Peru is most famous for the sacred archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Each year, scores of intrepid hikers brave the arduous slopes of the Inca Trail to explore the fascinating ruins, while even more journey by train. But the country’s attractions extend far beyond the mystical allure of this legendary location, and include palm-fringed beaches, quaint Andean villages and archaeological treasures that predate Machu Picchu by hundreds of years – all imbued with the nation’s rich mélange of indigenous and colonial cultures. Equally enticing are the exotic reaches of Peru’s Amazon rainforest; Lima’s superb eateries, exquisite architecture and effervescent nightlife; the glittering, mountain-ringed waters of Lake Titicaca; and the vibrant city of Cusco, referred to by the Incas as ‘the center of the world’.
Peru covers a total area of 1.2-million square kilometers and is the third largest country in South America. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Ecuador and Brazil in the north, Chile in the south and Bolivia to the south and east. While the country lies almost entirely in the tropics, it experiences a wide variety of climatic conditions. However, as a general rule, the country can be divided into three distinct geographical regions: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.
The country´s total population is about 30 million people, roughly evenly split between the descendants of the Spanish and those of the native populations. The Spanish population is concentrated in the narrow coastal desert areas and urban centers of Lima, Arequipa, and Trujillo, while most of the native descendants live in the highlands and jungle areas. Like many other nations, Peru has a history filled with conquest and domination by succeeding invaders. The first inhabitants of Peru were nomadic hunter/gatherers who traveled the country in loose-knit bands. Without a doubt, the most famous empire of the region was the Incas, who left a significant legacy in Peru. Interestingly enough, the empire only survived for about a century before it was dissolved in the mid-16th century.
Peru is a stunningly beautiful and diverse destination ... One that needs to be at or near the top of your bucket list of places to explore!
Lima | 3D/2N
The bustling city of Lima rises above a long stretch of coastline known as “La Costa Verde” (the green coast), offering impressive views of the rolling waves and an array of delicious seafood restaurants all positioned within earshot of the ocean. As South America's culinary capital, Lima had been the epicenter of a food revolution that has transformed this city into a hub of creative cuisine. But Lima is much more than a city on a plate. It is sophisticated, with its roots embedded in a complicated and rebellious history that has given birth to a multitude of cultural sites, beautiful preserved architecture and civilization that dates back millennia. Stately museums display sublime pottery, galleries debut edgy art, solemn religious processions recall the 18th century and crowded bars dispense tropical beats.
Cusco, The Sacred Valley, & Machu Picchu | 5D/4N
Cusco | Few people miss this iconic premier city whilst visiting Peru, as apart from being the gateway to Machu Picchu (one of the new Seven Wonders of the World), it is the undisputed archaeological capital city of South America.
The Sacred Valley | Between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the ´Sacred Valley of the Incas´ encompassing what was the fertile homeland of the Inca Empire. Today, the transcendent region is a quiet expanse of country that is steeped in Andean history and culture. Home to various attractive colonial towns and tucked away hillside-weaving villages, the area is becoming increasingly popular. A stretch of picturesque villages and ancient ruins sprawl across broad fields and mountain slopes, dripping with Andean history, culture, and beauty. The cute markets and ancient Inca citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo offer a cultural and historical insight into the past successes and pitfalls of the valley.
Machu Picchu | A train and bus ride from Cusco and the Sacred Valley is Machu Picchu, the legendary lost city that was abandoned by the Inca Empire, reclaimed by the jungle and lost to humanity until its rediscovery in 1911. Built by the Incas on the summit of "Machu Picchu", in the middle of a dense, resourceful and tropical forest overlooking the canyon of the Urubamba, Machu Picchu is a site of extraordinary beauty and enormous archeological significance. The complex reflects the Inca Empire in its prime, with giant walls, terraces and ramps that have been engineered with extreme precision, and cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments.
Lake Titicaca & Puno | 4D/3N
According to Andean beliefs, Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun. Upon visiting the highest navigable lake in the world (3811m), and witnessing the majestic sunsets and sunrises, the spirituality and peacefulness of the location are unlike any other place in the world. The deep blue skies and razor cold nights create an extremely pure and fresh environment. Today the region is a mix of old cathedrals, desolate Altiplano and fields backed by rolling hills where one can gain insight into a unique culture and lifestyle.
The Peruvian Amazon | 4D/3N
The Peruvian Amazon is one of the few remaining pristine environments on earth. Sprawling across 60% of the country’s land mass and composed of roughly 80% primary forest, Peru is the destination where the source of the mighty Amazon River begins to carve its path through the rainforest to explode into the largest river in the world. The jungle environment that sprawls for thousands of kilometers is rich and wild, including a multitude of vividly colored macaws, parrots, vociferous red howler monkeys, capybaras and enormous Goliath bird-eater spiders!
Northern Amazon & Iquitos | Welcome to the world’s largest city that cannot be reached by road or car. Surrounded by water on one side and thick amazon rainforest on the other, the only access to Iquitos is by river and air. The city of Iquitos is famous for the rubber boom in the 20th century, which has left behind a melting pot of ethnicities, distinct culture, surrounded by unadulterated rainforest on all sides making it a unique place to embark on a jungle cruise adventure.
