Hundreds of wonders 10,000 years of history can be seen in one of the largest networks of archeology found in the world – and the largest in South America. Progress reached by the ancient Peruvians in the areas of arts and science never ceases to amaze. Take, for example, the city of Caral, the oldest in the Americas. Then, there is Machu Picchu, Incan citadel and newly elected Wonder of the World. Yet, there is so much more: the Nasca Lines, the pyramids of the North hiding their mysteries, like those of the Lord of Sipán and the Governess of Cao, the fortress of Kuélap, Chan Chan, the Qapac Ñan (Inca Trail), and the list goes on since Peru is a catalogue of treasures that bear witness to its glorious past
See it with your own eyes. When it comes to birds, Peru is so fabulous that it seems almost unreal. Peru is first in the world in both new bird species discovered per year and the number of birds seen in just one day (without the help of motor vehicles), a fact reflected in its skies that are decorated with close to 2,000 bird species, from the sacred Andean condor to the scarlet-banded barbet (Capito wallacei), which is one of the latest ornithological discoveries. Do not forget to bring your camera and your capacity to be amazed.
Paragliding and Hang-Gliding
Free fiight lovers will feel overjoyed by what they can do in Peru. The Sacred Valley of the Incas (Cusco) provides flyers the experience of soaring over Incan ruins, and, in the Huaylas Valley of Áncash, they can float on winds that blow between towering mountains. Likewise, along the Costa Verde boardwalk in Lima, you can fly above the ocean waves and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city.
Peru holds the world’s record for fish diversity. Here, the sheer quantity of fish being spawned along the coast and in rivers and lakes of the Andes and the Amazon is mind boggling. There are three Amazonian species considered trophies in the world of fishing: the chambira or payara, the tucunare (peacock bass), and the dorado. In the north, the beaches of Cabo Blanco and Máncora are famous sites for marlin fishing, where a world record breaking specimen weighing 1,542 pounds was caught. There, beneath the waters, await even larger marlins for the intrepid to come along and be conquered. Then, in the south, there is the Paracas National Reserve and farther south the coast of Mollendo, which are also waiting for your visit.
Most cities in Peru offer a variety of nightlife. In Lima, there are peñas (locales offering traditional live music), disco techs, pubs, and night clubs in several districts, yet the most popular are found in Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco. The location of nightlife locales in other cities is normally in the downtown (main square and its surroundings).
To trek Peru is to journey through incredibly beautiful Andean countryside with a backdrop of everlastingly white mountains and crystal clear lakes, to walk along the Qapac Ñan (Inca Trail), that network of roads built by the Incas to unite their empire, and to see the culture of communities that adorn the pathways. There are trekking routes that take you on adventures through the White and Huayhuash Ranges in Áncash as well as many others in the department of Cusco that will lead you to Machu Picchu.
After the Himalayas, the Andes are the highest mountains in the world. One of those mountains is Mount Huascarán, located in the White Range, which happens to be the highest mountain found anywhere in the tropics. Along with this record breaking mountain are dozens of others that surpass 5,000 masl (16,400 fasl). The Peruvian Andes feature mountains of different technical diffculty levels – from high to medium to easy – as well as the chance to make first assaults and to open new climbing routes.
Part of the attraction to mountain biking through Peru is the opportunity to discover ancient Incan and pre-Incan trails, visit archeological sites and picturesque villages, as well as to ride through different ecological tiers in just a few hours. There is one route, starting in the town of Olleros, south of Lima, where you can descend 3,600 meters (11,808 feet) in a ride that is just 70 kilometers (113 miles) long. Pachacámac (Lima), Cusco, Puno, Arequipa and the Colca Canyon are also great places for cyclists.
The Peruvian coastline is bathed by Pacific waves all year long. If you go north, the best surfing beaches are Máncora, Los Órganos, Cabo Blanco, Lobitos, Pacasmayo, Chicama – which is famous for having the longest left hand wave in the world – and Huanchaco. In the center of the country, great surf beaches are Señoritas, Caballeros, Punta Hermosa, Punta Rocas, site of one World Qualifying Series surfing tournament, Pico Alto, whose waves are compared to those in Hawaii.
White Water Rafting and Kayaking
The Peruvian Andes and their plunging canyons turn this country into a magnificent stage for rafting and kayaking. The most renowned rivers are the Apurímac in Apurímac (class II and V), the Cotahuasi in Arequipa (class V), and the Tambopata in the jungle. For kayaking, the best place is Lake Titicaca (Puno), the highest navigable lake in the world.
Punta Sal (Tumbes)
For many this is the finest spot along Peru's north coast, with sun and tranquility guaranteed year-round. Punta Sal is a small beach resort in the department of Tumbes fringed by sand dunes and groves of carob trees. A semi-circular beach lapped by warm water and gentle waves make this beach a welcoming paradise.
Máncora and Las Pocitas (Piura)
Piura is home to the legendary beach of Máncora a favorite with the surfing set, particularly from November to January, when the best waves are to be found. Beach-goers who are not surf-mad head for Las Pocitas, a rock formation near the beach, where natural pools have formed, an ideal spot for a quiet swim. Vacationers fond of hot springs will find them at Quebrada Fernández, natural thermal baths where hot mineral-laden water bubbles up from underground.
Some 16 km north of Paita lies Colán, also known as La Esmeralda, one of Peru's most scenic coves, where the houses have been built on top of wooden pilings by the seaside. Colán also features a small airstrip. Just 10 minutes away on a desert plain lies San Lucas de Colán in Piura, the site of the first church built in Peru, the work of Dominican friars in 1536.
Chicama (La Libertad)
This beach is home to the world's longest wave, but is not surprisingly a surfing hotspot. The saying goes that to surf Chicama, one needs a spare set of legs. The waves are spurred with the southern and western currents. This fishing cove, also known as Malabrigo, is reached via a detour at the town of Paiján, at Kilometer 614 of the North Pan-American Highway.
Huanchaco (La Libertad)
Huanchaco lies 11 km northwest of Trujillo, and is popular amongst backpackers and night-owls.
There is little doubt that Paracas features one of the most spectacular stretches of coast along the Peruvian shoreline. Here, the barren desert runs down to a deep blue sea, with sweeping beaches, towering cliffs and bluffs carved out by the waves.
Peru’s distinguishing seal is its living culture, an experience you definitely cannot miss out on. Whether it is about participating in ancient rituals, like an offering to the earth, or working in the fields next to farmers, forming part of the parades during one of the many festivals, riding a Peruvian paso horse, or learning to dance to Afro-Peruvian or Andean music, go ahead and do it because it is going to make you feel more like home. The best way of enjoying the hospitality and kindness of a place where friendship lives is through experiential tourism.
Market research indicates that Peru is perceived all over the world as a country possessing a great historic legacy and as the birthplace of one the world’s most ancient and important civilizations. This attribute makes Peru a destination that owns a great potential for establishing emotional connections with the traveler.
The latest study conducted by the consulting firm FutureBrand (2008), based on a survey with 2,700 travelers from nine different countries, places Peru as the most valued tourist destination of the American continent regarding culture, history and authenticity.
Peruvians of today have inherited customs and traditions from civilizations that developed centuries before the arrival of Europeans, and that meeting of two worlds produced a melting pot that was further enriched by contributions from African and Asian people who also settled roots in this land. Peru is also an encounter between the ancient and the modern, a place where past and present live side by side. The result is a culture that lives and breathes, reinventing itself every day.
Peru celebrates almost 3,000 festivals a year. Most of them are held in homage to a patron saint or are part of the Christian calendar blended with the magical beliefs of ancient forms of worship. Here is just a sampling of the most popular festivals by month.
Marinera Festival — City of Trujillo (January & February) The Mansiche Arena in Trujillo is the stage for the National Marinera Contest, the most elegant by couples dance in Peru. Both dancers swirl while waving a white kerchief and executing a number of characteristic steps. The male dancer wears a poncho and a hat, and if riding horseback, rides a Peruvian Paso horse. His lady wears a beautiful typical regional dress.
Virgin de la Candelaria — City of Puno (Early February) On the central day, the Virgin parades the city in a colorful procession, followed by more than 200 bands of musicians and a similar number of groups who dance around the city and compete for prizes in the local stadium. The festival is related to the pre-Hispanic farming cycles of planting and harvesting (worshipping Pachamama or Mother Earth), as well as with the region's mining activity.
Easter — City of Ayacucho — (March-April)
With its 33 churches, Ayacucho presents on this date the most fervent Andean staging of the Way of the Cross, with several daily processions on the city's streets. At dawn Christ Resurrected leaves the cathedral, a moment that the faithful wait for after a night-long wake around bonfires they light in the Main Square to fight the cold. They all carry the Lord in joy on a wax portable altar.
