Parque de las Leyendas, or Park of Legends, is Lima’s zoo located in the western district of San Miguel, just before Callao if coming from the city center or the southern districts of Lima.
Interestingly, the zoo and park was built on the Maranga huacas, pre-Hispanic site and burial ground. Lima’s zoo, botanical gardens and a few small museums are located among ancient adobe mounds and terraces. It adds an interesting ambiance to the zoo experience.
A property of the city of Lima, Parque de las Leyendas is also used to host festivals throughout the year. In addition to Fiestas Patrias celebrations for Peru’s independence, the park hosts concerts and themes depending on the season. The pictures below were taken during the Halloween Criollo event.
I am from a city whose zoo consistently ranks in the top two or three in the United States. Despite those high standards I believe the Parque de las Leyendas is a respectable facility. It is definitely worth the trip if you have children on an extended stay.
At the time of this writing, the Parque de las Leyendas zoo has 215 species among mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects.
Some of the animal highlights include a lion, white tiger, striped tiger, black puma, crocodiles, hippopotamuses, seals, penguins, countless colorful parrots and a fun monkey exhibit where they display their acrobatic agility.
The animals are organized by the region of their native habitat: selva (jungle), sierra (mountains) or costa (coast). Then there is the felinario section for animals not native to Peru such as the giraffe, zebras and big cats.
The Selva section in particular was impressive with its red-sand ground, giant palms and thatched-roof huts. I bought a aguaje popsicle for only 2 soles (<$1) at a restaurant that specializes in Amazon cuisine.
Museums and other Attractions
Parque de las Leyendas also has three small museums showcasing the archaeology, artifacts and culture of the pre-Columbian peoples that inhabited Lima. The Petroperu museum, by Peru’s state oil firm, is all about drilling and refining oil. The Kalinowsky museum features a few snakes and scenes of taxidermy, and the Middendorf museum explains archaeology of the Lima region.
The park also has a botanical garden which you walk through in a partitioned sidewalk. It is a quick 10-minute walk through various species of trees and bushes. Not so many flowers.
Parque de las Leyendas features a man-made lake which has paddleboats. The children’s playground is big enough to be a park in itself. It has not only swings, slides and merry-go-rounds as well as more impressive stuff for larger children.
As stated earlier, Parque de las Leyendas was built on a pre-Hispanic site of huacas (Quechua for burial grounds or temples) built by the Lima civilization. Adobe walls sprout up throughout the park and even fence in animals. The Huaca Cruz Blanca is the largest exhibit. A roped off sidewalk allows you to get close to the ancient steps and terraces. Included in the pictures below are images of how the indigenous populations lived in the area before the arrival of the Spaniards.
The city of Lima frequently uses Parque de las Leyendas to hold seasonal specials and concerts. The day I took pictures was the Halloween Criollo, when they had actors dressed up in scary disguises. The Peruvian Michael Jackson performed in the Chabuca Granda auditorium (fancy name for a field), as did a Peruvian Paso horse.
Vendors located throughout the zoo sell light snacks and beverages which are very affordable. The restaurants charge 12 soles ($4) and up for a standard lunch, which is only a little overpriced for the value. For those on a tight budget, there are a dozen lunch stands just in front of the zoo which charge as little as $2.
Location and Ticket Info
Parque de las Leyendas is located in San Miguel district, just west of Pueblo Libre and Peru’s Pontifical Catholic University, south of Avenida Venezuela and west of Avenida Universitaria.
Tickets cost 14 soles ($4) for adults, 8 soles ($2) for children aged 3 to 12 years old and free of charge for seniors over 60 years old.
See the website to confirm ticket price or to check for upcoming events: www.leyendas.gob.pe.
Also see Parque de las Leyendas on Facebook.