Peru

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Peru is without a doubt one of the most captivating countries in South America. Famously home of the epic lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the mindblowing Nazca Lines, this country's unique past awakens the adventurer in travellers of all sorts. Its awe-inspiring scenery varies from the wild Amazon jungles to vast coastal deserts and the icy peaks of the Andes. In it, Peru hosts a biodiversity rarely seen within the limits of a single country, with a list of spectacular wildlife far beyond the well-known llama's and circling condors. On top of all that, Peru's friendly, multi-ethnic people are a cultural treasure on their own. The enchanting mix of dozens of distinct indigenous groups and mestizo's, all with their own colourful traditions and food delicacies, is an encounter you won't easily forget. In short, this is a country of unimaginable extremes where choosing your trip destinations may prove a true challenge. Whether you decide to go off the beaten track, follow in the footsteps of thousands of visitors before you who took the Gringo Trail along some of the best highlights, or go experience the jungle through a relaxing multiple day Amazon boat trip - Peru is likely to amaze you in everything you do. (less...) (more...)

Population: 29,849,303 people
Area: 1,285,216 km2
Highest point: 6,768 m
Coastline: 2,414 km
Life expectancy: 72.98 years
GDP per capita: $10,900
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About Peru

History

Peru's oldest complex society called the Norte Chico civilization flourished in 3,000 B.C. Early developments were followed by cultures such as Cupisnique, Chavin, Paracas, Mochica, Nazca, Wari and Chimu. In the 15th century, the Inca Empire became the largest empire in the Americas.

Activities

Trekking is a great way to see the country. The most widely known route is the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Other popular routes include Cordillera Blanca, Colca Canyon, Ausangate Trek and Salcantay (also spelt Salkantay) Trek.

Trek prices can vary considerably between companies, as can their respective porters' working conditions (no pack animals are allowed, hence equipment is carried by human porters). Although there is a minimum porter wage (42 Soles/day, about US$15) and maximum load porters can carry (25 kg/55 lb), not all companies keep to their claims!

Food

Peruvian cuisine is among the most varied in the world. Not only does the country grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, but it does so throughout the year. Peruvian geography offers at least 8 different climates (desert along the coast, steep and high mountains, the Amazon basin). In Lima, due to its history as an important Spanish colonial port, the dishes are a mixture of amerindian, Spaniard, African, Asian and even Italian influences that contribute to the ever changing platos criollos (creole dishes). Rice is the staple foodstuff, and expect many dishes to include rice, in the Siera it's corn and potatoes, and in the Jungle yuca. Meat is traditionally included in most Peruvian dishes. Chicken (pollo), pork, sheep and beef are common. Alpacas are actually kept for wool, not for meat. Mostly, you will find that alpaca meat is rather tough. An Andean delicacy is guinea pig (cuy). Peruvian cuisine includes dishes which use various organs, including anticuchos, a kebab made from very marinated and spicy beef heart, and cau-cau (sounds like cow-cow), made from cow stomach served in a yellow sauce with potatoes. Anticuchos are a standard street stall food, but be careful with it.

Fish can be found along the coast (of course), but also in the jungle area since the rivers supply fresh fish (but beware of contamination in the area known as high jungle or selva alta, where most of the cocaine is made and strong chemicals get dumped into rivers; mining is a minor source of pollution in this area). In the Sierra, trout (truchas) are bred in several places. A very common fish dish is ceviche, raw fish prepared by marination in lime juice. Popular variations of the dish can include shellfish, and even sea urchin. The exact recipe and mode of preparation of ceviche will vary from region to region. Definitely worth a try, especially in summer, but cleanliness and sanitation make all the difference. Use care when buying from street vendors and remember that it is often served spicy.

