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Where to go in Peru

PER Peru Runturakay Inca Ruin On Inca Trail Sharptoyou

Where to go in Peru

Peru contains a wealth of varied attractions in different geographical areas, from the Inca civilisations of the Sacred Valley to the humid Amazonian basin, which is divided by the mighty Andean mountain range. Areas both north and south of Lima offer huge appeal, from Arequipa and nearby Colca Canyon in the south to the dramatic mountain ranges of the Cordillera Blanca and pre-Colombian citadels of the north. Machu Picchu will likely feature on your hotlist, and understandably so, as this 15th Century Incan city is undoubtedly overwhelming, but there are many other faces to Peru that are worthy of exploration. Here you will find the gems of Peru in all their wonderful detail, but feel free to ask our experts if you have any questions.

The Amazon

The mighty Amazon River begins in the highlands of the Peruvian Andes, travelling eastward 4000 miles until it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The section of the Amazonian basin in Peru which surrounds this infamous river is split into two broadly differentiated areas, the cloud forest which is set around 700 metres above sea level with a subtropical climate, and lowland jungle, which is much more humid year-round. This area of Peru offers its best wildlife opportunities and biodiversity. Easily accessible via flight from Cuzco or Lima, the main rainforest areas are Puerto Maldonado or Manu in the south and Iquitos further north. Puerto Maldonado, named after the explorer Faustino Maldonado who voyaged to the region in 1861, is the principle gateway to some of the main parks and reserves, just 55 kilometres from the border with Bolivia. Accessible via daily flights from Cuzco, travellers can stay along the Madre dos Rios River, one of the Amazon’s many tributaries, before heading south to Tambopata National Reserve


A typically bustling metropolis perched dramatically above the Pacific Ocean with views extending towards the crashing Pacific waves; Lima is not just Peru’s largest and most populous city. Lima is one of the continent’s best places to see the architecture of the Spanish colonial past, and the faded glory of the old town has enjoyed some excellent restoration. For those arriving fresh from an international flight, the area of Miraflores, an upmarket area within walking distance of the coast, is the perfect place to acclimatise and start or end your Peruvian adventure. The capital city was established as a settlement in 1535 by conquistador Francisco Pizarro and remained the seat of Spanish control for 300 years. Surrounded by desert, Lima is built on either side of the Rio Rimac, in front of the Cerro San Cristobal Mountain.

Nazca, Ica and Paracas

Places of culture, mystery and intrigue, the south is an exciting place to explore and easy to access on most Peru journeys. Peru’s southern coastal region is a tantalising mix of parched desert, protected coastal wildlife reserves and mysterious pre-Columbian giant figures etched into the sands – the existence of which remains largely unexplained and still manages to baffle some 1,500 years on. These attractions combined make it an area of Peru that, whilst sometimes overlooked, is one of the most intriguing, varied and wild, and due to its close proximity to Lima it is easy to include this land of empty desert and wilderness desert terrains into your itinerary. Two hours from Ica in the sprawling desert are the phenomenal Nazca Lines, a collection of over 300 gigantic geometric drawings that were only discovered in 1930. Depicting animals, insects and flora, the existence of the drawings is so mysterious that there are several theories that researchers like Maria Reiche have developed, including an astronomical calendar, indication of subterranean water sources and messages for the ‘eyes of gods’. Perhaps the most unusual explanation is that they represent alien landing strips! Only viewable from the air, amongst the most popular of the lines are the llama, whale, condor, snake and spider.

Cuzco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

The geographical and spiritual capital of the Incan Empire and one of South America’s most mystifyingly beautiful cities, Cuzco is one of those rare places where even a two week stay does not feel enough. This is perhaps because of the wealth of intriguing sights that surrounds the city, a gateway to explorations into the fabled Incan civilisation. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a fertile land fed by the Rio Urubamba, and contains a wealth of important citadels and Incan sites. The undeniably breathtaking and curiously inaccessible citadel of Machu Picchu is the most majestic and revered of the entire Incan heritage.

The alluring Machu Picchu is most impressively seen from the original trail of the Incas, which starts from the Sacred Valley near to Ollantaytambo and can take between three to five days. The natural scenery here is beautiful and inspiring, passing by rivers, valleys such as Pacamayo and other ruin sites like Sayacmarca. At points the views stretch over the whole Vilacabamba Range. Your arrival at Intipunku is the setting for your first view of Machu Picchu, and from there you will explore the many terraces, temples, fountains and palaces of this infamous ancient site. The Salkantay route is a wonderfully luxurious alternative to the original trail.

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