A country redolent with history
Surely the “Mecca” of travel to South America, Peru is an extraordinary and fascinating country redolent with history – from pre-Incaic cultures, then the great Inca Empire, followed by great building and wealth dating from the Spanish conquest of 1535. Few places in the world offer so much living history. Peru is the third largest country in South America, with a friendly and welcoming population of 24 million and a multitude of natural wonders from abundant wildlife along the desert coast, unique vegetation found in the soaring peaks of the Andes as well as steamy, lush Amazon jungle.
Peru’s capital, Lima (population 6.5 million) was for two centuries the major centre of South America. Today, it still retains many magnificent colonial buildings and excellent museums including the Gold Museum and Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. In the south is the so-called “white city” of Arequipa, with many beautiful buildings and surrounded by spectacular mountains, including El Misti volcano. Nearby is the incredible Colca Canyon – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The city of Puno is on the shores of Lake Titicaca, with its vast azure-coloured waters shared with Bolivia. The town of Nazca is famous for the intriguing Nazca Lines – huge geometric designs of birds and animals only visible from the air and thought to date from as early as 900 BC. The Peninsula de Paracas and nearby Islas Ballestas have the superb bird and marine sanctuaries, with abundant colonies of sea lions, penguins, flamingoes, pelicans, terns and boobies.
However, no visit to Peru would be complete without a visit to Cuzco, once capital of the Inca civilisation and the so-called “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu, the most famous and spectacular archaeological site in South America. Cuzco is the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent, its cobbled streets are lined with stone walls built by the Incas and overlayed by colonial buildings including the magnificent cathedral dating from 1559. The colourful inhabitants are Quechua descendants of the Incas. Outside Cuzco are four other impressive Inca sites – Sacsayhuaman, Kenko, Puku Pukara and Tambo Machay.
For tours in the Peruvian Amazon go to our Amazon section or click one of the links below: