Five Things to Do in Spectacular Peru
Already thinking of escaping the cold? Here’s why the Caribbean is still tops this year.
by Mary Wimmer
Its many historical sites and timeworn cities have gripped the public imagination for centuries, inspiring professional explorers and adventurous vacationers alike to discover the rich past of a long-gone civilization. Home to no less than 11 World Heritage Sites, Peru boasts a wealth of historical riches to discover, legacies of the Inca Empire that flourished there from the 13th to 15th centuries. With so much to see and do in Peru, we’ve pulled together the Top Five below for time-strapped travellers looking to explore the very best that the country has to offer.
Sightsee in Cuzco
The city of modern-day Cuzco, on the eastern slope of the Andean mountains of Peru, some 3 400 metres above sea level, once served as the political and military centre of the Empire, giving it the regal moniker of Imperial City of the Incas. Not for nothing was this noble city named a UNESCO Cultural Site in 1983; its well-preserved sites include structures like the Temple of the Sun and baroque churches and cathedrals built by Spanish conquistadors. Be sure to check out the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, Inca Museum, and Chocolate Museum for a glimpse – and taste – of the city’s storied history.
Trek the Inca Trail
Take in a breath full of invigorating mountain air while following along the footpath of the Inca on their trail – one of the most famous in South America, if not the world. The hike is lined in parts with Incan paving stones, tunnels and walls; all set against a breathtaking backdrop of mountain peaks and subtropical jungles. Combine the cultural highlights of the Sacred Valley with the physical challenges of a mountain hike; while there may be thousands of kilometres of roadways criss-crossing the mountains, the Classic Inca Trail tour can be done in less than five days.
Explore Machu Picchu
After exploring Cuzco, make sure you hike the trail through to the aptly-named Sun Gate that takes you to what just might be the most stunning part of your vacation: glimpsing the most glorious creation of the Incan civilization, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, through mist-shrouded mountain peaks. At 2 400 metres above sea level, the erstwhile Lost City of the Incas has been wowing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year since Hiram Bingham discovered it more than a century ago. The site gained its world-class importance and historical significance as one of the only ruins not destroyed by the country’s Spanish colonizers.
Fall in love with Lima
Far from the mountains, on the coastal part of the country sits Peru’s capital city, Lima. Founded by the famed conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 as the King of Cities, Lima has grown over the centuries to comprise 43 districts and some 10 million inhabitants. Although it’s built in a desert (fun fact: Cairo is the only metropolis in the world that is drier than Lima), the city is home to one of the world’s largest fountain parks that has earned it the nickname of Garden City. Tour Lima’s historic birthplace at its Plaza de Armas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to the country’s the Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, and Government Palace, among other civic buildings. Explore its oceanfront and sprawling hillsides, making sure to take in its museums, restaurants and vibrant nightlife.
No trip to Peru is complete without trying its national dish, ceviche. A popular seafood creation enjoyed all over the coastal regions of Latin America, it is so beloved in Peru that the country celebrates the tasty dish every year on National Ceviche Day. While the exact origins of ceviche are somewhat murky, one thing remains clear: there’s no end to the pride that Peruvians have when preparing the raw fish for consumption by curing it in their own unique way, using citrus juices and chili peppers. Need to wash it down with something? Make sure you reach for a Pisco Sour, a cocktail that is essentially synonymous with the country; made by combining Peruvian pisco with Key lime, syrup, ice, egg white and Angostura bitters.
Want to explore the treasures of Peru but not sure how to get there, or even who to go with? Join our next Solo Traveller Club trip to see all that the spectacular country has to offer, without having to do any of the planning – we’ll take care of that for you!
The Wonders of Peru trip departs on May 11 and runs through until May 20, 2018, and includes eight nights’ hotel accommodation in a single room with breakfast and dinner daily, roundtrip group arrival and departure transfers to/from hotel, private group tour with an English speaking local guide, a trip to a women’s weaving co-op, the Pisac ruins and lunch in the Sacred Valley, return Vista Dome Train journey to Aguas Calientes and entry to Machu Picchu, tour of the ruins with an expert guide in Machu Picchu, and free time to explore Peru and it’s many sites, museums and restaurants, as well as local flights from Cusco to Lima return; for the all-inclusive price per person of $3,799, per person.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your preferred CAA Travel Consultant to book. Hurry, only a few spots left!