La Punta de Callao is the tiny tourist district of Callao. Callao is the largest Pacific Ocean port in South America and has played a major role in the history of Lima, Peru.
Callao is the largest slum of Lima, the most dangerous area. La Punta is a tiny peninsula of wealthy homes and yacht clubs. To get in or out, you have to pass through Callao proper. I found it safe to travel the main avenues during the day, and it’s worth the trip.
My brother and I tried to go to La Punta de Callao in 2009. We had a great time but we never entered La Punta. The taxis drop you off at Plaza Grau by the Peruvian Coast Guard building, because vehicle entrance to La Punta costs 20 soles. There’s a dock right there where we took a boat tour, which showed us the port and the La Punta mansions from the water, and we thought that was it. We went for a ceviche.
After eating we explored. I was in awe at the architecture. The buildings haven’t seen upkeep in centuries. Some seem to be falling down. It’s like looking at Detroit ruin porn, but American decay photo essays are typically 20th century buildings. Old Callao decay are colonial buildings. It’s surreal. I kept walking, kept looking, until locals warned us not to stray further. It’s dangerous. We didn’t see any sketchy elements, but we heeded their advice.
This week I took wifey and we actually found La Punta. I learned that Plaza Grau and the deteriorated blocks were outside the safe, tourist area. You have to pass Plaza Grau toward the Royal Felipe Fortress (built to defend Lima from pirates) and continue down Gamarra to enter Chucuito, a neighborhood originally settled by Italian-Peruvians that buffers old Callao from La Punta. You’ll pass the Peruvian Navy lighthouse and SUNAT before reaching Plaza Galvez, after which starts the wealth. Pristine streets, republican mansions, a small boating community. This is the touristic La Punta de Callao. At the end of the peninsula is the Peruvian Naval Academy and Plaza San Martin, which features a mirador.
For great Callao history see these articles from EnPeruBlog:
Wifey and I received the same warning intensity in the port area during my second visit. Three different Peruvians warned us back toward Plaza Grau because of the “rateros” – thieves. Callao residents clearly try to protect tourism and advise tourists to stay in La Punta, and not to explore old Callao.
Unfortunately those old blocks were more interesting. Clean, upscale areas are common. But I haven’t seen deteriorated colonial architecture like Callao anywhere in the world.
On my first visit my brother and I received two warnings. With my wife we received three. So in two visits to the Callao’s port area I received five total warnings, an average of 2.5 per visit, each visit lasting about an hour.
Callao pics below. For slideshow viewing, see the La Punta de Callao album on the Expat Chronicles Facebook page.
The old colonials are faded beauties. I am aware that Callao has long been a storied tough neighborhood along the lines of Tepito in Mexico City However, any chance for gentrificiation?
Don’t think there’s much chance of gentrification of Callao, the port area.
There’s talk that Lince, just north of San Isidro, is the gentrification area.
If I were to guess, La Victoria and the center would come next. Rimac or San Juan Lurigancho before Callao, which would be absolutely last. It’s just not convenient to anything besides a hardcore reputation.
the worst slums i saw were coming into Lima by bus from Trujillo. Just horrid squalor, driving on bridges looking down into the polluted river seeing people wash and bathe in it, looked like something out of Slumdog. Completely disgusting. Peru def has some of the highest poverty I have seen among south american countries, worse than favelas in Brazil,
aaron that is why you are coming by bus, the poor scum coming to Lima by bus
You right Luigi
Aaron. Is cheap.Maybe a Mochilero.
He should visit Chicago o New Tork,Maybe Baltimore o LA. He was Non Well Dress that’s why they charge him 20.00 Soles to get in La Punta. Mochileros don’t take Showers. (Hippies)