Machu Picchu is the most visited site in the whole of Peru and has the notable title of being one of the new 7 wonders of the world, and rightly so. Built originally as an estate for the Pachacutec emperor, Machu Picchu was abandoned after the Spanish conquest. Rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, the site gained instant notoriety and now has over 2,000 visitors each day. Built in approximately 1450, it has since undergone major reconstruction. No visit to Peru is complete without a visit to this majestic site.
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru, located on the central coast and overflowing with history and culture. A city tour will allow you to take the sites: Plaza de Armas and the historic center – a UNESCO World Heritage, Larco Museo, Museo de la Nacion, Museo del Banco, Church of San Francisco and its catacombs, Huaca Pucllana, and the modern suburb of Miraflores. Shopping and gastronomic pleasures await you in this cosmopolitan metropolis.
Nazca, part of the Ica Region, is particularly well known as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Nazca Lines - a series of over 800 geoglyphs located in the desert by the Andean foothills. This is a fascinating site and you can choose to see them from a viewing tower or with an overflight which also includes the nearby equally interesting Palpa geoglyphs.. Other interesting places to visit include the Maria Reiche Museum, Cantalloc Aqueduct, Chauchilla cemetery and Museo Antonini. Of particular interest is Cahuachi, a major ceremonial center of the Paracas and Nazca cultures containing over 40 mounds and adobe structures.
Known as the "white city" because of the sillar (white colored volcanic ash stone) used to construct the colonial buildings, Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru. A UNESCO World Heritage site , it sits proudly at 2,335 meters above sea level, surrounded by three volcanoes: El Misti, Chachani and Picchu Picchu. Arequipa enjoys sunny weather all year round and is known for its fine cuisine and quality alpaca yarn. Places of note to visit include the Basilica Cathedral , the Santa Catalina Monastery,the Casa de Moral and the Goyeneche Palace. For those feeling more energetic, rafting or a mountain bike tour can be arranged.
The Colca Canyon is located 180km north of Arequipa and is the second deepest canyon in the world, (the first being Cotahuasi Canyon), at 3,191 meters. It is a popular tourist destination receiving over 120,000 visitors annually. Set above the small town of Chivay, the Colca Canyon is an amazing destination where it is possible to admire the Andean condors which inhabit this region. To enjoy the landscape it is also possible to camp or hike.
Cuzco (or Cusco) in southeastern Peru sits at a high elevation of 3,300 meters and due to its historic value was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Cuzco is the oldest existing inhabited city in the Americas and sees more than 2,000,000 visitors per year. Cuzco has more than enough sites to please the fussiest of visitors including the archeological remains of Koricancha, Kenko, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara, Tipon and Sacsayhuaman. Take a stroll by Plaza de Armas, through the streets of San Blas or visit San Pedro market. And as Cuzco is growing at a rapid rate, so is the number of quality eating establishments located around the city center.
The Sacred Valley (El Valle Sagrado) is just north of Cuzco and provides more than enough arecheological remains and natural beauty to keep a visitor amused for a week or two. Pisaq (meaning partridge in Quechua), 32kms from Cuzco, is an interesting town with an artistic vibe. Of notable interest is the busy market and the Incan ruins sitting on a hilltop overlooking the town. Chinchero is a popular spot with great natural views and a traditional Andean market. Ollantaytambo is where tourists flock to board the train to Machu Picchu however, it is a lovely place to visit. Built on top of Incan remains, this impressive town has a number of ruins and step terraces, all of which can be accessed on foot. Moray features circular terraces and when combined with the nearby salt mines in Maras makes an interesting day trip.
The name Paracas means "Raining Sand" in Quechua and it is a popular tourist destination for those seeking an ecological destination, the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve. Popular with animal lovers and for bird watching, visitors have the opportunity to spot Humboldt Penguins, sea lions as well as a large number of migratory birds. Well known for the El Candelabro geoglyph located on the Peninsula, this beautiful area is and will be a popular tourist destination.
Chincha Colonial has a sad past because of the slave trade but it undoubtedly is an interesting place. You can visit the Hacienda where these events took place or watch the Afro-Peruvian traditional dance and enjoy the local cuisine. Head to El Carmen to experienc the music and dancing and look out for the cajon and cajita, percussion instruments created by the African immigrants. If there is one thing for sure, there is generally a peña (party) happening in some part of town.
Huaraz, located in the central part of northern Peru is a popular tourist destination for those seeking outdoor activities such as trekking, wildlife spotting and camping. Surrounded by the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra, the main attractions in the area include Parque Nacional Huascaran, Lagunas Llangnuco, Cordillera Huayhuash and the archeological site of Chavin de Huantar, part of one of the oldest civilizations to be found in South America.
Located on the coast of northwestern Peru, and known as the city of the eternal springs, Trujillo is the third largest city in Peru, boasting a rich cultural history and traditions. Situated on the Moche River, Trujillo was home to the Moche and Chimu cultures prior to the Inca expansion. Some of the city's highlights include the Chan Chan Citadel, the largest mud city built in the Americas; the El Brujo and Cao Museum, a complex previously used for ceremonial rituals and sacrifices; and Huaca del Sol y de la Luna (the Temple of the sun and the moon).
Amazon Forest (Manu, Tambopata, Iquitos)
The Amazon Forest covers most of the Amazon basin in South America and although the majority of the forest is in Brazil, parts of it can be accessed in Peru. Manu National Park boasts more than 2,000,000 hectares of flora and fauna unique to the area as well as a variety of habitats including the cloud forest and rain forest. The Tambopata National Reserve, accessed via Puerto Maldonado, tends to be the most accessible providing many opportunities to explore the forest biodiversity . In the region of Iquitos, considered the capital of the Amazon Jungle, there is the Pacaya Samiria Natural Reserve, the largest in Peru.
Located in Southern Peru on the Ica River, Ica was originally home to the Nazca and Paracas cultures. Ica sits in the middle of the desert and draws many tourists because of its proximity to the nearby Huacachina Oasis and the production of Pisco brandy. You can opt to sample many Pisco varieties in one of the local bodegas, or visit the Museo Regional de Ica to see the elongated skulls of the mummies, remnants of the Paracas culture, or try your hand at sandboarding or riding the sand waves in a dune buggy.
Cotahuasi Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world, followed by Colca Canyon (approximately 3,354m deep) and twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. Due to its remote location, it is not as frequently visited as the Colca Canyon or the Grand Canyon. However for those who seek adventure or like travelling off the beaten track, this canyon provides many natural wonders and trekking paths for a memorable experience.
Puno-Lake Titicaca (Uros, Taquile, Amantani, Anapia, Yuspique, Sillustani)
Puno is the starting point to visit Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. The water is cold but of a deep blue and the lake has 41 islands, including some made of totora reeds. Visitors can stay on Amantani Island hosted bylocal inhabitants who make their livelihood from fishing, cattle, sheep and alpacas. Taquile Island is a popular tourist spot to admire the UNESCO protected textile art and to visit the local ruins. Anapia, Yuspique and Sillustani Islands are ideal for those who wish to have a more unique and authentic travel experience.
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