Throughout Peru there is a wide variety of potato dishes (papas, not patatas as in Spain), the traditional Andean vegetable. Papa a la Huancaina is a tasty dish of potato slices and diced boiled egg topped with a thin, creamy yellow sauce, and usually includes a lettuce leaf and an olive or two. (A similar green sauce, called Ocopa, can be served over potatoes or yuca.) Papa rellena is mashed potato reformed into a potato-like shape, but with meat, vegetables, and other spicy filling in the middle. Aji de gallina is shredded chicken in a thick, spicy, cheese-based sauce over sliced potatoes, often with an olive and slice of hard-boiled egg. Causa is mashed potato layered with mayonnaise-based tuna or chicken salad mixed with hot peppers.

Many Peruvian dishes can contain strong condiments and be heavy, so if you have a weak stomach, proceed with caution.

Nowadays, the transport routes from the flat jungle areas are good enough to supply all the country with vegetables and fruits. Nevertheless, vegetables still have the status of a garnish for the meat. Vegetarian restaurants exist in all cities, but are relatively rare. In most areas, there is a rich offering of tropical fruits and fresh squeezed juices.

The natives typically eat in small restaurants or Chinese eateries ("chifas"); a menu there costs 5-8 Soles and includes a soup, a choice of main dish, and a drink.

If you count on international fast food chains, you will be disappointed. You find them almost nowhere except in the largest cities, and the prices are uniformly astronomical.

Peruvians are quite proud of their desserts, especially in Lima. Try them with care, since they tend to be extremely sweet and loaded with sugars, eggs yolks and similar ingredients. Try mazamorra morada, or purple custard, made from the same purple corn used for chicha morada drink; together with arroz con leche (rice with sweetened condensed milk) is called a combinado (combination). Picarones are a sort of donut, made from fried yams dough and served with chancaca, a very sweet sugarcane syrup. And the sweetest dessert suspiro Limeño is perfect if you are in sore need of a high-calorie glucose shock.

Drinks

The Pisco-Nasca area is famous for wine cultivating. Their more expensive vintages compare favorably against Chilean imports. Beer is nice, stronger than American brands but less full bodied than European ones. Most of Peruvian beers are made by Backus, currently owned by SAB Miller.

When drinking at bars and/or restaurants, be aware that Peruvian "Happy Hour" is a little different than in most countries. Prices for drinks will usually be posted on the walls and be a little cheaper than normal. The real differences is that you will be served 2 drinks, instead of one, for the listed price -- giving a new meaning to the term "half price." This can be a great way to save money (if you are traveling with a group) or to meet locals (if you are traveling alone). It can also lead you to get completely falling-down-drunk by accident, so be careful.

