Peru’s vast landscape is rich and diverse in culture, sights, activities and experiences. The long stretches of coastline meet the Andes and then the lush green rainforest areas of the Amazon dramatically to create a constantly shifting landscape. Exploring Peru never gets boring and there’s a new experience around every corner that will have you pinching yourself and pleading to
never return home.
Machu Picchu is at the core of Peru’s tourism and proudly sits at the top of all international travellers’ bucket lists. An ancient Inca citadel, it is the most awe-inspiring and best-known archaeological site on the whole of South America. It’s hard to believe that until the early 20th Century Machu Picchu was largely lost to the world, as today its striking position in the dramatic mountain landscape is the focus of every keen travel photographers lens.
The function of Machu Picchu still remains hotly debated, some believing it an administrative centre for trade, others arguing it served as a royal estate to Pachacutec, the Inca ruler. Machu Picchu is a fantastic and exciting site to explore, and one of the best ways to reach it is by trekking the Inca trail. Other hikes and treks are on offer by many tourist companies around Machu Picchu that are shorter than the four day Inca trail. Top of your list at Machu Picchu has to be watching the sun set over its striking ancient stonework, behind the sublime mountains.
Inside the ruins are the Temple of the Sun, the Sacred Plaza, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Ceremonial Baths and other historically rich sites. Hiking up around the main site will lead you to other ruins such as the Temple of the moon up the Wayne Picchu mountain or the Inca drawbridge only a half an hour walk away. A less crowded option than Wayne Picchu, and therefore worth the more challenging climb, head up to the top of the Machu Picchu mountain. It should take around 2 hours and offers sweeping views of the valleys and lush landscape. Machu Picchu is not to be missed on your visit to Peru, and for the full experience, join the thousands of travellers who walk the Inca Trail every year.
The chaotic capital Lima is another amazing experience in Peru. This vast city scape sits on Peru’s coastline and creates a dramatic image of skyscrapers rising up from the steep cliffs and sea below. Lima is loud, colourful and culturally diverse an exciting. The cuisine is some of the most delicious in the world, offering a seemingly endless list of restaurants and cafes to sample the famous stews and ceviche (marinated seafood).
Lima’s past is essential to explore if you wish to get a full sense of the character of the city. The museums spread around the city are easy to wander so start with Museum Larco, exhibits detailing the Andean inhabitants, and move on to search the Museo de Arte de Lima and Museo de Oro del Peru. Also take time to gaze at the splendid churches and cathedrals that tower ornately over buildings of the city.
Adventure can still be found in the city and one of the best things to do in Lima is paragliding. Soar over the Milaflores clifftops and over the shoppers and diners, taking in the sunshine and the feeling of flight. Afterwards, join the shoppers and the party-goers and bar hop through Barranco and its lively bars.
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A unique collection of floating islands on Lake Titicaca. The islands have been created by the totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake and the Uros people live on them. The reeds build homes, boats and the crafts and tools of the Uros people. Visiting just for the day will allow you a view of life on these islands but if you wish to explore further then accommodation is provided in some of the reed huts for an authentic experience.
Peru is world renowned for its amazing surf and the beauty of the coastline is a plus for the activity junkies. Peru has about 1600 miles of coastline and receives swell from all directions. The cast is a narrow strip of desert wedged between the pacific ocean and the inland highlands. The area around Lima has a large selection of surfing spots but for the most passionate surfers you should head up to the north coast. It appears alot more isolated but offers some of the best surf in the world. Located in the northern coastal desert of peru, near Trujillo, Playa Chicama is world-renowned. It’s recognised as the longest, left-breaking wave in the world and offers sun all year round. Both veteran surfers and beginners are suited to Playa Chicama so venture up north and experience the famous waves.
Colca Canyon is vast and immensely deep, as twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, it reaches a depth of 3,400 metres. It’s another of Peru’s stunning views and examples of natures wonders and makes for a fabulous trekking area. The vast area has a uniquely shifting landscape from the barren steppe of Sibayo, to the huge canyons and then the terraced farmlands of Yanque and Chivay. Join a trekking tour, and remember your camera because like Machu Picchu this serene landscape will blow you away.
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Peru’s Amazon basin feel impenetrable and a constant mystery to those visiting. Its deep, rich in wildlife and plants and still home to many remote tribes. The tropical rainforest is a place like no other where you can get lost for days and feel like a born explorer. It is the most biodiverse region of the Earth and can be explored on ground or by boat through the waterways. The jungle has plenty of lodges to stay in and tour guides to join in hope of catching a glimpes of some of its exotic wildlife. The Manu Biosphere Reserve and National park is a good way in and runs all the way from cloud forest to the slopes of the Andes and down into the forest. Another option if the Parque Nacional Manu, an expansive rainforest park that is larger than many countries. Here you can see giant otters, jaguars, colour frogs and glimpse into the life of the indigenous people living there.
The Sacred Valley and the towns of Urubamba and Pisa are just an hour’s drive from Cusco and offer a beautiful and peaceful break. There are many Inca ruins here to explore and also interesting markets to root through and enchanting local culture to soak up. The Sunday Market in Pisac is magical and the Pisac Ruins are really historically interesting. Trekking opportunities weave through the archaeological sites of the so take your time and chill out wandering through the history of the lush landscape.
Peru is the gigantic country with the little name, and we’ve touched upon some of its best bits but there is so much more to it that can only be experience by taking your time to reach every corner of its landscape. Have you visited Peru before? Share your best bits in the comments below.
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