When people plan their backpacking trip through South America, they usually chart out Brazil’s exotic beaches or Bolivia’s dizzying heights. When they get to Peru, they’ll go “Wait, that place with the llamas?” But Peru is much more than that. Here are 9 reasons Peru is the South American travel destination you never knew you had to visit.
Lima, once a dingy and even dangerous city, is on the rise along with the Peruvian economy. Beyond its culinary delights, featuring local delicacies like ceviche, Lima boasts a glorious old town, many museums and the impressive 1,800-year-old Huaca Pucllana ruins.
Majestic Machu Picchu
The ancient city of Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist attraction in South America. It can be reached via hiking trails or a railway line. This highlight of Inca civilization is about as an exciting tourist destination as you can imagine.
Other Peruvian ruins include Kuelap – the “Machu Picchu of the north”, on a clifftop surrounded by cloud forest; Chavín de Huantar – which pre-dates the Incas and features narrow tunnels and impressive engravings; and the adobe city of Chan Chan.x
The Breath Taking Amazon
Peru has a staggering three Amazon regions: the riverine national parks and reserves around Iquitos; the Chachapoyas-Gocta-Kuelap circuit, with its mummy museums, ruins and lofty waterfall; and the Tambopata reserve, where boat trips are increasingly popular.
The beautiful Cuzco is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the America’s, retaining many tangible links with its pre-Columbian past, such as the ruins of Coricancha, an Inca temple demolished by the Spanish in 1533.
Andean folklore declares that Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun, which is why this huge body of water is considered so sacred. The largest lake in South America it is the highest navigable waterway in the world and is home to the Uru people, who live on floating islands made of reeds.
The Stunning Beaches
The scorching beaches of Peru’s northwest are known for their tropical climate and golden shores, the district of Piura is probably the top spot for beach enthusiasts, who flock to resorts like Mancora, where rolling surf, crystalline waters and powdery sands keep visitors for longer than they planned.
The Mesmerizing Nazca Lines
These curious geoglyphs were etched into the desert at some point between 500 BC and AD 500, and depict living things such as a birds, animals and a strange-looking man, known as ‘the astronaut’. The sheer size of them and the fact that they can only properly be viewed from the air, combine to make a visit to Nazca both awe-inspiring and mystifying.
Exciting Culinary Scene
Peru is best known for ceviche, but its repertoire is far more extensive. Lima might be the cutting edge of Peruvian cuisine, but beyond the capital the country is awash with fabulous fusions and experiments. Traditional recipes endure too, particularly on the Pacific coastal strip, in the Amazon and up in the Andes.