Jorge Chávez International Airport (IATA: LIM, ICAO: SPJC, formerly SPIM) is Peru’s main airport. The airport is located in Callao, the port city of Lima. It’s currently the hub for a number of airlines, the biggest ones being LATAM and Avianca Peru. The Peruvian Army, Navy and Air Force also have aircraft based at this airfield. The airport was named after Jorge Chávez Dartnell, a well known Peruvian aviator.
Lima is a really interesting place to do plane-spotting due to the rare airplanes that fly in and out on a daily basis, e.g AN-32, Fokker 60, 737-200… Sadly, spotting at this airport is dangerous. This is both due to the fact that security will attempt to kick you from most spots if they see you, but most importantly because the areas surrounding the airport aren’t safe.
You’ll need a car to get around (or hire a taxi for the day as I did). I’d recommend speaking to local spotters before heading out.
Proceed at your own risk!
Repsol Gas Station – Runway 15 arrivals
Probably the safest spot around the airport. From here you’ll be able to take pictures of aircraft landing on runway 15 from sunrise until approximately 1 PM, as you will have backlight by that time. You’ll need a 70-300mm lens to get decent pictures without cropping too much. Regarding facilities, you have various banks, a pharmacy and a restaurant/shop (with toilets) all at your disposal.
To reach this spot, follow Faucett Avenue until you get to a roundabout (Óvalo 200 Millas). You’ll see the gas station to your right. The exact coordinates for this spot are: -11.99696, -77.12433.
Although planespotting isn’t illegal in Peru, security guards tend to ask you to leave. I had two encounters like this with different persons, but after explaining what I was doing I was allowed to stay.
Shop – Runway 15 arrivals
This spot is more risky than the previous one, but just because it’s located on a more secluded place. From here you also get to watch airplanes landing on runway 15, but from a better angle. Take a look at the Hercules above. You can see more belly than anything else! That won’t happen from this spot. A 70-300mm lens is also recommendable for this spot.
There is also small shop available, even a bench to sit on.
To get to this spot also follow Faucett Av. until you see a gas station. Just before reaching it, you’ll see a small road to your left. Turn there, and inmediately turn right again. You should arrive at a dead end street. The coordinates are: -11.99942, -77.12234.
Some tips for this location – try not to hang around for a long time, as security will eventually arrive and ask you to leave. If they do so, just take a step back from the fence and they shouldn’t be able to do anything.
Construction Work – Runway 15 arrivals
NOTE: This spot will probably be closed soon as the construction work has been finished.
Just opposite from the previous spot is a patch of land where construction work is going on. This is the go-to spot for landing pictures during the afternoon. You’ll be able to see airplanes approaching runway 15. Once again, a 70-300mm lens is the best for this location. The area is mostly safe, but still, it’s recommendable to go as part of a group. There are absolutely no facilities nearby, make sure to bring all of the stuff you need with you!
To reach this location follow Nestor Gambetta Road until almost the end. You’ll see an entrance to the right, go in there. The coordinates of this spot are: -12.00045, -77.12653.
Gambetta/Los Ferroles – Runway 15 arrivals
Seeing that the location above isn’t going to last for a long time, the only alternative is to take pictures from Nestor Gambetta itself. I don’t encourage doing this in a group, and going alone is suicide. This spot is extremely dangerous, only use it if something really rare is flying in during the afternoon. You’ll see aircraft landing on runway 15 from a better angle (that is, if a truck doesn’t get in your way). There’s nothing near other than a lot of trailers and vans, so once again, bring everything you need.
The spot is located on the intersection of a small road called Los Ferroles and Gambetta itself. Coordinates are: -12.00341, -77.12731.
Important tips – it’s preferrable to stay in the car until you see the airplane you want to catch. After taking a photo of it, leave. Stay aware of your surroundings!
Minka – Runway 15 departures
Minka is a giant mall located a few blocks away from the start of the runway. Although you are very far away from the airplanes (you’d need a 600mm lens to correctly shoot a 737), it’s still the best spot for departures at Lima. You’ll be able to watch airplanes departing runway 15, with some of them even banking in front of you. The light here is good during the afternoon. Because the spot is located inside a mall, it’s mostly safe. Even so, take precautions and try to keep a low profile.
To get here, enter Minka and head to the highest level of the Metro parking lot. Park wherever you like and wait for the airplanes! Coordinates are: -12.04733, -77.11203.
Cerro La Regla – Runway 15 arrivals/departures
Another good place to spot aircraft approaching Jorge Chavez Airport is a hill called “Cerro La Regla”. From this location you get to watch airplanes landing and taking off on runway 15. Sadly, the departures will be too distorted to take photos because of the extreme heat haze present everywhere in Peru. To take photos of the landings you’ll need a 100-400mm lens. You could do OK with a 300mm lens, but you’d have to crop a lot. The light is good from sunrise to around 1 PM, but I’d recommend leaving at 9 AM as all photos will have heat haze from that hour on.
To access this hill, you’ll need to enter via an illegal cemetery. There is no indicated path, only a small unpaved road that takes you to the top of it (the hill). Regarding the safety of the area, I do not recommend going alone as it’s a very desolate area. The coordinates are: -11.99126, -77.12021.
Makro – Runway 15 departures
Makro is a department store located near Faucett Avenue in Callao. It offers great viewing possibilities due to having its parking garage high up. From this spot, you’ll be able to see the belly of aircraft departing to the north. Some of them even start banking just over you! A 70-300mm lens is the best option for here.
To get there, just ask your taxi driver to take you to “Makro Callao”. If going on a rental car, put the following coordinates on your GPS: -12.05058, -77.0991.
So, those are all the spots available at Lima! You can find more info below clicking on the links below.
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section. Enjoy spotting at Peru! 🙂