The problem with the air pollution in Lima, Peru is omnipresent. From the time you exit the Jorge Chavez International Airport located in one of the busiest ports in South America known as El Callao, you will breath an air mixture considered 9 times worse that international standards for clean air.
Lima has exploded in size in the last 20 years as result of migrations forced by centralist governments. Lima’s expanding borders surrounds a city that grew without any planning. In many ways pedestrian and vehicular traffic is no different than similar metropolis like New York City or Tokyo. The problem is the lack of upkeep, maintenance and replacement of an outdated vehicular fleet consisting of buses, micros, taxis and combis and non-existent laws for clean air and emissions.
I know I will feel sick everytime I travel to Lima, Peru. The idea here is to minimize the effects of the smog and air pollution while in Lima by avoiding areas of heavy vehicular traffic.
– Try to avoid spending a long time in Historic Lima. Areas surrounding The Congress, Chinatown and The Cathedral have lots of traffic both pedestrian and vehicular. Don’t take buses or micros to or from, just taxis. Make your visits quick. Try to avoid walking, if you must, take taxis from place to place. It is well worth it.
– Even Miraflores is not exempt to air contamination and smog. Try to stay close to the beach as the ocean breeze will clear the air pollution somewhat. Avoid major roads like Paseo de la Republica where the traffic is heavier.
– Another good spot is Chorrillos. A bit far from most of the touristic spots but with lots of night entertainment and good food is becoming the hotspot for younger crowds. Its proximity to the ocean and less traffic keeps the air cleaner than Historic Lima.
– Suburbs like Surco, La Molina, and San Isidro are light in traffic. Again, keep away from the major roads and businesses.
– For the pocket conscious (like myself), I like Lince. Avoiding major roads is a bit more difficult here. Pockets are few and small but the convenience of the proximity to Historic Lima and Miraflores is priceless.
– Cuzco, Arequipa, North, South and East should not present high levels of air contamination and pollutants. I cannot say for sure. It’s been close to 20 years since I’ve been there but the higher elevation, light traffic, green areas and way of live guarantees a cleaner environment.
If you recently traveled to Peru and have a clean spot to share please do by leaving a comment, I bet everyone else will appreciate it.