Peruvian Paso Horse Festival — City of Lima (April- May)
This contest takes place in Mamacona, at the foot of the pre-Inca Pachacamac oracle. The Peruvian Paso horse is a breed of Spanish and Berber races. Its gait is a series of synchronized movements of the front and rear legs in parallel fashion, a trait that has made it one of the most beautiful and elegant horses in the world.
Corpus Christi — City of Cusco (May-June)
Fifteen saints and virgins from different Cusco districts arrive at the cathedral in procession to salute Christ's body in the form of a consecrated wafer kept in the fabulous 26-kg massif gold custody. During the night wake, typical dishes, such as chiriuchu (guinea pig and hot peppers), chicha and corn bread, are served. As soon as the sun rises, the parade starts around the main square, and then the images enter the cathedral to salute each other. Finally, the delegations go back to their churches in the midst of songs and prayers.
Inti Raymi — 1 mile from the City of Cusco (June 24)
Inti Raymi is the Sun's festival. It coincides with the winter solstice and the harvest season. The Sacsayhuaman fortress is the stage for the ceremony, following a detailed script, including the sacrifice of two llamas to tell the future. The Inca, who urges the authorities in Cusco's main square to govern well, presides over the ceremony. At dusk, the Inca announces the end of the day's ceremonies and merry-making starts.
The Virgin of El Carmen — City of Paucartambo, Cusco Region (July 15-16) The Virgin of El Carmen or Mamacha Carmen, patroness of mixed-blood people, is worshipped in a colorful procession of her image along the village streets with music and singing in Quechua, and groups representing passages of the history of Peru. On the central day, the Virgin blesses the attendants and casts off demons that perform risky acrobatics on roof tops. The grand finale is a war against demons in which the faithful triumph.
The Lord of the Miracles — City of Lima (late October)
This image gathers the largest numbers of devotees in South America. It dates back to colonial times, when a black slave painted it on the walls of a run-down property. In spite of earthquakes and attempts at erasing it, the miraculous image has remained intact. Thousands of believers dressed in purple habits sing and pray to accompany the image in procession. It is a date to enjoy "turrón de Doña Pepa" (a nougat) and delicious "picarones" (ring-shaped fritters). Bull fighting at Plaza de Acho attracts the most prestigious bullfighters of Spain and the Americas.
Peruvian cuisine is characterized by a wide variety of traditional dishes from the coast, highlands, and jungle. You can find all kinds of restaurants to discover this mixture of flavors; from the highly sophisticated to simple and inexpensive establishments. When it comes to ordering food, some dishes are usually served intensely seasoned. Asking restaurant staff about the seasoning in a particular dish before ordering is wise.
We recommend Peru Mucho Gusto as an excellent resource for investigating Peru's rich culinary heritage.
Museum of Cao (1 hour from Trujillo)
A new Site Museum opened its doors on the archaeological complex of Huaca Rajada in La Libertad, where a few years ago the Lady of Cao, a divine member of the Moche royalty, was discovered. In this modern museum, besides showing the latest findings, the history of how the civilizations that existed in the area got together will be told.
El Brujo Archaeological Complex is an ancient ceremonial center, where the legacy of 5,000 years of human occupation can be contemplated. The building houses six rooms containing archaeological material, an exhibition room for the mummy of the Lady of Cao, auditorium, a laboratory and meeting rooms. The Museum's main goal is to present the cultural process that took place at El Brujo Complex, and to reinforce the importance of this site into the archaeological and tourism circuit that has been developing in Northern Peru.
Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum (15 minutes from Chiclayo)
A modern building inspired in the ancient pyramidal architecture of the Moche culture, this musuem is as well a mausoleum to 16 tombs discovered in the Sipán Archaeological Complex.
The Larco Museum (Lima)
Founded in 1926, the Larco Museum is one of the most visited Peruvian tourist attractions. It showcases remarkable chronological galleries through 3,000 years of development of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It features the finest gold and silver collection from Ancient Peru and the famous erotic archaeological collection.
The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru (Lima)
This is the oldest state museum in the country and constitutes the administrative center of the National System of State Museums. Ceramics, textiles, metals, organic materials and lithics - related to invaluable human remains preserved with techniques that still surprise specialists - are part of the museum’s amazing collection.