  • Caliente is a hot alcoholic drink served during celebrations in Andean towns such as Tarma. Its basically a herbal tea with white rum for that added kick.
  • Chicha de Jora, A cheap traditional alcoholic drink made from corn that is fermented and rather high in alcohol content for a non-distilled beverage. Not normally available at formal restaurants and quite uncommon in Lima outside of residential areas. Places that sell chicha have a long stick with a brightly-colored plastic bag on it propped up outside their door.
  • Chicha morada, not to be confused with the previous one, is a soft drink made from boiled purple corn, with sugar and spices added (not a soda). Quite refreshing, it is widely available and very recommendable. Normally Peruvian cuisine restaurants will have their freshly made supply as part of the menu; it is also available from street vendors or diners, but take care with the water. Bottled or canned chicha morada is made from concentrates and not as pleasant as freshly-boiled chicha.
  • Coca Tea or Mate de Coca, a tea made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is legal to drink this tea in Peru. It is great for adjusting to the altitude or after a heavy meal. It may be found cold but normally is served hot.
  • You can find many places that serve fresh fruit drinks. Peru has a wide variety of fruits since its natural variety, so if you get a good "jugueria" you will have lots of options to choose from.
  • The Peruvian amazon cities offer some typical drinks too as: masato, chuchuhuasi, hidromiel and others.
  • Coffee. Peru is the world's largest producer of organic coffee. Ask for 'cafe pasado', the essence produced by pouring boiling hot water over fresh ground coffee from places like Chanchamayo.
  • All of Peru's wines are inexpensive. Tacama, Ocucaje and Santiago Queirolo branded wines are the most reliable.
  • Emoliente. Another popular drink in Peru, often sold in the streets by vendors for 50 centimos. Served hot, its flavor is best described as a thick, viscous tea, but surprisingly refreshing - depending on what herb and fruit extracts you choose to put into it, of course. Normally the vendor's mix will be good enough if you choose not to say anything, but you're free to select the mix yourself. Normally sold hot, is the usual after-party drink, as a "reconstituyente", but it can be drunk cold too.
  • Inca Kola. The Peruvian equivalent of Coca Cola in the rest of the world, which was recently purchased by Coca Cola yet retains its unique taste. It is bright yellow and has its own unique flavor.
  • Pisco Sour. An alcoholic drink with an interesting ingredients list, such as egg whites, that is the main drink in Peru and is available in most places. It is made from Pisco, a Peruvian kind of brandy that is worth a try; it is a strong drink as pisco is over 40° (around 70-80 proof) spirit, and the sweet taste can be deceiving. Since Chile registered the brand Chilean Pisco for commercial purposes in some countries, Peruvian producers decided to defend the denomination of origin(Pisco is a very old city in Peru) by being very strict about the quality standards. Be sure that you will find a very high quality product in any brand of Pisco made in Peru.

Beer

Some large towns have their own brand of beer which is hard to get elsewhere in the country. Cusqueña is one of the most popular beers while Cristal is known as the beer of Peru, both can be found nation wide.

  • Arequipeña
  • Barena
  • Brahma
  • Cristal
  • Cusqueña
  • Franca
  • Pilsen Callao
  • Pilsen Trujillo

Shopping

The currency of Peru is the nuevo sol. As of 26 November 2013, US$1 = S/.2.80 and 1€ = S/.3.80 (S/. is the symbol for "nuevo sol"). Coins are available in five, two and one sol, and in 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 centimo. 5 and 1 centimo coins are not normally accepted outside of big supermarkets or banks, so avoid them (or bring them home for a collection or to give to friends). Notes are available at 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles denominations; 200 soles notes are uncommon and - just like large bills in other countries - will not be accepted in many places.

ATMs are available in big cities, upmarket hotels, and touristic areas. With a Cirrus or Maestro sign on it, you can withdraw cash easily. The exchange rate is the same as credit cards but fees are much lower. Some banks charge a fee for getting cash from their ATM's, with BBVA Banco Continental reportedly charging excessive fees without telling you in advance. Make sure to carry sufficient cash when visiting smaller towns, as your credit card or traveler checks might not be accepted there.

Credit cards and travelers checks are common. Although cash has a ca. 2% better change rate, you are strongly advised not to carry large amounts of cash on your journey. The Banco de Credito (BCP) gives good rates on traveler checks. Rates in change offices are often somewhat worse. It's always worth comparing them before changing your money. When changing your money in change offices, check their calculations. Most of them make calculations on the fly for the amount you want using an electronic calculator in plain view, even showing you the process step by step (unless they are brutally obvious, like changing tens or hundreds). If they don't show, keep the money in your pocket and find someone that does.

Always keep in mind that counterfeiting is a big problem in Peru: make sure to get familiar with the money and do not hesitate to reject any note or coin (especially the 5 sol coins) that look suspicious, just like any Peruvian would do. In other words, if you want to look like a savvy foreigner, take 10 seconds to check any paper note you get, even at a bank. All bills have a watermark and security stripe, and the large number on the extreme right denoting the denomination of the bill will change from purple to green when viewed at an angle. Don't take any note that is ripped; you won't be able to use it anywhere else but a bank.

If you are stuck with a counterfeit coin or note, if you try to use it at big stores they may want to confiscate it. Don't accept damaged/ripped bills, since you will have to take them to a bank in order to change them into new ones before you can spend them. Be especially careful when exchanging money with money-changers on the street (a common way for counterfeit money to enter the money supply) or at the border (notably the one with Ecuador).

Typically, small bills are very helpful to carry around. Change large bills into small ones as often as possible. If you only have 50 and 100 Soles notes on you, consider changing them at a bank. Local merchants and taxistas often claim to not have any change on them, forcing you to wait in public while they search for some (potentially dangerous) and sometimes with the hope that you'll grow impatient and let them keep the change.

In Peru, it's not as common for US$ to be accepted in transactions as in other countries (such as Ecuador), but some nice, new 10 or 20 US$ bills can be helpful in some situations. Often in small towns, local shops will change money for you. If so, it will be clearly marked.

Costs

If you're on a budget, you can get around well for US$50 a day. Basic hotels or hostels (hospedajes) are available everywhere, with dorm beds in youth hostels typically costing US$8-15. You'll find plenty of very cheap restaurants (US$0.50-1.50) but for slightly more (US$2 -3) you'll get an often much better lunch or dinner at better restaurants. Fancy restaurants are available in every city, with menus starting from US$20.

Buses are a fairly cheap way to get around. A 10 hour bus ride in a normal bus (not "Royal Class" or something like that) will set you back about US$6. If you can afford it, the more luxurious seats go for about double the price but will make a great difference in terms of comfort. Avoid bus companies that allow travellers to get into the bus outside the official stations. They are often badly managed and can be dangerous, due both to unsafe practices or to highway robberies, which are unfortunately not uncommon. This should be heeded especially by female travellers on their own. Your hotel, hostel or a local tourist information booth can point you to the better options.

Trains (except the ones for Machu Picchu, which are relatively expensive) run for similar fees.

Don't forget to retain your exit fee of US$30.25 They do accept USD or Soles for the fee and be sure to pay the exit fee before you get in line for security checks or you'll get to wait again.

Handicrafts

Peru is famous for a lot of different, really nice and relatively cheap handicrafts. Keep in mind that buying handicrafts support traditional skills and helps many families to gain their modest income. Look for:

  • Pullovers, and a lot of other (alpaca-)woolen products in all the Sierra. Puno is maybe the cheapest place.
  • Wall carpets (tejidos).
  • Carvings on stone, wood and dried pumpkins.
  • Silver and gold jewellery.
  • typical music instruments like pan flutes (zampoñas), skin drums.
  • many other

Do not accept any handicrafts that look like (or actually are) precolumbian pottery or jewelry. It is illegal to trade them and there is the possibility not only of them being confiscated, but of being prosecuted for illegal trading, even if the actual artifacts are copies or fakes. Dealing with the police from the criminal side is messy and really unpleasant.

Buyer beware: Watch out for fake (Bamba)Alpaca wool products many items sold to the unsuspecting gringo are actually synthetic or ordinary wool! That nice soft jumper in the market for US$8 or so is most certain to be acrylic. Even in places such as Puno there is no easy way to tell if it is made from Alpaca, sometimes it might have a small percentage of Alpaca mixed in with other fibres. Baby Alpaca is not from baby animals but the first shearing and the fibre is very soft and fine. Generally Alpaca fibre has a low lustre and a slightly greasy hand to it and is slow to recover from being stretched. Shop and compare; real Alpaca is expensive.

