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Peru is often simply associated with the historical sites of Machu Picchu, but there is much more . Be tempted to discover the richness of its people, nature and ornithology, archaeology, eco-tourism, gastronomic delights, adventure tourism, luxury travel, traditional festivities and much more.
One Country, many destinations.
KINGDOMS OF SAND
Encompassed by the desert sands, the seashore, the coastal valleys and the Dry Equatorial Forest, the sunny lands of Lambayeque and La Libertad are revealing to the world the mysteries of powerful civilizations.
A route of monumental buildings, exquisite gold jewelry, amazing natural biodiversity, and overflowing friendliness that can be enjoyed throughout the entire year.
Art for the Gods
The Moche reached a high level of artistic development, which can be seen in their rich iconography that is expressed in architecture, painted walls, pottery, and objects of metal, wood, textile as well as other materials they worked in. The sophisticated metallurgic techniques used by the Moche were not discovered in Europe until many centuries later (XVIII and XIX).
Moche World View
The Moche elite exercised religious, political, administrative, and economic power through rituals that followed a ceremonial calendar. Another recent discovery at the El Brujo archeological site has once again got everyone talking about the Moche and Chimu cultures. This time, it is about the mummified remains of a female ruler, christened the Señora de Cao, who lived more than 1700 years ago. In the tomb, archeologists discovered a large number of artifacts and spider and serpent tattoos on the mummy’s arms, ankles, and feet.
With more than 1,200 species, the northern route includes a surprising number of endemic birds, among them being the marvelous Spatulatail hummingbird (loddigesia mirabilis) and the white winged guan (Penelope albipennis), making bird watchers drool at the prospect of seeing one.
Peru is one of the 12 mega-diverse countries due in large part to the environmental, geographical, and climactic characteristics found in the North, which are caused by the clash of two massive currents of water, one warm, the El Niño (north to south), and the other cold, the Humboldt Current (south to north). Further
affecting this area is its proximity to the equator, as does it being the lowest point along the Andes, all of which has profoundly influenced the environmental conditions of its unique ecosystems.
More than 2000 years ago, our ancestors took to the sea to do their daily fishing on narrow, one-man boats constructed from reeds. Some of the images Pre-Hispanic cultures sewed into textile artifacts and painted on their ceramic pieces are testimonies to the possibility that surfing actually began on the shores of what is today Peru. Peru possesses an incredibly huge range of beaches along the 3080 km of coastline. It also features one of the most consistent surfs in the world with different currents producing abundant waves up and down its coast.
The best time to surf, though, is from October to March.
Access to northern beaches is easy thanks to the Pan American Highway, and some of the best are Mancora, Los Organos, Pacasmayo, Chicama, and Huanchaco, each of which boasts a fine tourism infrastructure. If you wish to experience world class surfing, then we recommend trying Lobitos, Poemape, and Cabo Blanco, yet always contact authorized specialists beforehand who can assist you.
There is a legend that speaks of a monstrous snake named Yacumama which joined with the earth and transformed into a river to give life to the people.
The Amazon, world’s mightiest river, is that fabled serpent on which you can navigate to see places such as the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, the largest of its kind in Peru. Its water are teeming with a never ending list of exotic animal species, the likes of paiches, pink dolphins, caimans, anacondas, manatees, etc.
Not only is the Amazon the name of that famous river, but also of the region with the largest tropical rainforest in the world, nearly 6 million km2 spread out over nine South American countries. Peru happens to be possessor of more than 13% of that territory.
The myth of Kon, god of fertility and agriculture, tells us how he sent abundant rains to the human race, who, in turn, were then able to cultivate crops and produce large harvests. But later, humans forgot to honor him as the creator god, so Kon decided to punish them, cutting off the rain and thereby turning the once fertile lands into immense deserts that ran from the mountains to the coastline. The only water humans could use to farm came from the few rivers that flowed down the mountains, and they had to toil and to sweat to eke out a living from that point onwards.