Southern Amazon & Puerto Maldonado (Tambopata Nature Reserve) | Located in the department of Madre de Dios, the Tambopata Nature Reserve is a humid subtropical rainforest that extends across 1.5 million hectares of wilderness. A thriving biodiversity provides home for macaws, parrots, kingfishers, caimans, turtles, otters and gazelles, among other creatures. Nearly one-third the size of Costa Rica, Tambopata has more species of birds (595) and butterflies (1,200+) than any place on earth of similar size. The diverse range of thriving wildlife, species and environmental diversity, give this jungle destination a unique flavor and twist.
Northern Beaches | 4D/3N
Manora is the beach destination in northern Peru, where kilometers of white sandy beaches stretch along the coastline. Popular for its excellent surfing conditions and long break waves, the pace of life in Mancora is relaxed and stress free offering a kaleidoscope of hedonistic charms. Whether you opt to soak up the sun, take a sunset horseback ride down the beach, indulge in fresh seafood, or ride some of the first-class waves, Mancora is the perfect destination for families or couples who are looking to get away and unwind.
Arequipa & Colca Canyon | 3D/2N
Arequipa | Arequipa lies in the high Altiplano of the Andes (2325m) and is the colonial-era capital of Peru, protected by three impressive volcanoes creating a precarious but visually stunning setting. Known as the “White City” because it is practically all built out of a white volcanic rock known as sillar, the city’s architecture is comprised by a formidable ensemble of baroque buildings that to date have withstood most of what mother earth has thrown at it. In 2000 the city’s center proudly earned a well-deserved UNESCO World Heritage listing, which undoubtedly pays tribute to the gigantic cathedral situated in Peru’s most beautiful Plaza de Armas.
Colca Canyon | Near Arequipa lies the Colca Canyon, a scar twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, offering breathtaking trekking routes and home to iconic Andean condors. It is not just the sheer scale and depth of the canyon that makes it so impressive; it’s the changing and emotive landscapes. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots, and towns founded in Spanish colonial times, still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures. The local people still maintain their ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces until today.
Paracas & Nazca | 3D/2N
Paracas | The Paracas National Reserve is a subtropical coastal desert, best known for its natural habitats and huge biodiversity. A lunar-like landscape meets the ocean where you will find a modest beach town, stark cliffs that drop into the ocean and rugged promontories that jut out to sea, offering a beachfront residence to the flocks of marine birds in the area. The Ballestas Islands are one of the main attractions and are located a short boat ride away off the coast famed for their abundant wildlife, and home to thousands of birds and mammals including penguins, sea lions, Inca terns, and pelicans.
Nazca | Near Paracas, Nazca boasts the world famous attraction of the Nazca lines, which can be seen from the incredible vantage point of a plane as it soars over the high desert of southern Peru. Some of the swirls and zigzags start to form distinct shapes such as a hummingbird, spider and monkey that can only be appreciated from a high vantage point. The dull pale forms of the rocks and sand organize and change, with distinct white lines that gradually evolve from tan and rust-red. Astonishingly, the Nazca desert is so dry that it receives less than an inch of rain every year.
Inkaterra | Aguas Calientes
Picture this: you travel by train into the green folds of the Peruvian Andes and arrive at what seems like a charming Andean village hidden in the mists of the cloud forest. To top it off, the greatest archaeological site in South America is perched among the peaks just above, and expert guides are eager to explore it with you.Welcome to Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, the brainchild of an ecotourism company that has been blazing the trail for sustainable tourism for nearly 40 years. With 81 beautifully appointed casitas discreetly tucked among the trees, a glass-walled restaurant, and a wide range of excursions led by exceptional guides, the lodge is much more than a base for visiting the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary—it is a destination in itself.
Titilaka | Puno
The mere mention of Lake Titicaca is enough to conjure up a dramatic, mysterious world. At an altitude of more than 3,800 meters in the Andes, on the border between Peru and Bolivia, this cradle of Inca civilization is still home to one of the oldest communities in South America. Titilaka Lodge is tucked away in this unique landscape, totally off the beaten track on its own private peninsula, in a refurbished building. The rooms, each with a splendid lake view, are decorated in a contemporary style with touches of local heritage, in symbiosis with the luxuriant natural setting. Just outside the village of the same name, Titilaka offers a taste of the lake dwellers’ traditions and way of life, making this the ideal stop on any Peruvian journey.
Aria Amazon Cruise | Iquitos
In 2015, the Aria Amazon, which first set sail in 2011, was completely refreshed with new upgrades from bed linens to state of the art lighting. The 45 meter (147 foot) long Aria was designed by the innovative Peruvian architect Jordi Puig. Extremely generous dining and lounging areas include an outdoor river facing Jacuzzi. Floor to ceiling windows face the Amazon River in the ship’s 16 Design Suites, each measuring 23 square meters (250 square feet). Four suites can interconnect for families. This striking black hulled ship accommodates a maximum of 32 guests plus 26 crew including a paramedic and four English-speaking naturalist guides.