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.
The zoo in my hometown consistently ranks in the top two in the United States. Despite my high standards I think 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.
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 experience.
The walls even form some of the animals’ habitats, as seen in these deer.
The zoo is divided into four themes, based on Peru’s three geographical regions of Coast, Sierra and Jungle, and the fourth area is for animals from abroad. The Jungle is the most memorable with its red dirt ground.
And the life of the party in the jungle is the monkey island, which always attracts a crowd.
Here’s a white tiger from the international area. The zoo also has an orange tiger.
I was carrying my four-year-old boy on my shoulders when we passed these panthers and jaguar, which made me look eight feet tall. The unexpected size attracted the attention of the alpha jaguar on top, who didn’t take his eyes off me for a full five minutes.
I don’t want any trouble!
From the coastal area, the active seals are always a crowd-pleaser. They can be viewed from above or underwater through a window.
The giraffe show was an unexpected surprise.
Parque de las Leyendas is much more than a zoo. The playgrounds, which have both free and premium attractions, is in itself one of the largest children’s attractions in Lima.
Beyond the playgrounds is a lake with paddleboats.
Museums and other Attractions
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.
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.
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.
Location and 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.
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.
For more videos, see the crowd dance with Peruvian Michael Jackson or the Peruvian Paso horse. Click the pictures below to enlarge. For high-res slideshow viewing, see the Parque de las Leyendas album on the Lima City of Kings Facebook page.