South America Travel

Peru Overview

The highlight of Peru: The citadel of Machu Picchu Whether in pursuit of high altitude adventure, a spiritual quest, archaeological phenomenon, or vibrant nightlife, a visit to Peru truly satisfies. Nestled between Bolivia to its south and Ecuador to its north, this seaside country also shares borders with Chile, Brazil, and Columbia. For the nature enthusiast, Peru's oddly contradicting natural features produce a fascinating array of wildlife, including whales, giant otters, and jaguars. Head east of the Andes into the Peruvian jungle, where you'll glimpse some of the richest biodiversity on earth. Peru has several well-established national parks along the desert seacoast, at the edge of the "Altiplano", and among the high Andean Cordillera.

Rich in ancient culture and tradition, Peru is also home to imperial ruins of great civilizations, including the lost city of Machu Picchu and The Nasca Lines, an enigma of mysterious desert etchings. The Peruvian Andes provide unrivalled mountain trekking and cycling prospects for the adrenaline seeker, as well as the spiritual traveler seeking the teachings of a shaman. At the other end of the spectrum there is Lima, Peru's desert metropolis boasting some of the best nightlife, music, and museums in all of South America.

Lima, known as Peru's "city by the sea", is a virtual metropolis on the central desert coastline, as well as an economic magnet for highland and Amazonian villagers. The bustling sophistication of Lima is guaranteed to indulge the cosmopolitan traveler's every desire. First class museums and nightlife, indigenous music, dazzling architecture, historical neighborhoods, and friendly locals abound. Head north of Lima, to Huaraz, Peru's mountaineering center, or up the coast to Chicama for surfing and traditional Peruvian fishing. Afterwards, soothe sore muscles at nearby Cajamarca's rejuvenating hot springs.

A native walking to one of the churches in Cusco, Peru Famous for its reputation as the gringo hangout of South America, Cusco is also the oldest inhabited city in Peru and an archaeology lover's dream. With access to the mountaintop city of Machu Picchu, the sacred Urubamba Valley, and plenty of exciting nightlife, Cusco is considered the most important hub for travelers to the Incan Empire. Travel back in time strolling stone wall-lined streets and mingle with friendly Quechua-speaking Incan descendants. From Cusco, take the southern coastal route along the magnificent Paracas Peninsula to see the largest sea lion colony on earth. Just offshore, the Ballestas Islands lure nature lovers with some of the best seabird watching in the world.

Dubbed "The White City" for its beautiful buildings constructed of a light-colored volcanic rock called sillar, Arequipa is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, including the volcano El Misti, providing ample photo opportunities. Be sure to include a visit to the historical Convento de Santa Catalina, a colonial house of worship. Don't miss a trip to Iquitos, the most popular Amazonian city within the Peruvian jungle. Located in the northern region of the Amazon Basin, Iquitos is a central starting point for jungle exploration.

A trip to Peru is incomplete without a visit to the spectacular Manu Biosphere Reserve in southeastern Peru. Among habitats ranging from high Andes and cloud forests to lowland tropical rainforests, adventurous travelers will discover a world teeming with exotic birds and butterflies, black caiman, spectacled bears, tapirs, ocelots, monkeys, and the elusive jaguar.

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