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BIENVENIDOS A PERU!

From towering Andean peaks to sunny beaches, sweeping deserts and verdant Amazonian jungles, Peru has a natural setting to please any traveler, whether you are an avid trekkers or a sand-seeking beach bums.

You will be mesmerized by ancient sites like Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines. Discover the depths of the Colca Canyon or the heights of Lake Titicaca and the natural diversity of the Manu National Park. Sink your teeth into the culinary delights that have made Peruvian tables famous throughout the globe. Rest your head at some of the world’s most exclusive and luxurious hotels and resorts. Explore Peru’s ancient mysticism and healing traditions, or indulge in more modern and cosmopolitan retail therapy.

With so many daily flights from destinations all around the United States and Europe, it has never been easier to access Peru.

 

The country sits on the western coast of South America, bordered by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and the Pacific Ocean. The main port of entry into Peru is the capital of Lima, where you will fly into the Jorge Chavez International Airport.

 

It is not necessary for tourists from North America to obtain a visa to travel to Peru. Only a valid passport is required. You will also receive a departure ticket wchi you must keep until you leave Peru. Before leaving the country visit the emigration office for an exit stamp.

 

Depending on where you want to travel in Peru, getting around is quite easy. A variety of domestic airlines, as well as a rail system make it possible to experience all the different corners and climates that this diverse country has to offer.

 

 

URBAN CITIES

What makes the cities of Peru so special is the contrast between the ancient, historic and modern worlds, all rolled together, someties along the same streets. Peru’s ancient traditions have sustained and flourished in the modern era. Walking the streets of Peru’s cities it is possible to see Peru’s ancient peoples living today, giving a unique glimpse into the Peru of the past.
 

The Spanish architecture throughout the country is some of the most beautiful in all of Latin America. The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin in Cusco is a classic example of Spanish architecture situated on the Plaza de Armas in the center of the city. Architectural highlights in Lima that are vestiges of Peru’s Spanish Colonial past include the Municipal Palace, the Monastery of San Francisco, the Plaza Mayor, and the Walls of Lima.

Capital City of Lima
Unlike most other urban destinations, Lima has a strong beach culture, as well, and along the coast is where much of the action happens.
 

 

Though Peru is steeped in centuries of tradition and history, Lima, the country’s capital is as vibrant and energetic as any top cosmopolitan destination of the 21st century.

Lima will without a doubt be your first stop in modern Peru. The city has a population of almost 10 million, making it the third largest city in the Americas after Sao Paulo and Mexico City. Lima is naturally chock full of historic sites and architectural marvels as well as world class museums, but its gastronomy, hotels and nightlife allow it to compete on a scale with Latin America’s other major urban destinations. And with its location overlooking the Pacific Ocean, travelers have a taste of both city and sea.

Lima has rose through the ranks of the culinary world, gaining attention from publications like Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler and the Economist, all of which have named Peru a rising star in the world of gastronomy, at which Lima is the epicenter. Whereas in the past, travelers would head straight for Cusco to begin their historic journey, now thousands of travelers visit Lima every year purely to explore its cuisine.

 

 

Millenary City of Cusco

Though Cusco is the jumping off point for visiting Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and numerous other Incan sites in the area, the city itself can be a destination all its own. The city has numerous museums and galleries, showcasing everything from indigenous to modern art.

While visiting Cusco, tourists can purchase a Boleto Turistico, or a tourist ticket that will give them access to archaeological sites, museums and monuments in Cusco and around the city, well into the Sacred Vallay (towns of Chinchero and the sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Tipón, and Pikillacta).

Cusco sits at about 11,000 feet above sea level, so altitude sickness can be a concern. The best way to beat altitude sickness is transferring to the Sacred Valley immediately after arriving to Cusco Airport and acclimatizing for a couple of days there. If you are planning to hike the Inca Trail from Cusco it is best to arrive in the city a few days prior to acclimate.
 
 
"The White City"  Arequipa

One of the most important cities in southern Peru is Arequipa, a coastal city surrounded by three volcanos. The city is part of the “Southern Peru Tourist Corridor,” together with Nazca, Puno and Cusco. While there are no Inca archeological sites in Arequipa, the city still manages to showcase the unique juxtaposition of indigenous and Spanish cultures. Found more than 450 years ago, UNESCO has added the city as a Human Heritage site. 