Bargaining

Bargaining is very common. If you are not used to it, respect some rules. If you intend to buy something, first ask the price, even if you already know what it actually should cost. Then check whether everything is all right. (Does the pullover fit you? Do you really want to buy it? Is the expiration date on the cheese exceeded? etc.) If the price is OK, pay it. If not, it's your turn to say a lower price, but stay realistic. First get an idea about how much you would expect to pay. Then say a price about 20-30% lower. It's always good if you can give some reason for that. Once you have said a price, you cannot give a lower one later. This would be regarded as a very impolite behavior. If you feel that you can't get your price, just say "No, gracias." and begin to walk away. This is your last chance. If you are lucky, the seller will give you a last offer, if not, say "No, gracias." again and go on walking. Realize that most of the products in touristy markets (i.e. the market in Pisac) will be sold in nearly every other market throughout your travels in Peru and South America, so try not to worry about never again finding that particular alpaca scarf.

You have a way for bargaining without saying an exact price, and it's saying "¿Nada menos?", then you will be asking just if they can lower a bit the price.

Keep in mind: Never begin to bargain if you don't really want to buy.

General Notes

Supermarkets can only be found in cities and are somewhat expensive. In every town, there is at least one market place or hall, except Lima that has a dense concentration of supermarkets, malls and department stores. In cities, there are different markets (or sections of one big market) for different articles.

Stores with similar articles tend to be grouped in the same street. So, if you once know the appropriate street when looking for something special, it shouldn't be no more problem to find it quite soon.

Giving tips in restaurants (at least when basic or middle-range) is not very common but 10% for good service is polite. In the cities, you will always find some beggars, either sitting on the streets, or doing a musical number on the buses. Many of them really need help, especially the elderly and handicapped. Usual givings are about 0.10 - 0.20 Soles (US$0.03-0.06). This is not much, but some unskilled workers don't get much more than 10 Soles for a hard working day. Whether you want to give money to child beggars or not is your decision. But consider that doing so may make it more attractive for parents to send their children begging in the street instead of sending them to school. Buy them food instead, they do need it.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Peru on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Peru

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Lima is the capital of Peru and its largest city. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the modern city is a curious mix of the modern mega city with some 'islands of modernity', large but orderly slum areas and colonial architecture in the city center. Lima was the seat of the ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Plaza Mayor
  • Government Palace
  • Cathedral of Lima
  • Aliaga Virreynal House
  • La Merced Church
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Cuzco , located in the Southern Sierras is a fascinating city that was the capital of the Inca Empire. Cuzco is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is one of Peru's most visited cities as it is the largest and most comfortable city from which tourists can begin visits to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Cusco Cathedral
  • UNSAAC Yale International Center
  • Sacsayhuaman
  • Cusco Museum of Popular Art
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Puno is a port city at an altitude of over 3,800 metres, on the shores of Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano of Peru. Despite its picturesque hillside setting, the city itself is a ramshackle collection of mostly unfinished modern buildings - its biggest attraction is as a departure point for the famous floating ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Puno Plaza de Armas
  • Puno Cathedral
  • Arco Deustua
  • Temple of Santiago Apostol
  • Nunez Butron Hospital
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Arequipa is a city in the Southern Coastal region of Peru just below the edge of the Altiplano, at 2380 meters above sea level and surrounded by three impressive volcanoes. It's Peru's second most important city (after Lima), and the second most popular among tourists (after Cuzco).

Interesting places:

  • Arequipa Cathedral
  • Arequipa Plaza de Armas
  • Santa Catalina Monastery
  • Society of Jesus Architectural Complex
  • Museum of Andean Sanctuaries
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Urubamba is a small town in Peru within the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Interesting places:

