we had arranged to volunteer on a small farm near puerto varas via helpx, which we were looking forward to after having such an incredible experience working in slovenia. however that all changed once we stepped foot on barraco's land and met their knowledgeable, kind and inviting staff. 

we learned a ton...from making bread from scratch to transporting un-broken horses down the river. what we will always remember though, is our appreciation for the time and effort it takes to get things done in such a remote part of the world. the days were long and sometimes very hard yet we never got tired of soaking in the views from barraco's deck and the simple beauty in taking things more slowly. 


exactly what it sounds like really – a volunteer opportunity for travelers to work in exchange for free lodging and food. each experience can be different based on the work, environment, type of business or operation, but the same idea has grown globally to support travelers and provide an alternative educational opportunity. 

our agreement with barraco was that we would help out on the land, in the kitchen and looking after guests. as well as leveraging our backgrounds in a few key areas: business development, sales, marketing, and social media. we worked on unifying their social strategy to be more consistent and informative, targeted new markets to grow their business and completely over-hauled their now all-inclusive pricing model. it was fun, challenging and very hard at times... especially given the occasionally reliable internet connection. 


KYLE: every day was different, which was the best part. the entire lodge ran on wood fire, from the hot water for showers to the hot tubs to the kitchen stove, so chopping/moving logs and starting fires was an all day affair. i would also pick up and drop off guests, transport horses and gasoline across the lake (behind an 8 foot boat!), feed the dogs/horses/cats/oxen, and transport wood for building projects uphill to the lodge. one of my favorite days was manning the coals for 6 hours while we slow roasted the traditional patagonian lamb.

KATE: my jobs were split between helping with social media, building guest materials and general strategy for growing the business. i also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, helping prepare meals alongside the head chef, setting the table for every meal, making drinks [i'm now a pisco sour master!], working with the local vendors [i think my favorite was seeing where they got their fresh homemade honey], picking apples, doing many [many] dishes, tending to the guests, and many other random little jobs that would pop up. 


sometimes we would work 12 straight hours and other days we would have the whole day free to enjoy the lodge and surrounding nature. after completing our jobs/tasks for the day, we  would explore the local waterfall and streams, hike, fish, sleep at the local refugio, take boat rides and cuddle with the dogs when we were feeling lazy. there was always a roaring fire to cozy up by and keep you warm as the weather was usually unpredictable. 



here are a few sites to get you started:    help exchange    |    WWOOF    |    ciee


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