The Amano Museum (Lima)
Here visitors will find the private collection of Mr. Yoshitaro Amano showcasing selected pieces of ceramics and textiles, arranged chronologically to illustrate the development of weaving throughout Peru’s pre-Columbian cultures and featuring special items from the Chancay culture.
The Enrico Poli’s Private Collection (Lima)
This museum features pre-Columbian and Colonial art. Inside his colonial style home, Poli has amassed one of the best private collections in the world, including many pieces recovered from the Lord of Sipan tomb.
Machu Picchu (“Old Mountain” in Quechua)
Spread out over 38,448 hectares, this area protects 34 archeological sites, including the citadel of the same name, all of which are connected via the Inca Trail and shelters an incredible variety of plants and animals. Because it is situated in rough, semi-tropical mountain terrain, it possesses nine different life zones. The altitude of the sanctuary ranges from 6,500 fasl to 19,600 fasl, from sub-tropical regions, or the eyebrow of the jungle, to high Andean regions (Puna). Greatest natural wealth is located in the wet, tropical zones between 6,500 fasl and 9,800 fasl. There, 350 orchid species have been discovered as well as a big number of vinesand bromeliads. Wildlife diversity is also mind-boggling. 432 bird species are on record, among them being the Cock of the Rock (Rupícola peruviana) and many different hummingbirds. In terms of large mammals, you can see the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatos), the puma (Puma concolor) and the dwarf brocket (Mazama chunyi), a species of deer. And let us not forget the amazing diversity or reptiles, amphibians and insects.
Machu Picch is an impressive sight as it rises out of the midst of a group of green covered mountains in southern Peru, 7,874 fasl in a steamy, semitropical region. Its beauty touches the visitors’ senses and the mysteries surrounding it keep people asking as yet unresolved questions. Why was this city built in a hidden spot of the South American jungle? What did Machu Picchu really mean to the Incas? How was it possible for them to move gargantuan stones that fit perfectly one to another to construct such immense walls? These are just some of the questions that tantalize the imagination of scientists and tourists as they seek to unravel its mysteries, so much so that there are even those who believe supernatural intervention was needed to explain the perfection of Machu Picchu’s architecture. Nevertheless, what really matters about this city is that it holds a different meaning for every person. This is, perhaps, the reason why so many people are convinced that mystical energies flow from its stones, like a huge fountain capable of reviving the most exhausted of travelers.
Manu National Park
Comprised in the Manu Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO Humankind Natural Heritage site since 1987, the park’s vast animal and plant diversity thrive in the site’s more than 1.76 million hectares ranging from high Andean to tropical rainforest ecosystems where trees tower above 45 meters / 146 feet.
Numerous mammals (200 species), insects (one million), fish (120 types) and birds (1000). Varieties include giant otters, spectacled bear, pumas, jaguars, caimans, harpy eagles and maquisapa monkeys. Its wealth comes not only from nature but also from the cultures of 30 indigenous peasant and Amazon Indian communities living within its borders. Scenic sites include the Jaguar and Salvador oxbow lakes, the macaw clay lick and the painted stones of Pusharo. Located in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios, province of Paucartambo, districts of Paucartambo and Piscota.
Pacaya - Samiria National Reserve
Because of its size, it is considered the most important protected natural area in Peru. Thousands of fish spawn in its lakes, such as the paiche, the largest Amazon fish. Yet, also found there are the highly sought after pink dolphin, the black caiman, the river otter, the manatee and the side-necked taricaya turtle. To enter this reserve you need a permission issued by the National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA).
Tambopata – Candamo National Reserve
The Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve, in the southeastern corner of the region, is known to possess the greatest diversity of mammal, tree, insect, and bird species in the world as well as the world record for the amount of butterfly species. The protected area features eight life zones: subtropical humid forest, tropical humid forest, subtropical high-humidity forest, subtropical high-humidity foothills cloud forest, subtropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest foothills, subtropical lower foothills cloud forest and semi-flooded subtropical cloud forest. Among the tribes that live in the reserve are the Esse'eja' o 'huarayos, Quechuas and Aymaras. Their activities include agriculture (coffee), hunting, fishing and foraging. Wildlife species include 1,234 types of different butterflies, 592 of birds, 127 of amphibians, 103 of mammals and 74 of reptiles. Researchers have discovered a large number of species that are now rarely found elsewhere in the Amazon jungle due to poaching, particularly of tapirs and spider monkeys, but also jaguars, white-lipped peccary, medium sized and large monkeys and caiman.