  • Salt Mines Of Maras
  • Moray Terraces
  • Santuario del Senor de Torrechayoc
  • Iglesia de Urubamba
  • Estadio de Urubamba
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Machu Picchu is the site of an ancient Inca city, high in the Andes of Peru. Located at 2,430 metres (8,000 ft), this UNESCO World Heritage site is often referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire, and is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Machu Picchu
  • Huayna Picchu
  • Aguas Calientes Hot Springs
  • Manuel Chavez Ballon Site Museum
  • Winaywayna Park
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Trujillo is a moderately large city in Northwestern Peru, very close to the Pacific Coast. Trujillo del Peru was founded in 1534 among 4 (of 3,500 archaeological sites in the valley) Chimu (& earlier remarkable cultures) settlements to enable the Spanish to ally with them against the Incas. Due to its ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Trujillo Plaza de Armas
  • Trujillo Cathedral
  • Huanchaco Beach
  • Huaca del Sol
  • Chan Chan
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Zorritos is a village on the Northern Coast of Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Zorritos Park
  • Zorritos Hot Springs
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Chiclayo is in northern coastal Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Santa Maria Cathedral
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Paracas National Reserve is a popular nature reserve on the Southern Coast of Peru. Paracas is also a very popular beach resort destination although the beach in the town itself is small and not clean. The town Paracas is also referred as El Chaco.

Interesting places:

  • El Chaco Beach
  • Paracas Golf Club
  • Julio C. Tello Museum
  • Paracas National Reservation
  • Paracas Port
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Piura is the capital city of the region of Piura in northern Peru. It´s a bit bustly and not overly beautiful, yet still has an attractive air, and is a great place to gobble down some tasty Peruvian cuisine.

Interesting places:

  • Kurt Beer Ecological Park
  • Piura Cathedral
  • Paita Beach
  • National Universtiy of Piura
  • Armas Plaza
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Interesting places:

  • Fortaleza Real Felipe
  • Minka Shopping Centre

Ica

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Ica is a hot, busy and chaotic city at the Peruvian Coast. It's famous for its wine.

Interesting places:

  • Huacachina Oasis
  • Iglesia De San Francisco De Asis
  • Plaza De Armas
  • Jose Picasso Peratta Stadium
  • Museo Regional de Ica
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Cajamarca is located in the northern highlands of Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Ransom Room
  • San Francisco Church
  • Cajamarca Plaza de Armas
  • Cajamarca Cathedral
  • Santa Apolonia Hill
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Interesting places:

  • San Antonio Pre-Inca Ruins
  • Church of Yanque
  • Museum of Yanque
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Interesting places:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Santo Domingo de Chincha
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Nazca is a town in Peru's Southern Coast region. It is most famous for the so-called Nazca Lines, a mix of long lines, geometrical figures, and giant drawings in the desert sand.

Interesting places:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Nazca Lines
  • Cantayoc Aqueduct
  • Antonini Archaeological Museum
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Huaraz is a large town in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru's Central Sierra.

Interesting places:

  • Huaraz Plaza de Armas
  • Huaraz Cathedral
  • Huascaran National Park
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Tumbes is the capital of the department of the same name in the Region Grau of Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Paseo Jerusalem Statue
  • Tumbes Stadium
  • Plaza de Armas
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Interesting places:

  • Suasi Scenic Trail
  • Isla Suasi Dock
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Pisac is a small town about 35 km from Cuzco. Pisac is most of all famous for its Sunday market, but also for some ruins dating from about the same time as Machu Picchu. Pisac lives at a very different pace than nearby Cuzco. There is something very harmonious about the whole place, a harmony that evades ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Pisac Market
  • Pisac Archaeological Park
  • Intiwatana
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Interesting places:

  • Punta Sal Beach
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Ollantaytambo is a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas near Cuzco in the Southern Sierra region of Peru. This is where the Incas retreated after the Spanish took Cuzco. Much of the town is laid out in the same way as it was in Inca times.

Interesting places:

  • Ollantaytambo Terraces
  • Llaqtapata
  • Plaza de Armas
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Interesting places:

  • Thermal Baths of La Calera
  • Cathedral Of Chivay
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Pisco is a medium sized town on the Southern Coast of Peru just south of Lima. This fisher town itself has little to offer to tourists and is best used only as a starting point for a trip to the Ballestas Islands and possibly the nearby salt desert and national reserve, Paracas.

