the majestic Machu Picchu, the jungle, the mountains and of course an excellent vacation in Peru.
Peru is a colorful and friendly destination. Part of its charm is its rich heritage, with a culture based on the fusion of the ancient indigenous Inca empire and the Spanish colonizers who arrived in 1529.
While much is known about Peru since the conquest, life beforehand is shrouded in mystery, how its language is unwritten and undocumented.
What we know about Inca culture and tradition is based on the findings of folklore and archaeologist. A trip to Peru, therefore, is not complete without visiting several of the Inca sites, to build an image of history.
However a good vacation in Peru, it is not just about Inca archaeological remains. The country is crossed by the vast Andes mountain range, which extends throughout South America. With some of the highest peaks rising to more than 5,000 m, they offer deep gorges, volcano craters and powerful mountain views that make it the perfect destination for hikers and rafting enthusiasts.
Why choose Peru as a tourist destination for your next vacation?
A vacation in Peru can be one of the most spectacular, as you can do countless adventure sports in the jungle, mountains and coast.
Cusco was the ancient capital of the Inca empire and is the focal point of many trips to Peru.
The city is an intriguing blend of Spanish colonialism and Quechua heritage, reflected in the architecture and art seen in the cathedral and museums.
The atmosphere in Cusco is very relaxed, but at the same time, there is always something to do. Take a walk and you will meet a street musician or a market stall. If you are very lucky, you can see one of the many festivals for which the city is famous.
The Plaza de Armas is in the heart of Cusco and is the best starting point for a walking tour of the city.
The cathedral and the Inca museum are particularly worth a visit, as is the fortress of Sacsayhuaman if you can face the walk.
Many people head to Cusco before departing on one of the many multi-day hikes possible in the area such as the Inca Trail, Salkantay, Lares Trek and the famous Inca Jungle.
A note of caution: flying here from sea level can cause mild altitude sickness, so make sure you have enough space on your itinerary to acclimatize.
The Sacred Valley.
From Cusco, the unmissable place to visit in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which many people do as a day trip.
The landscape serves as a spectacular backdrop for the beautifully preserved Inca terraces in Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
The archaeological centers give a very useful insight into Inca history and its ancient ways of life. Cultural experiences are also available, with visits to local weavers’ workshops that stand out especially. Tours can be done privately or in groups.
The advantage of having your own individual guide (private tours) is that you can go at your own pace and delve into many details. Bus tours, however, are cheaper.
For the more active, white water rafting trips on the Urubamba River in class 2 – 3 rapids are made. It is an exciting excursion, so it is especially good for clearing any jet lag. When booking, make sure the operator meets safety standards.
The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu is undoubtedly an essential point during your vacation in Peru, was discovered only 100 years ago, and retains its magical and mystical air.
Terraces and buildings are still an enigma for archaeologists and historians, who are still undecided about their original purpose. The remote environment, in the heart of the Andes and surrounded by cloud forest, makes it an inescapable experience.
Hikers can reach the site on foot via the Inca Trail, most commonly on a 4 day/3 night hike, although a shorter 2-day hike is also available.
The trail is very popular and is operated with permission, so it is advisable to book well in advance. If you do not wish to walk, you can visit Machu Picchu by taking a train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes and then taking a bus to the Inca complex.
The southeast of Cusco is the highest lake in South America; Lake Titicaca. At 3,800 m, the vast lake extends 120 by 80 miles and forms the border with Bolivia.
Said to be the birthplace of the Inca Empire, the lake is home to the Uros, who live on man-made floating islands made from reeds in the lake.
The closest city to the lake is Puno, which is the stopping place for people wishing to spend the day or a night trip in Titicaca. Puno itself is not a particularly exciting place to visit; most people come to the lake, which you can visit on a day trip or a night on one of the islands in a family home.
You can get to Puno by bus from Cusco or Arequipa, or flying to Juliaca airport. We strongly recommend that you visit Lake Titicaca after acclimatizing for the first time in Cusco or Arequipa.
Known as the white city. Arequipa is famous for its large colonial buildings, built with the local white volcanic rock.
Peru’s second-largest city is vibrant and offers some fantastic local restaurants and markets.
The magnificent cathedral in the central plaza, the Plaza de Armas, is worth a visit. It has been rebuilt many times due to earthquake damage, but still retains its grandeur.
Many people also choose to go to the Museo de Santuarios Andinos (or the Museo Santury) which houses the frozen body of Juanita, an Inca princess. Her preserved body was discovered in the snowy mountains and is believed to have been there as a sacrifice to the sun god, although there is no proof of this claim. Arequipa can be reached by air or bus from Puno.
The landscape surrounding Arequipa is one of the most dramatic and wild in Peru, with extinct volcanoes, snowy mountains, and deep gorges and canyons. The most accessible of these is the dramatic Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world. More than 100 km long and 3,000 m deep, it is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
The best time to arrive is early in the morning when you have the best chance of seeing the magnificent condors that rise above the canyon. You can visit the Colca Canyon on a night trip from Arequipa. Then you can return in the same way, or head to Lake Titicaca.
To the east of the Andes, 60% of Peru is covered with lush jungle or tropical rainforest, another attraction that you can add during your vacation in Peru.
Much of this remains beyond the reach of tourists, but the Manu and Tambopata reserves are open to visitors, and the latter is more accessible. Overflowing with wildlife and birds, the jungle is a paradise for nature lovers.
You can expect to see alligators sunbathing on the banks of the muddy river, brightly colored macaws screaming in clay licks and monkeys jumping in the canopy.
The walks through the dense forest are unbelievable, without the fauna and flora not surprising. To make the most of your jungle experience, we recommend that you stay for 3 to 4 days, which allows you enough time to enter the jungle, far from any civilization.
You can expect basic jungle shelters in some of the best environments Mother Nature has to offer. The best starting point for your jungle adventure is Puerto Maldonado, from where you take a boat upstream.
You can fly to Puerto Maldonado from Cusco or Lima.
Lima, the capital of Peru, which should not be overlooked, is also worth a visit.
While you may not have the spectacular views of Arequipa and Cusco, it is a vibrant city and a good place to recover from your jetlag.
Many people choose to stay in the popular district of Miraflores, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is home to some modern restaurants and bars, giving you a good feel of contemporary Lima.
In the old town, you can taste the colonial era by visiting the 17th-century San Francisco Convent and the Plaza Mayor, Plaza San Martín and the Government Palace.
Most flights from the UK arrive here early in the morning, so we recommend that you stop in Lima for the day, explore and then travel to your destination the next day.
This gives you the opportunity to see the highlights of the city and also to overcome the worst of your jet lag so you don’t have to deal with jet lag and acclimatization to the altitude at the same time.
Be sure to consult a health professional when planning your vacation in Peru, as some destinations require vaccinations/antimalarials.