Allpahuayo - Mishana National Reserve
To experience virgin wilderness near Iquitos, there’s nothing better than jumping into a car and driving down the finite asphalt road from Iquitos to Nauta. In less than thirty minutes, you will reach the Allpahuayo – Mishana National Reserve, an enchanted forest sitting on top of white sands. With an area of 142,272 acres, Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve (AMNR) contains 500 varieties of trees per 2.5 acres, more than any site on earth, and nearly 100 plant species that do not exist anywhere else in the world. The flora of the reserve is diverse with over 1,900 species.
Iquitos offers a surprising range of accommodation possibilities, from five-star and home-style three-star hotels in the city, to tourist lodges with all the comforts sprinkled throughout the city’s outskirts. Iquitos also has a host of restaurants to satisfy the most refined of palates, where chefs take advantage of regional resources, yet also prepare international foods. The paiche, an extraordinary Amazon fish, is a main ingredient for dishes in which its delicious meat is marinated in tropical fruit juices before being accompanied by different sauces. Worth mentioning are stimulating traditional drinks, like huitochado and chuchuhuasi, which are reported phrodisiacs. A great variety of handicrafts can be found in this area, such as pottery featuring geometric designs, hand-painted fabrics and many other objects, both decorative and utilitarian, made from materials found in the region.
NORTHERN PERU (MOCHE ROUTE)
No other city in Peru has mansions as lovely as Trujillo does. Its downtown is full of splendid examples of Colonial and Republican (19th century) architecture. Stunningly pastel colored, huge and luxurious mansions are decked out with magnificent balconies, elegant portals and spacious entryways, though their distinctiveness is seen in striking windows that are adorned on the outside with decorative iron bars.
Like few capitals, Trujillo places everything at your fingertips. It could even be said that several smaller cities coexist within the same geographic space: exquisite sections with Colonial architecture, other sectors with discreet touches of modernity, as well as a scattering of regal pre-Hispanic temples confer it the air of a world class city.
For instance, Trujillo has Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian mud city (15 square miles). A short distance from Trujillo, two temple mounds lay: Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and of the Moon), the former being the biggest mud pyramid in Peru and the latter exhibiting drawings of its principal gods on the walls. Also, north of the city, lies the El Brujo (The Wizard) an archeological complex that safeguarded the mummy of a female ruler, the Governess of Cao, whose spider and snake tattoos drawn on her arms have amazed the world.
On top of the desert sands and in the midst of valleys, ancient civilizations constructed sacred pyramids. But it was not until 1987, the year of the discovery of the Lord of Sipán (the most grandiose tomb in the Americas) that the world took notice of the importance of these temple mounds, fallen from grace on the outside but hiding splendor in the inside: Sicán, Túcume and Chotuna to name a few. As a result of the recovery, world class museums, the best in Peru, like the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum, have been built.
Not as visible as the temple mounds but equally important is the cuisine of Lambayeque and its use of foodstuffs that have been passed down through generations, like butternut squash and chicha de jora (a sort of corn beer). And we can certainly trace the people’s warmth back for centuries to the genetic memory of the ancient Mochica.
Living history, heavy with ocean breezes, is there, too, in fishermen’s coves like Pimentel and Santa Rosa, where the tiny crafts, known as caballitos de totora (little reed horses), return to the beaches under the setting afternoon sun just as they have for 3,000 years.
Another site that combines history and nature is the Chaparrí Forest, 1.5 hours from Chiclayo. It is heaven on earth, where you can see among carob tree branches, spectacled bears, deer and pumas as well as ancient religious sanctuaries displaying sophisticated rock paintings.
Once in the city of Chachapoyas, you will be bewitched, in a blink of an eye, by its magic. It is a city wrapped still in a veil of mystery. Its narrow streets are absolutely lovely, its desserts and sweets are extremely tasty, and the patios of its houses are decked with orchids. Even if Chachapoyas looks like any highland city, it heavily carries the scent of the jungle.
On par with the grandeur of Machu Picchu is 2,000 year old Kuélap, a fortress with 65 foot walls and fascinating stone friezes, a symbol of the Chachapoyas culture. Yet this is just the scratching of the surface when it comes to tourist destinations. There are literally hundreds of archeological vestiges strewn along the Utcubamba River Valley. The best example of this is the Karajía 2 sarcophagi, standing 6.5 feet tall and embedded in a cliff wall that falls straight down; these monuments are reminders of some ancient cult of the dead.
