A holiday in Peru or even a honeymoon in Peru is a unique experience. Few countries in South America inspire such evocative images as Peru. It contains 28 of the world’s 31 climates, fertile valleys to Andean peaks, ancient civilisations and the ‘Land of the Incas’ to cities preserving the legacy of the conquistadors. The barren desert known as the Altiplano has indigenous Indians that still preserve their ancient tongue of Quechua (and Aymara), while shepherds with their traditionally colourful ponchos herd llamas, alpacas and vicunas across the open plains.
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The most famous destination in Peru is Machu Picchu, the ‘lost city of the Incas’. As well as being one of the most dramatic archaeological sites in the world, it also offers a fascinating insight into the daily life of one of the most respected peoples of the Americas – the Incas.
1. La Casona
2. Hotel Monasterio
3. Reserva Amazonica
4. Las Casitas Del Colca
5. Tambo del Inka
A LITTLE HISTORY OF PERU
By the time the Spanish arrived in Peru in 1528, the Incas had amassed a huge empire, known as Tahuantinsuyo, which covered over half of South America, with their capital being Cuzco, thought to be the centre of their earth. Today it boasts one of the prettiest plazas’s in the world and is surrounded by the archaeological sites of sacsayhuaman, the temples of Kenko and the old Inca bathing site of Tambomachay.
THE DIVERSITY OF A COUNTRY
About a third of the country contains pristine Amazon rainforest; the flora and fauna has some of the highest biodiversity levels found anywhere on earth and the local tribes speak over 55 different languages. Peru has some of the best travel possibilities in Latin America, offering cultural and geographical diversity.
WHEN TO GO
The official dry season is from April to October, though the Amazon rainy season is March to May. For us the best time to visit is at the beginning and the end of the seasons as this is when you will find fewer travellers. In March and April the orchids along the Inca trail are in full bloom and the rivers are ideal for white water rafting. From the middle of September to October the altiplano is at its most majestic with dried out plains contrasting with the snow-capped Andean peaks that look over them.
The Amazon River is the longest, widest river, with the greatest volume of water, in the world. Forming part of Brazil’s mighty Amazon basin, Peru’s Amazonia is a maze of waterways and lagoons. The source of the Amazon lies in the Peruvian Andes, where it has a journey of some 6,762 km to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, where fresh water can still be tasted 100 km out to sea!
The Salkantay Trek has been named among the 25 best Treks in the World and unlike the Inca Trail it is open to everybody, with no limitation on spaces or permits. journey you will trek from 3,900m/12,800ft to 2,100m/6,900ft, traversing across magnificent mountain passes, enjoying enormous and mystical snow-capped peaks, seeing nature in its purest form and exploring more than 15 different ecosystems from beginning to end.
For many this is the main reason to make the pilgrimage to Peru. Situated on a single mountain high in the Andes (2450m) this archaeological site was never discovered by the Spanish and is only accessible by train and foot.
The southern coastal route from Lima brings you to the Paracas peninsula, home to the largest sea-lion colony in the world and Ballestas islands, known as “Peru’s Galapagos”. An enjoyable wildlife experience where you can find seals, Humboldt penguins, dolphins and over 200 species of seabird. This is a diverse region with vineyards, sand dunes and archaeological ruins.
Arequipa is a UNESCO world heritage site, overlooked by the conical El Misti volcano. It does justice to its nickname, the ‘white city’, as its buildings consist of ‘sillar’, a white volcanic rock that embellishes the facades of the city’s homes and churches. The town of Arequipa is situated at around 2500 metres, making this an ideal stop over between Lima and Cuzco, allowing you to acclimatise slowly to altitude.
The trip to Machu Picchu can be done several different ways. One of the most popular and spectacular is the Inca Trail. You traverse the Andes, passing archaeological ruins, rivers, terraced valleys, snow-capped peaks, cloud forest, and a wide array of flora (including numerous varieties of orchid) and bird life. Not only is this a good walk, but it also allows you to get a better understanding of the Inca world en-route to Machu Picchu.
Located in eastern Peru on the high plateau or ‘Altiplano’, are the shores of Lake Titicaca, close to the Bolivian border. The Altiplano has an average altitude of 4,000 metres, which makes the lake, at a size of 8,300 sq km, the highest navigable lake in the world. The small town of Puno is full of Peruvian character, with narrow dusty streets and a colourful market.
The Colca Canyon is reputedly the deepest in the world – 3,182 metres (11,000 feet), which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The region is also known for its terracing, thought to be the most extensive in Peru, its picturesque towns, where the traditional clothing is still worn by the majority of women and the spectacular mountain scenery with snow-capped Andean peaks.
Cuzco in Quechua means ‘Navel of the earth’ and was the capital of the Inca Empire. The city has a curious character, its narrow cobbled streets and friendly people are obvious, but it is the huge walls of intricate stone that pay testimony to the past
Lima, once known as the city of the kings, dates from 1535, and was once the most important in the Spanish empire. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and situated in a desert, Lima receives little rain. Today it is a mixture of old world grandeur and new world hustle.
The Sacred Valley is a short drive from Cuzco and good place to help acclimatise to the altitude as it is lower than the Inca Capital. The Sacred Valley contains fertile valleys, White Water Rivers, colourful markets and hiking trails, making it a superb destination for both cultural and active interests.
Peru featured lodges:
La Casona is a colonial manor house, perhaps the first Spanish construction in Cusco and is built on an Incan settlement near Cusco’s present-day main square, which was later occupied by the conquistadores of Peru and their descendants.
Inkaterra Reserva Amazonia offers a fantastic Peruvian Amazonian experience, with dozens of excursions which can be tailored to your needs, length of visit and weather conditions. Inspired by native Amazon design