While in town be sure to stroll the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Arequipa, fringed with buildings made of white, volcanic stone called sillar.  It is due to this color that Arequipa is often called “the White City”.  Three blocks from the square sits the San Camilo Market, which is one of the oldest in the country. Perhaps the most visited building in Arequipa is the Convento de Santa Catalina, which is often described as a city within a city. This historic building is a true step back in time.

 
Arequipa is a wonderful base for adventure travelers. From the city, tourists have easy access to high-adrenaline activities like downhill volcano biking, volcano climbing, and whitewater rafting.
 

 

The Highlands

Peru’s highlands cover about 30 percent of the countryand are where 36 percent of the population lives. This area includes the mountainous region of Peru, where the Andes mountain range dominates the landscape and contains various ecological regions and altitudes.

 

The highlands or “sierra” have two seasons:

  • Summer (April to October) with sunny days, cold nights and little rain – this is the perfect time to visit.
  • Winter (November to March), when it usually rains. During the day, temperatures can reach 75 degrees, and at night they can fall to the 30s.

The highlands are characterized by breathtaking, rugged scenery. Peppered with Andean villages, this is the prime destination for adventure travelers who want to experience the culture and authenticity of indigenous Peru.

Highlights include the Cordillera Blanca mountain range and Huascaran, Peru’s highest mountain that towers more than 22,000 feet above sea level.

Machu Picchu

Any first-time visit to Peru would be incomplete without a trip the country’s undeniable symbol, Machu Picchu. This 15th-century Inca site sits 7,970 feet above sea level, against the iconic backdrop of a moss-covered peak, Huayna Picchu, rising into the clouds. It is Peru’s most visited attraction and a bucket list item for any avid traveler.

Machu Picchu is an epic sight to behold as travelers literally step back into time to discover this ancient wonderland. Perfectly preserved stone structures lay history out in front of your eyes as you wander the rooms and farming terraces, all with the magnificent setting of the towering Andes around you. Built on a mountain ridge overlooking the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu is just 50 miles from Cusco.

 

Inca Trail

One of the most popular and rewarding ways to visit Machu Picchu is to hike the Inca Trail, a historic mountain trail that leads from Cusco into the heart of the Andes. The historic link between the city of Cusco and the “Lost City of the Incas” slips you out of this world and entirely into another, along a journey deep into the heart of the Andes, the culmination of which is a magnificent entrance through the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu Mountain.

The Inca Trail as it exists today consists of three overlapping trails; the Salkantay, Classic and One-Day. Most tourists will hike the Classic Inca Trail, a four-day trek that traverses through local settlements, Incan archaeological sites and into high altitudes with nothing but sweeping views of iconic, moss-covered peaks. A shorter option is available over two days and one night. The Salkantay Trek is the longest of the three routes, and by far the most challenging with the highest mountain pass. But whichever path you choose, it is sure to sweeten an already epic experience at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Hikers do not have to be avid adventurers to complete the trail, but it helps to be in shape. 

Journey To Machu Picchu

If you wish to see Machu Picchu in a day, there are trains that leave from Cusco, Urubamba or Ollantaytambo, either as a day trip or with an overnight in nearby Machu Picchu Pueblo.

IMPORTANT: Passports are required for entry into Machu Picchu.

The Amazon

While the spotlight of Peru shines brightly on Machu Picchu and Cusco, travelers would be remiss to gloss over the Peruvian Amazon, which covers more than half of the entire country. In fact, Peru has the second largest portion of the Amazon after Brazil, making it one of the most important and identifying features of the country.

 

There are many ways to explore the Peruvian Amazon, but one of the most popular and unique ways is to cruise the Amazon River aboard a small ship

 

There is much to see during the region’s two seasons, and both offer rich diversity in terms of plants and animal life, including the Amazon River’s rare and beautiful pink dolphins.

 

  • From December through May is high-water season
  • Low-water season lasts from June through November.