Lima is an entertaining, friendly and gourmet city. It was the most prized jewel of the Spanish colonies and for 300 years the wealthiest city in the Americas. Instead of raising palaces for its kings, Lima built grand churches that guard valuable collections of masterpieces and constructed mansions for the aristocracy. Its historic center was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1991, yet it is much more than this illustrious title.
Lima is also a city of fascinating museums that exhibit treasures that were uncovered at archeological sites from pre-Hispanic cultures. Then again, there is also the district of Miraflores, lying on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, facing both the open sea and modern life, where avant-garde condominiums rise sparkling into the sky and glittering shopping malls are within walking distance of each other. You can also find such modernity in San Isidro, with its lovely residential neighborhoods, large parks and restaurants and open air cafes filled with lively conversations.
The outskirts of Lima also have their fair share of attractions. From Callao, you can take a boat ride to visit sea lions and marine birds that find shelter on the Palomino Islands, and, for the more adventuresome, sail out to the continental shelf and watch whales sporting in the waves. South of the city is Pachacamac, a pre-Hispanic complex that was site of the most important pilgrimage shrine in ancient Peru. And a short distance north sits the remains of Caral, the oldest city in the Americas, built 5,000 years ago.
Shopping in Lima
Peru’s rich cultural history has been handed down through generations of artisans. From weavers living high in the Andes, to the silversmiths of Lima, many of the crafts have changed little for centuries, while others have incorporated contemporary artistic ideas and design. Peru’s local artists produce some of the richest and most unique handicrafts found anywhere. A great variety of shopping venues – tiny boutiques, artisan market stalls, and antique shops to large shopping malls await visitors. Peru has a long tradition of textile weaving and alpaca-wool sweaters, blankets, ponchos, shawls, scarves, typical Peruvian hats, and other woven items. In Lima, handicrafts from all over the country can be found in vast covered markets, both in downtown Lima and Miraflores.
Lodging in Lima
Lima offers a wide array of lodging options, from 5-star luxury hotels to homespun inns. The Historic Centre has limited options, so most visitors stay in Miraflores and San Isidro. Lima’s hotel offering includes renowned international chains like Orient Express, JW Marriott, Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, Westin, DoubleTree, Sol Meliá, and Radisson. Dozens of independent hotels, pensiones and hostals are also available.
Or Caral-Supe civilization was a complex Pre-Columbian society that included as many as 30 major population centers in north-central coastal Peru. Located about three hours north of Lima, the region is home to the oldest known civilization in the Americas and one of the six sites where civilization separately originated on the planet. It flourished between the 3,000 BC and the 1,800 BC. A complex society in Caral emerged just a millennium after Sumer in Mesopotamia, and it pre-dated the Mesoamerican Olmec by nearly two millennia. Caral is a World Heritage site of extraordinary significance to human history.
An enigma of immense proportions that is a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Even though German researcher Maria Reiche spent 50 years studying them and other investigators still continue in her wake, nobody can give a clear reason why the ancient Peruvians drew figures of animals and plants (birds, a monkey, a spider, a whale and others) on the desert soil that were so big you could only see them from the air though they had no means of flight.
One of the best wildlife refuges on the Peruvian coast. This habitat of sea lions, Humboldt penguins, and flamingos as well as site of heavenly beaches. Paracas is synonymous with natural and scenic beauty, definitely worth a visit
One of a kind architecture plus a profound feeling of history equals one of the most seductive cities on the planet: Cusco. Radiant by day, Cusco’s main square dresses itself up for a party at night, soft yellow lights illuminating lovely arcades and the head turning facades of the Cathedral and the Church of the Company of Jesus.
Upon leaving the city limits one comes face to face with what looks like a sort of an Incan theme park in Sacsayhuamán–with menhirs standing up to 29.5 feet and weighing 350 tons. A little farther along, there are other sacred sites, like Qenko, or the very popular Baños del Inca (Inca baths) or Tambomachay, a fascinating site dedicated to worship water.
Then, there is the Sacred Valley of the Incas, an overcharged natural setting. Eye pleasing agricultural terraces descend down the mountains, like giant stair steps. The air is filled with the scent of baking bread, prepared in mud ovens, and endless fields of corn dance with the wind. Under the intense blue sky sit picturesque villages like Písac, Yucay and Ollantaytambo, and on their outskirts lie noteworthy Incan palaces.