Interesting places:

  • Pisco Plaza de Armas
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Andahuaylas is a city in the Southern Sierra region of Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Catedral de San Pedro
  • Sondor Archaeological Site
  • Plaza de Talavera
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La Merced is a town in Southern Sierra, it is the capital of the Chanchamayo Province in the Junín Region, Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Tirol Waterfall
  • La Merced Church
  • Kimiri Suspension Bridge
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Interesting places:

  • Manu National Park
  • Pillcoppata Plaza
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Interesting places:

  • Santo Tomas Cathedral
  • Santo Tomas Plaza
  • Santo Tomas Stadium
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Sauce is a city in San Martin.

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Máncora is a small beachtown smacked on the PanAmericana at the Peruvian Northern coast. During holidays, peruvians come all the way from Lima to spend their holidays at the beach. It turns into a real partytown with an overcrowded beach and bars competing for the loudest music day and night.

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Iquitos is in the Amazonas region of Peru. This is not to be confused with the Department Amazonas where Chachapoyas is located. Iquitos is the capital of the vast Department of Loreto, which covers most of the northern Amazon region of Peru. For travelers, Iquitos offers a vast selection of activities not ... (read more)

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Colca Canyon is in Peru's Southern Sierra region, near Arequipa.

Interesting places:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Condor\'s Cross
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Huancayo is the capital of the department of Junin in Southern Sierra region of Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Huancayo Cathedral
  • Plaza Constitucion
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Santa Teresa (La Convención) is a town within the Southern Sierra of Peru in the province of La Convención.

Interesting places:

  • Cocal Mayo Hot Springs
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Interesting places:

  • Lac Sachavacayoc
  • Macaw Clay-Lick
  • Jungle Tower
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Interesting places:

  • Pimentel Beach
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Interesting places:

  • Santa Maria Beach
  • Pucusana Beach
  • El Silencio Beach
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Chachapoyas is a city in Amazonas.

Interesting places:

  • Kuelap
  • Gocta Waterfalls
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Chinchero is a city in the Southern Sierras of Peru.

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Tarapoto, known as the "City of Palms," is located in the District of San Martín, "la tierra de las cataratas" (the land of waterfalls), located on the high jungle plateau in the northern part of Peru.

Interesting places:

  • Tarapoto National University of San Martin
  • Ahuashiyacu Falls
  • Petroglifos de Polish
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Puerto Maldonado is the main city of the Departemant of Madre de Dios, Peru. The city itself has not too many tourist attractions, but it is the starting point for jungle trips.

Interesting places:

  • Puerto Maldonado Plaza de Armas
  • Puerto Maldonado Obelisk
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Aguas Calientes is a small town at the bottom of the valley next to Machu Picchu, and the principal access point to the site. Despite its magnificent setting, it's not the most scenic town, owing to fast and ruthless development to support the huge influx of tourists. Unless you're on a daytrip from Cusco or ... (read more)

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Ayacucho is in the Southern Sierra region of Peru. The population is about 100,000, altitude 2,700 m. Ayacucho is embedded in a broad sunny valley with mild climate. It is home of the Morocucho people, a group of the Quechua.

Interesting places:

  • Ayacucho Plaza de Armas
  • Ayacucho Cathedral
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The Southern Sierra region of Peru is characterised by high mountains and steep, deep valleys. Many roads are unpaved. Thus, travelling is often somewhat troublesome and slow, but the scenery is amazing.

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Points of Interest in Peru

Forgotten temples in dense Amazon jungles, lost Inca cities, fabulous wildlife and extra-ordinary folklore. Peru holds all the stuff adventure movies are made of.