Most cruises will depart from the city of Iquitos, which is a port city and the gateway to the villages of the northern Amazon. Many ships allow for kayaking the Pucate River to explore the wildlife that flourishes in the towering trees, like parrots, macaws and monkeys. Some itineraries will take travelers to the Yacapana Islands, or the Islands of the Iguanas, which are aptly named for their natural residents. 

Lake Titicaca

At Peru’s Lake Titicaca, it’s almost as though you can touch the sky. Known as the world’s highest navigable lake, this gorgeous Andean paradise rises at 12,500 feet above sea level, and sitting on its shores makes you feel as if you’re bathing in the clouds.

 

Lake Titicaca rests on the border of Peru and Bolivia and is fed by five major rivers. Visiting the lake from Peru, the best place to start is the town of Puno. Puno itself is steeped in Peruvian folklore, as Lake Titicaca was a sacred spot for the Incas.

 

Puno has many places to explore so you will want to start with the Uros Islands, a group of about 80 islands made from floating reeds. The people of Uros formed the islands from reeds that grow along the banks of the lake. The islands themselves move and can often be seen floating along the surface.

 

Taquile is another must for visitors to Lake Titicaca. This hilly island, about 28 miles from Puno, was used as a prison during the Spanish Colony. In 1970 it was handed over to the Taquile people. Archaeological sites that pre-date Inca times can be found on Taquile, and life on the island is relatively unchanged from how it has existed over the centuries.

 

 

Hiking and Trekking

With more than 100 mountains, at least a dozen national parks and the Amazon Rainforest that covers more than half of the country, Peru is a veritale playground for hikers and trekkers.

Mountain Trekking

 

Apart from the most popular Inca Trail treks to Machu Picchu that Peru is famous for, there are many other trails across other mountain ranges in Peru that are sure to please hikers of all levels.

 

Amazon Exploration

 
While you might be cruising Peru’s Amazon on a variety of small ship cruises, there is still plenty for those to explore on land. Visit the 4.4-million-acre Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Eastern Amazon. Chock full of wildlife from birds to tapirs, monkeys and otters, this is a great experience for nature lovers. Descend deep into jungle life, or climb as high as 13,000 feet to stand among the clouds.

 

National Parks

 

Peru has 14 National Parks and 15 Nature Reserves that span across more than 15 percent of the country. Many require visitor’s permits, which can be purchased for a small fee.

 

While Manu Biosphere is one of the most popular, the Tambopata National Reserve is more accessible.

 

Huascaran National Park is perfect for mountain lovers, as it is home to the 1,313 sq. miles Cordillera Blanca range in the central Andes, in the region Ancash. Trekking, mountain climbing, mountain biking and other outdoor adventures are at their best in this national park. It is also home to the highest peak in Peru, as its mountains max out at 22,205 feet. 

 

Ecoturism & Birdwatching

With more 60 percent of Peru blanketed by Amazon rainforest, Peru is highly concerned with keeping its natural environment preserved.

The Manu Biosphere Reserve, the Tambopata National Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve are three of the largest protected rain forests in the world. 
 
Still, with much of Peru covered in forest, wildlife abounds making it a phenomenal destination for bird watching. Manu National Park is one of the best places in the world for bird watching thanks to the variety of ecosystems within. There are 1,025 registered species in the national park, which represents 10 percent of all types of birds on earth. Tambopata is another paradise for spotting birds. Catch glimpses of Purus Jacamar, flame-crested Tanagers, Gilded Barbets and Plum-throated Cotingas, among many others. More than 500 species of birds live in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, as well. And don’t forget to visit Colca Canyon for a chance to spot the majestic Andean Condor. 
 
 

Soft Adventure

With rivers, jungles, cliffs and mountain roads, Peru's landscape provides a perfect backdrop for travelers seeking soft adventure. Travelers who want to experience nature with a kick of adrenaline, here is the best of what Peru offers.

 

Off-Road Driving

 

4WD enthusiasts can get their heart pumping on Peru’s lengthy miles of off-road routes, from the coast, Altiplano or the rainforest of Peru. Runs will take drivers down into canyons, across valleys, into the mountain passes in the Cordillera, through rivers and deserts.

