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 Choquequirao trek is a spectacular 60 km trek that will lead you to one of the last refuges of the Incas. Choquequirao, located at 3,100 metres is a huge archaeological complex still under excavation today and is located amongst the Salkantay sacred mountain and the Apurimac River canyon. This is a walk where you will find amazing mountain scenery as well as a diverse range of Andean flora and fauna.
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 intricately laid stone that pay testimony to the civilisation that 500 years ago controlled most of the continent and today characterise Cuzco.
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.
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.
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. Situated 120km northwest of Cuzco it is only accessible by train and foot. The archaeologist Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in 1911, although archaeologists have been visiting it for years its purpose is still unclear.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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.
Located on Peru’s northern coast, Chiclayo is a land full of contrasts close to the sea, presiding over an unstoppable desert mixed with fertile valleys that, centuries ago, saw the development of cultures such as the Mochica and Chimu, which dominated a large part of northern Peru
Trujillo, the city of eternal spring, is the birthplace of one of the most representative dances of Peru: the Marinera Norteña. One of Peru’s main cultural destinations, the city is home to numerous pre-Inca ruins, while at the same time it showcases why it was one of the most important cities of the colonial era, with its beautiful and perfectly preserved buildings and mansions