The Parque de las Leyendas is Lima's traditional zoo. But it's much more than that. It is located amidst a big part of Lima's most extensive ancient city and is one of the most important pre-Hispanic complexes at the central Peruvian coast called the Archaeological Complex of Maranga. The Botanical Garden within the park has more than 20ha of green areas and is one of the biggest in Peru.
The park successfully manages to combine ecology, archaeology, education and relaxation. The Botanical Garden is with over 3200 individual plants, including 1800 botanical species (angiosperms and gymnosperms) one of the biggest in Peru and covers around 5ha.
The Botanical Garden of the Parque de las Leyendas is divided into 16 sections, displaying the rich diversity of plants that Peru has to offer. Among others there is a garden for vulnerable and endangered native plants, an orchid garden, a Limeñan cactus garden, a pilot garden with plants for medical use, an arboretum and green houses for palm trees, zamias and peperomias.
While wandering around the extensive area you can't miss the pyramidal structures that served different ingenious civilizations as temples and burial grounds. In the Parque de las Leyendas are some very interesting museums like the Museo Ernst. W. Middendorf, displaying artifacts and mummies found in the different religious and ceremonial centers, the Museo Petroleo, offering an educational exhibition about the process of exploration, exploitation and the transforming of crude oil and its derivatives and finally the Museo Celestino Kalinosky with an amazing butterfly exhibition.
Over all the Parque de las Leyendas is an ideal place to spend a day watching animals, learning more about the Peruvian history and ancient cultures or just relaxing and enjoying the cactus garden, picnic area, playground, horse riding, the unique flora and of course the food in one of the restaurants. It is an amazing natural treasure within the chaotic 8 million metropolis and a great chance to learn about Peru's rich biodiversity and Lima's ancient past. To really enjoy the park you should avoid going there on weekends as it might be too crowded.