Machu Picchu, the magical citadel, brings the visitor within reach of an intact ancient world where history is found in every nook and cranny. Lest we forget, recently opened Choquequirao, is another Incan site that takes the breath away. In Cusco, the word mystical gets its true meaning.
Machu Picchu ("Old Mountain" in Quechua)
Machu Picchu is an impressive sight as it rises out of the midst of a group of green covered mountains in southern Peru, in a steamy, semitropical region. Its beauty touches the visitors’ senses and the mysteries surrounding it keep people asking as yet unresolved questions. Why was this city built in a hidden spot of the South American jungle? What did Machu Picchu really mean to the Incas? How was it possible for them to move gargantuan stones that fit perfectly one to another to construct such immense walls? These are just some of the questions that tantalize the imagination of scientists and tourists as they seek to unravel its mysteries, so much so that there are even those who believe supernatural intervention was needed to explain the perfection of Machu Picchu’s architecture.
Nevertheless, what really matters about this city is that it holds a different meaning for every person. This is, perhaps, the reason why so many people are convinced that mystical energies flow from its stones, like a huge fountain capable of reviving the most exhausted of travelers.
UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 1983 and the world has recently voted it as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
A World Heritage Site as designated by UNESCO, the White City knows well how to maintain its Colonial heritage to the point that you can do your banking in old and gorgeous mansions. The downtown is particularly beautiful, with a heart of finished white volcanic stone called sillar that has been fashioned into arches, façades and cupolas. Its people are kind and enjoy good conversation and relish living under the watchful gaze of their guardian volcano, Mount Misti. An added bonus is the 340 days of brilliant sun as well as the exquisite main square, conquered by noisy pigeons, and demonstrations of its people’s hospitality.
The department of Arequipa is dominated by the Andean Mountains with the chain reaching the very lip of the continent at Atico, a coastline zone with beautiful beaches. In Chala, the closest coastal point to the department of Cusco, the Incas built citadels with stone in front of the sea. As there are huge snowcapped mountains rising high into the sky, so are there deep wounds in the surface of the Earth. Canyons like Cotahuasi and Colca, that start out as fertile, terraced and pleasant valleys that later taper and plunge into dizzying canyons. These are some of the deepest places found on the planet, yet places where kind people live, the wind blows strongly and shrimp abound.
The Lagunas de Mejía National Sanctuary is the only stopping point for over 2,000 kilometers for more than 70 species of migratory birds. The list is long, yet there is still a rather important footnote to Arequipa, and that is its famous and diversified cuisine, full of scents and concoctions that match its magnificent landscape and towering volcanoes.
A visitor arrives in Puno with one look on his face and leaves with an entirely different one, more real and lasting. Maybe it is the humbling presence of the Titicaca, out of whose sparkling waters rise ancient legends. Or, perhaps it is the fantastic looking Sillustani chullpas (burial towers) lining the lake shore. Who knows.
The splendor of its churches are equally hard to forget, such as Saint Dominic in Chucuito, built in 1534 and being the first and oldest church on this high plateau. It is also likely that Puno’s enchantment rests in its people, their reserved nature, yet their joy, and the way they welcome visitors. Maybe it is all the aforementioned reasons everything added together.
Puno is a land that never stops surprising. It may be the aluminum rooftops that compete in shimmer with the blue steel lake waters in the sunlight, or the fact that the city relishes its provincial mood, its Aymara and Quechua soul and a legendary connection to its greatest treasure – the sacred lake of the Incas and its wonderful islands, which covers the eyes of its visitors with a special magic.
But not everything down there is simple observation. Puno is a city on the move every day of the year; it is hard not to find a festival, like the one celebrating Our Lady of Candlemas, where dancers rock the stones of the Altiplano. Wearing brightly colored outfits, showy costumes and intricate masks, dancers twist and turn to the beat of the music, punctuated with drums and reed pipes, as if they were thanking the earth and the sky for the blessings of this unique city on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
The main handmade craft stores are found in the districts of Miraflores and Barranco downtown as well as the Larcomar mall. It is also possible to purchase crafts in the city's main shopping centers.
The sales tax (IGV) is 18%. Most stores, shopping centers, and handmade craft markets are open seven days a week (including holidays) from 9 A.M. to 8 P.M. You may bargain with street, market, and beach vendors on the price of some articles. This is called "regateo".