Sacred City of Caral
This city was built in the midst of the desert around 2700 B.C by the oldest civilization in the Americas. Its complex architecture is comprised of thirty two public structures and several residential buildings, and several more of the latter were constructed on the outskirts of this complex in an area that borders the valley.
Chavin de Huantar archeological complex
It is one of the most important ceremonial centers in Andean history, proof of which are the offerings discovered there that came from all corners of Peru.
The most important structure is the Old Temple, a.k.a. the Lanzon Temple; it is a pyramid with underground tunnels in which a large granite statue called the Lanzon was found.
It is deemed one of the most important ceremonial centers on the Peruvian coast and was occupied continuously for at least two thousand years, the last known occupants being the Incas. Spread out on its 492 hectares is a group of pyramids.
The Cordillera Blanca is the tallest tropical mountain chain in the world and is world famous for being a great place for climbing mountains. And if your passion is alpinism, then the three cities you must visit are Kathmandu, Nepal, Zermatt, Switzerland, and Huaraz, Peru, South America’s mountain climbing capital.
The king of all towering peaks in that cordillera is without a doubt Mount Huascaran, reaching 6788 meters into the sky. One interesting experience you can take is the Llama Trek that, as the name suggests, is a trek that uses llamas (and alpacas) for pack animals. Another sublime trek takes you through the Santa Cruz Valley. As for other extreme activities you can enjoy in the mountains, there is horseback riding, mountain biking, white water rafting, rock climbing, alpinism, and canyoning.
For white water rafting enthusiasts, the thundering waters of the Santa River turns that waterway into a definite Peruvian hot spot. It is located just 30 km from the city of Huaraz in the Huaylas Canyon. Best season to enjoy rafting there is from May to October.
Mountain bikers will find the central jungle region, where the eastern slopes of the Andes meet the steamy heat from the rainforest, as the site of adrenaline soaring races. Riders will cruise down steep roads, drop offs, and flat stretches, all the while surrounded by nature bursting on all sides and the occasional waterfall, like El Tirol, whose water tumbles off a 25 meter high cliff.
A Gastronomic Eden
Sights, smells, tastes, and textures are combined in such a way as to create magical foods, pure symphonies of sensations, that will surprise you, spark your senses, and give you a glimpse of what Eden must have been like. Peruvian territory is possessor of such ecological and climatic diversity that our chefs have an abundant supply of ingredients to work with, making Peru a real paradise for them. And all the culinary traditions of the coast, mountains, and jungle have found their way into Lima and are flourishing such that the city has been declared the Latin American Gastronomic Capital.
In terms of the three geographic regions and their corresponding foods, the Pacific Ocean is where the coast finds its inspiration and ingredients. Likewise, the northern coastal regions are also famous for their dishes featuring rice and fowl or goat.
In the mountains, food is based upon potatoes (with more than 3000 varieties), corn, and the ever so Peruvian chili pepper. Yet, these ingredients are also present elsewhere in the country. In the jungle, where rivers are king, dishes feature game meat and are usually accompanied by bananas and cassava.
And for the best tasting desserts, we reach for fruit, like cherimoya and lucuma.
Throughout the centuries, Peru has seen multiple waves of immigrants wash ashore, from the Spanish to the Moors, Africans, Italians, Japanese, and Chinese. Such a melting pot has made for the most exquisite preparations the world over.
AN EXPLOSION OF NATURE
Peru possesses eighty-four of the existing 104 life zones and shelters more than 70% of all living species on the planet in its jungles. But what makes this country so special, naturally speaking, is its numerous national parks and reserves through which you can travel and observe many of those animals in their natural habitats. Here are just a couple:
Tambopata National Reserve: Spanning two Peruvian departments: Madre de Dios and Puno, its claim to fame is the incredible numbers of recorded animal species living in its bounds: 632 bird, 1,200 butterfly, 169 mammal, 205 fish, 103 amphibian, and 67 reptile species.
