Peru holds the key to one of the America’s most significant ancient civilizations – the Inca. The number of intact and accessible sites are extraordinarily impressive, and the present-day Inca culture is strong and vibrant. Interactive cultural experiences abound from hands-on cooking classes in Lima to weaving lessons and community visits in the Urubamba Valley. Active adventures range from soft to strenuous – canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, day hikes and multi-day trekking, white water rafting, mountain biking and more are available in Peru. Grandkids, parents, and grandparents will all be happy in Peru on a multi-generational family vacation enjoying a traditional Pachamama celebration – cooking the meal in the ground, riding the VistaDome train to Machu Picchu and paddling in oxbow lakes of the Amazon. Honeymoon travelers will fall in love with Peru and its romantic hotels and lodges, private services such as lake-side picnics, luxurious spas, and endless adventures creating memories to last a lifetime.
Lima’s cuisine was once defined by its national dish, ceviche, and the light, frothy pisco sour. While ceviche still reigns supreme the food scene has gained international notoriety. Food critic Daniel Duane declared Lima the gastronomical capital of South America and famously stated, “ Every great culinary tradition on earth owes a debt to Peru. [There would be] no chocolate in Switzerland… no potatoes in Ireland… My God, it was Portuguese traders who brought South American chiles to the Asian subcontinent; there would be no curry in India. No spices in Thailand!” While Duane may be exaggerating, Lima’s food scene cannot be ignored. Astrid y Gaston, Chez Wong, Central, and Mala Bar, all boast fresh, locally sourced dishes that routinely garner international acclaim. Between meals visit Lima’s most famous attractions, The Gold Museum (Museo Oro Del Peru), The catacombs at the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, The Larco Museum, built on the site of a pre-Columbian temple, or just stroll along El Malecon in Miraflores or through the romantic bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. Regardless of your ultimate destination in Peru, take some time to enjoy a city that is more than a stopover en-route to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley are, by far, the favorite destination of travelers in Peru. The Sacred Valley of the Incas includes various cities from Aguas Calientes to Yucay and are dotted with pre-Columbian ruins and archaeological sites of the Inca Empire. The most famous of these is Machu Picchu, the 15th-century citadel atop a dizzying mountain ridge approximately 80 miles from the city of Cusco. This famed UNESCO heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the world and constructed in the quintessential style of the Inca is made up of three primary structures, the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. The ruins are easily accessed from Aguas Calientes aka Machu Picchu Pueblo via trains originating in Ollantaytambo. Enjoy panoramic views of the Andes on the VistaDome train along with stellar accommodations in Cusco and Aguas Calientes. More adventurous clients can opt to hike the Inca Trail, spending multiple nights on the ancient footpath of the Inca en route to the ruins. While Machu Picchu is the main draw for most tourists, Peru offers an incredible variety of cultural and active adventures.
The Amazonian Jungles of Peru are rife with biodiversity and offer many eco-tourism and wildlife viewing opportunities. Covering the eastern side of Peru, the Amazon is home to almost 600 varieties of bird life, thousands of species of butterflies and fish and over 50,000 types of plants. At 302,000 square miles, the Amazon covers a massive swath of the country. Tourism is centered around two major areas, the North from Iquitos where you have direct access to the Amazon River and surrounding jungles, and the South where the focus is two large conservancies, Manu National Park and Tambopata National Park. Remote tented camps, beautiful eco-camps, and remarkable jungle lodges and treehouse hotels are your headquarters for adventure in Amazonia. Experience village life with a visit to one of the local communities along the river. Fish for piranha, spot cayman, and giant otters, swim with pink river dolphins, visit a manatee rescue center, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the elusive jaguar. The Amazon augments any itinerary.
If you’re looking to go even further off the beaten path, consider an extension to the Nazca Lines, a series of mysterious, complex, ancient geoglyphs that can only be viewed from high above. Pair your trip to the Nazca desert with an expedition to the Ballestas Islands, known as the “poor man’s Galapagos” for a chance to spot a variety of marine life, including penguins, and whales on Peru’s southern coast. Combine a visit to Arequipa and Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest and most dramatic canyons, with an excursion to the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca and explore Isla Del Sol. See the floating islands, and experience life much as it has been for hundreds of years for the indigenous Uru or Uros, who fashioned their floating cities almost entirely from the natural reeds found in the lake.
Peru offers so much more than Machu Picchu and the Inca trail. Work with one of our Adventure Architects to create a custom itinerary tailored to your interests. From the Amazon to the Andes, wildlife to community life, anything is possible in Peru. For travelers who have the time, consider combining Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Peru for the ultimate Latin American tour highlighting culture, wildlife, and archaeology.
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