 

Zip Lining

 

Get your need for speed met flying at record speeds across Peru’s varied terrain. Whether it’s zip lining in the Sacred Valley, Cusco, the jungle canopy or in the heart of the Andes, there are a variety of companies that will having you flying in style. 

 

Kayaking and River Rafting

 

Get out on Peru’s vast system of waterways, whether it’s on a kayak adventure or careening down Amazonian rapids. Cruise the coastlines of Lima or Lake Titicaca to see Peru from a different perspective. If you want to up the adrenaline, consider rafting. 

 

Peru has some of the best whitewater rivers in the world and along the way you’ll see the scenery change from lofty peaks to deep, verdant jungles. Cusco is the most popular starting point for one- or two-day trips on the Urubamba River. For something longer, consider trips on the Apurimac River. In Arequipa, the most experienced rafters will want to try rafting through the Cotahuasi and Colca Canyons. 

 

Watersports

Peru's sandy beaches, pristine lakes and coursing rivers leave little to be desired among water sports seekers. Whether it's sunbathing, diving, surfing or windsurfing, Peru is just waiting for your to dive right in.

Some of the best beaches in Peru are found along the northern coast. Access has been improved in the last few years making Peru one of South America’s best beach destinations. The best known in Peru is Mancora.
 
Another beach to consider is Cabo Blanco, 93 miles north of Piura, and home to picturesque pipeline waves and was the inspiration for Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Surfers will also love Lobitos, 82 miles northwest of Piura, which is known for swells, long waves and barrels.
 
For more tranquil waters, try Vichayito, four miles south of Mancora, which has calm waters and sweeping stretches of sand, making this one of the best spots for sunbathers and kite surfers. 
 
Scuba diving in Peru is absolutely rewarding, even though it’s not typically listed as one of the world’s best dive sites. A cold water destination, the waters around Peru’s coast are teeming with more than 1,000 species of fish, sea lions, kelp forests, rock walls and ship wrecks. Notable dive sites include El Nuro Beach, where you can see schools of fish, turtles, sea horses, octopuses, eels and more, as well as Mancora and off the coast of Lima.
 
Wind surfers surely know Pacasmayo, located in the North of Peru. With wave conditions similar to Baja Mexico, this beach hosted the American Windsurfing Tour in 2014. The best time of year for windsurfing in Pacasmayo is at the end of March or August through October.

 

Hardcore Adventure

Mountaineering

The Andes mountain range is the second highest in the world after the Himalayas, making it an impressive and challenging spot for mountaineers. At 22,000 feet above sea level, Huascarán, located in the cordillera Blanca mountain range, is the highest tropical mountain in the world, and sits alongside dozens of snow-capped mountains over 16,000 feet tall.

 

 

Rock Climbing

 

Rock climbers can take full advantage of the lofty Andean peaks, as well. In the highlands, the landscape offers natural cliffs, perfectly suited to rock climbing. 

 

Mountain Biking

 

Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing adventure sports in PeruWith the exception of the coastal desert, most everywhere in Peru is suitable for mountain biking and trails are organized by levels, from beginner to experts. 

 

Hang Gliding and Paragliding

 

 

Paragliding and hang gliding in Peru is spectacular because of the diversity of landscape that can be seen from the sky. There are several places in Peru that offer unrivaled paragliding and hang gliding experiences. The Callejon de Huaylas, and the cities of Huaraz and Carhuaz, have many areas from which to start. 

 

Near Lima, the series of beaches known as the Costa Verde, and the modern district of Miraflores can all be seen from the air. South of Lima, Pachacamac is another destination that is great for paragliders. 

 

 

In Cusco, paragliding over the Sacred Valley will provide you unique views of this spectacular landscape.

Sandboarding

 

Sandboarding is one of the more unique activities you can enjoy in Peru, sliding along the great sand dunes in the Peruvian deserts. The sport began in Ica and has since spread to Nazca, in Cerro Blanco, the highest dune in the world and Paracas as well as to other coastal areas, such as Cañoncillo in the northern region of La Libertad or Camana near Arequipa

 

 

For more information about Peru, contact our Certifified Peru Specialist, Elsa at elsa@skylandworldtravel.com or at 908-852-7081

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