Manu National Park: It also spans two Peruvian departments, this time Cusco and Madre de Dios. UNESCO deemed Manu so important that it placed it on the World Heritage List in 1987. The park is home to an unrivalled variety of animal and plant species, and spread throughout the Cultural or Buffer Zone are 35 Quechua-speaking agricultural communities as well as several indigenous communities, whose members speak other native languages.
Peru can boast more than 10,000 years of history, and its people love to show off that legacy through each dance they perform, song they sing, and way of life they espouse. The small towns dotting Peru’s central Andean region have plenty to offer their visitors. In the Arequipa Region, for example, there is the Colca Canyon, carved by the river with the same name; it is one of the world’s deepest as its floor touches a depth of 3.4 kilometers.
Standing in its depths and looking skyward, you can marvel at the passage of the world’s largest flying bird, the condor, floating on winds above the mountain walls. Further south, high in the mountains (3810 meters), lies Lake Titicaca. Its 8559 km2 surface area has been for thousands of years, and still is, a source of livelihood for its many different communities. For 2200 of those years (1800 B.C. – 400 A.D.), the Pukara culture flourished in its confines. Later, the Tiahuanacos and Uros reigned over this area. Then it was the time of the Aymaras, who carved out a realm from 1100 A.D. to the time of the Spanish Conquistadors.
The ancient gods formed a natural observatory in the sands of Peru’s southern deserts, the fame of which went forth throughout the continent such that all its sages gathered there, living harmoniously with each other and studying the universe.
Nasca Lines: On an almost 750 km2 stretch of desert floor, sheltered from strong winds by surrounding hills, the Nasca and Paracas peoples scratched mysterious images in the sand that can only truly be appreciated looking down upon them from the sky at 1500 feet. UNESCO has also declared them part of its World Heritage Sites.
Paracas National Reserve: Where the ocean meets the desert is the spot of one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems: Paracas. In its cold waters thrive abundant plankton plus an enormous variety of fish, seaweed, and other ocean species. It is also a place favored by sea lions and site where 216 bird species nest in or migrate thousands of miles to, feeding and resting in its overwhelming natural scenery.
Capac Ñan (Incan Road System)
The Capac Ñan was traversed by consecrated messengers called Chasquis who brought news of the empire to the ears of the Emperor. There is also a legend that says part of their job was to deliver fresh fish from the ocean each day to his table. The network of roads that crisscrossed the entire Incan Empire, which included parts of six modern South American nations, stretches 30,000 km to 40,000 km.
You can choose to travel upon different portions of the Capac Ñan, and one such stretch of road will take them to the Choquequirao Archeological Site, whose fame is reaching levels on par with Machu Picchu. The four day trek crosses several different natural settings, and you will have plenty to appreciate as you journey from upper jungle regions (known locally as the “eyebrow of the jungle”) to lower tropical zones.
Another often trekked section takes you to the town of Lares. The four day route connects different small communities where you can meet and greet their inhabitants, who still dress and act as their ancestors did hundreds of years before. The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow of a trek is a relaxing dip in the Lares hot springs.
The Incas were the ones who squeezed the most from the beauty and kindness of these lands sitting at an altitude of 2800 meters. They flourished on both sides of the Vilcanota River, building towns, palaces, fortresses, temples, and other sites where they conducted rituals proper to Andean belief systems.
The tour of this pleasant valley passes through the towns of Pisac, Yucay, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, and Chincheros, each of which boasts archeological sites and markets where handmade souvenirs of all sorts are sold.
The Sacred Valley supposedly has perfect weather, such that it is said that ancient dwellers of what is now Peru used to travel to these parts in order to be cured of their respiratory diseases. From November to April, the rains cause the mountains to turn an intense shade of green, and the temperatures are pleasantly warm. During the dry season, the blue sky dominates the color scheme, and the cloudless nights offer a spectacle of stars unmatched in the world.