Things to see in Peru
Making a list of the tourist attractions in Peru is not an easy task seeing at the extremes this large country offers. Peru tourist attractions come in all shapes and sizes, and when you start looking into a Peru vacation, you will find that you may have to make sacrifices in what to see and do in one trip. Peru is a country that is blessed with a varying landscape of astounding beauty. You can spend a few days in a desert oasis; follow it up with a hike in the Andes, and then head down into the Amazon Basin for a jungle adventure. With so many attractions in Peru, on first sight it does not look like a country where you will spend a lot of time “relaxing”. Nevertheless this is far from true, having beautiful beaches and lodges in the north, under a year round sun, enjoying some of the nicest hotels and Spa’s in South America, and of course the culinary wonders this country has to offer; from food stands on the street to restaurant located in ancient ruins, it is all possible in Peru!!!
Following we will try to give you an overview of the main types of Peru tourist attractions you may expect when coming to Peru;
Discovering ancient cultures
Most people who come to Peru are here first and foremost to visit the most famous peru tourist attraction; the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Visiting Machu Picchu is mainly done from the other famous city; the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco. In Cusco, you can see Inca walls, which now serve as the bases of the more modern colonial Spanish structures built on top of them, creating a very particular building style. From here one also can visit the other smaller sites of Ollantaytambo, Pisac and the lesser but equally impressive site of Choquequirao. The Sacred Valley and the Cusco region aren’t the only place to see great the remnants of ancient civilizations. This list would not be complete leaving out the mysterious Nazca Lines in southern Peru. These lines, subject to multiple explanations and discussions are a wonder to see, you can see them partially from a watch tower close to the Panamericana, but are best viewed from the air in a short flight from Nazca or Ica. In northern Peru there are a number of sites, all potential mayor tourist attractions in Peru, but on average little know. First of all there is the huge site of Chan Chan close to Trujillo. This site, the biggest adobe city in the world, is one of the main sites of the Moche Culture, a pre Colombian civilization in northern Peru. The Sun and Moon temple, the biggest pyramids in Peru are also from this culture. Furthermore you have in Cajamarca part of the original chamber where the Spanish held Inca Atuahalpa prisoner for large sums of gold and silver. You can also visit the probable battle field at the Baños del Inca, where the Inca’s suffered their first and maybe most important defeat against the Spanish. Finally one very little but definitely worthwhile trip would be to the Ruins of Kuelap, another pre Colombian civilization located in the central northern highlands. This is a relatively new discovered culture and excavations are still going on discovering more and more about this little known culture.
You may have seen and heard the pan flutes in your home country as this is the “export” music and tunes well known all over the world. These tunes come together with the players in colorful ponchos and were better to find one than on the Peruvian markets. Peru is known for its artisanal products, for its wool and its ceramics. All these products can be found easily, cheap and of great quality in Peru. You would not be the first visitor not being able to resist to the colorful jumpers and hats being offered here. For shopping the bigger cities are maybe your best choice; Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, they all have large artisanal markets close to the city centre were you can find almost anything you would imagine from a Peru artisanal market. Nevertheless, on the main Peru attractions when it comes to shopping is without doubt the market of Pisac. This market covering several blocks of this small town is famous for all the artisanal products you can find here in a typical Andean atmosphere.
Without doubt, one of the main Peru tourist attractions would be the awesome hiking and trekking this country offer. Being home to the largest mountain range in the world, the Andes, Peru is a Mecca for all who look for high altitude adrenaline and flabbergasting mountain views. The number of hikes is endlessly and the levels of difficulty vary a lot. You can hike ancient Inca Trails, climb “top of the world” mountains, and hike down to the Amazon basin or even do it all in one. The most famous hike is without doubt the Inca Trail taking you via the ancient way to Machu Picchu. This popular hike does sells out quickly, but no worries the options are plenty; Salkantay or Lares taking you through the true Peruvian highlands also ending in Machu Picchu, or what about Choquequirao or Espiritu Pampa, two lesser know important Inca sites, the later being the last refuge of the Inca’s after the fall of Cusco. In the north of Peru we find the famous Cordillera Blanca and the Huascaran, the highest mountain of Peru. The nice thing about the treks in northern Peru is the fact that the starting points are relatively accessible from Lima. No matter what type of hiking you may be looking for, we are positive that Peru can offer it. Finally in southern Peru we find another extreme, the two deepest canyons in the world, both twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA, and located at 3 hours from Arequipa, the Cotohuasi Canyon; the deepest in the world and only challenged in his beauty by the nearby Colca Canyon, only 150 meters less profound and home to the famous condors. Together with the Misti Volcano, without doubt the best hiking possibilities in Southern Peru.
Agreed, Peru may not be the first destination you may think of when thinking about surfing, but nothing is lesser true. Surf culture always has been big in Peru and the last couple of years this is starting to pay off. With the organization of the Women’s World Championship in 2008 in Mancora, the recent won world title for teams; it is safe to say that surfing is the next big thing in Peru. Having good waves all over the north coast from Lima to the border with Ecuador, especially Lima and Mancora are known for its surfing beaches. As Lima weather only allows one to enjoy the waves a couple of months a year, we would recommend going to the beaches at Mancora and combining a couple of days relaxing with surfing classes. For the advanced surfers, in Chicama you will find the longest wave in the world.
Besides the surfing on waves there is another type of surf Peru has to offer; Sand boarding. This is done on a surf board greased up with wax and then sliding you down some of the highest sand dunes in the world. A buggy will take you into the desert and drive you up these gigantic dunes for a slide full of adrenaline down to the foot of the dune. The best sand boarding you can find in the Huacachina Oasis or in Nazca.
Marvel at the natural beauty of the Amazon Rainforest
Off course this list wasn’t complete without including the largest part of Peru, the Amazon Rainforest. This Peru tourist attraction is full of amazing discoveries and adventures. National parks such as Manu and Tambopata hold some of the most pristine and untouched Rainforest on the continent. Head down on some of the many waterways through this dense forest in a canoe, walk over a canopy walkway through the forest treetops, fishing for piranhas, evening walks, these are all experiences part of a jungle stay. Of course there are other activities such as visiting indigenous villages and doing overnight camping trips. For the more luxury seekers, from Iquitos you can embark one of the luxury cruise boats doing multiple day cruises on the Amazon River.
As you can read from the above, Peru will not easily bore you and make you fall from one extreme into another. Desert Oasis, snowcapped mountains, lost civilizations and cities, and the sheer magnitude and wilderness of one of the greatest and deepest jungles in the world…all into one country….how about a unique travel destination…