Many of the best Inca sites are around the beautiful city of Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire and now a World Heritage Site itself, as well as a bustling city. Book at least half a year in advance if you want to walk the famous 3 day hike Inca Trail, which commonly starts at the 15th century Inca dwellings of Ollantaytambo. Your imagination must be on its A-game to see past the large crowds at the end destination, Machu Picchu, but it's worth your trouble. Wait for the biggest crowds to leave, find a quiet spot away from the tourist hassle and contemplate your view of one of the most famous and spectacular archaeological sites in the world. The list of great Peruvian ruins from Pre-Columbian times is long, and not all of them are of Inca origin. A World Heritage Site, the ancient adobe capital Chan Chan, built by the Chimú culture, was conquered in the 15th century. Other popular sites are the tombs of Sipán, the ruined fortress of Kuelap, the pre-Incan burial grounds of Sillustani, and Caral, the most ancient city in the Americas. Particularly well-known are the spectacular Nazca lines, which you should see from the air, even if it'll take some haggling to get your ticket for the right price.

Natural attractions

Home to 84 out of the 104 recognized ecological zones in the world, Peru is incredibly rich in biological diversity. Benefiting from a broad array of landscapes and ecosystems, this country is a Valhalla for anyone who loves wildlife. It's condors, llama's and jaguars that Peru is famous for, but almost a third of the bird species in the world and no less than 4000 butterflies live here too.

One of the best places to see all of this natural beauty is Manú National Park. This World Heritage Site boasts over 15000 plant species, a 1000 different birds and some 220 mammals, including pumas, Giant anteaters and many monkeys. Disputably called the "world's deepest canyon", the stunning Colca Canyon is Peru's third most-visited destination, just a stones-throw out of the beautiful city of Arequipa. Get close to the celebrated Andean Condors as they fly along the high canyon walls or buy a colourful handmade souvenir from one of the indigenous people that populate the picturesque Colca Valley. Of all the peaks in the Peruvian Andes, the 6768m Huascarán in Huascarán National Park is the highest of all. This 3000 km² World Heritage Site holds 663 glaciers, 296 lakes and 41 tributaries of three major rivers. The large city of Iquitos is a popular starting point to discover the mystic Amazon River, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It's also the capital city of the Charapa culture. Just a few other great picks out of the long list of protected areas in Peru are Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Rio Abiseo National Park and Cutervo National Park (with many caves).

Folklore

The diversity of Peru's people and cultures is reflected in a rich tradition of festivals, dance and music. In the Andes, the plaintive wail of the flute and beat of the drum accompany songs depicting indigenous life while dancers masked as devils and spirits are a marriage of pagan and Christian beliefs. In the jungle, ceremonial music and dance are a window into tribal life. And along the coast, a blend of elegant Spanish sounds and vibrant African rhythms reflect the Conquest and later slave labor of the New World.

Other highlights

Make your way to the blue waters of Lake Titicaca for an enchanting, high altitude encounter with local peasant women wearing bowler hats and join in the celebrations of their ancient communities. Puno is a good place to start, also for a laid-back boat ride to the various islands and Altiplano towns on and around the lake, all with their own character and historic remains. If you're craving perfect beaches and a sunburn, head to the crowded sands and resorts of Máncora. Spend a day in one of the many excellent museums in Lima and dance until the morning in one of the cities popular clubs. Buy shamanistic herbs at the market of Chiclayo and see the dozens of tombs around it.

Machu Picchu - Machu Picchu

Plaza Mayor - Lima

Cusco Cathedral - Cusco

Arequipa Cathedral - Arequipa

Huacachina Oasis - Ica

Fortaleza Real Felipe - Callao

Ollantaytambo Terraces - Ollantaytambo

Trujillo Plaza de Armas - Trujillo

Tacna Cathedral - Tacna

Ransom Room - Cajamarca

Pisac Market - Pisac

Ayacucho Plaza de Armas - Ayacucho

Pimentel Beach - Pimentel

Puno Plaza de Armas - Puno

Iquitos Plaza de Armas - Iquitos

Huaraz Plaza de Armas - Huaraz

Kuelap - Chachapoyas

Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site - Chavin de Huantar

Santa Maria Cathedral - Chiclayo

Pisco Plaza de Armas - Pisco

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