Lomas de Lachay: Explore a Unique Desert Ecosystem

Out of lemons comes lemonade - in this case, exemplified by the unique ecosystem at Lomas de Lachay National Reserve just 2 hours north of Lima.
Lomas de Lachay, a unique ecosystem of the Peruvian coast formed by fog forests in the desert.
Lomas de Lachay. Photo by gonzalo iglesias on Unsplash.

For the last few months, Lima has been plagued by the annual winter garúa cloud, keeping the city in a persistent state of somberness and gloominess. With the gray coastal fog tightly hugging the capital, the skies are a constant shade of overcast often offering no sight of the sun for weeks on end. However, out of lemons comes lemonade—in this case, exemplified by Lomas de Lachay National Reserve just 2 hours north of Lima.

The unique ecosystem at Lomas de Lachay is part of Peru’s Yungas geography, a genre of area much like a cloud forest in which a haze of humidity occupies the land for long periods of time. At the end of the humid season, the moisture will have created a lush spread of vegetation, which is why mid-September to mid-October is the best time to visit this particular Yungas as part of your Peru vacation.

What makes Lomas de Lachay so aesthetically striking is its location. The national reserve is situated among a mountain valley, surrounded to all sides by rocky slopes and Peru’s dry coastal desert. As well, the waves of the Pacific are just beyond the stretchs of sand, 3.5 miles from the park’s entrance. Because of this, it is possible to see ocean waters, sand dunes, and a dramatic mountain range all from one viewpoint at various perspectives throughout Lomas de Lachay.

Lomas de Lachay trees, LimaThe trees in the national park make for some truly wicked motifs.

Hikers who embark on any of the handful of designated, well-posted, and fenced trailed throughout the park will be delighted with the bright, verdant green foliage that dominates the landscape during these early spring days. The trees in Lomas de Lachay are surreal items to behold as well, with all of their leafless limbs twisting about in the most warped fashion like those that dominate horror movies. If visitors are lucky, they may even catch glimpses of various species of wildlife such as small foxes, field mice, snakes, rabbits, and soaring falcons above the valley.

The sun shines down quite strongly in the afternoon (so be sure to bring a hat or some sunscreen!), but when it occasionally ducks behind the ephemeral wisps of clouds, a light golden gauze of light blesses the scenery, giving it a completely dreamlike feel. Also well worth the planning is a hike to a higher point in time to see the sunset, sure to be an unforgettable experience on your Peru tour. Although the fading Andean range blocks the final moments, visitors will enjoy bathing in the pastel-colored sky that illuminates the Yungas’ lime green vines and ferns. And for a moment before heading back to the campgrounds or a bus to the city, relish in the light fog that reclaims the land just as twilight begins to fade away.