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Destination of the Month: Peru

August 1, 2017

 

From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the exotic Amazon jungle, Peru's diverse landscape means the potential for adventure is endless. 

 

Hike the traditional Inca Trail Trek to the 16th century citadel of Machu Picchu, the ancient ‘Lost City of the Incas’, or fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines on the coastal desert. 

 

You can discover the lush Amazon jungle or explore the museums in Lima’s ‘city of Kings’; wander the colonial city of Arequipa; watch condors soar over the Colca Canyon or enjoy a friendly welcome from the locals at homestays in Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca. 

 

December to February is the rainy season, making it the quietest time for travellers everywhere except the coast, where sunny weather draws those seeking beach days. 

 

The dry season lasts between June and August, the perfect time to hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu. It is also the best time for viewing wildlife in the Amazon, although be prepared for hot and humid weather year-round in the jungle. 

 

As one of South America's most popular destinations, it also happens to be one of our favourites. So in conjunction with our friends at Tucan Travel, we've put together some highlights...

Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail

 

 

Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world, sat deep in the Andean mountains. Originally designed to be completely self-contained, surrounded by natural springs and agriculture to feed the population, the Inca citadel was only rediscovered in the early 20th century. 

 

The ruins are accessible by train and bus or, for the more adventurous, a four-day hike. 

 

Despite its popularity with travellers, the site still retains its mystery and is a must-see for those visiting the region. 

 

 

Amazon Jungle

 


Covering over half the country, the Amazon jungle is an ecological treasure. 

 

The Amazon river has more water than the next eight rivers combined and despite covering over 50% of the country, the jungle only houses 5% of the population. 

 

Venture out from jungle cities, Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos, to spot monkeys, birds, river turtles, caiman and capybara in one of the most biodiverse regions on earth. 

 

Whether you explore by air, land or sea, the jungle's almost mythical status will blow you away. 

 

 

Lake Titicaca

 

 

As the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca is a marvel in itself. 

 

Floating islands made of reeds are home to the indigenous people, Uros, who have been living this way for centuries. 

 

The (non-floating) islands offer homestay opportunities for those wishing to experience the traditional way of life.

 

 

Ballestas Islands

 

 

These islands lie off the coast of Peru, south of Lima, and offer refuge for many wildlife species.

 

Home to sea lions, dolphins and Humboldt penguins, the archipelago can only be explored by boat as the islands themselves are protected. 

 

You can see an array of interesting sea birds here including Guanay cormorant, blue-footed boobies and the Peruvian pelican.

 

 

Nazca Lines


A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world's great mysteries, the Nazca Lines are a group of geoglyphs etched into desert sands.

 

Found spread over 500 square kilometres, these surreal line drawings have puzzled academics for many years. 

 

The best way to see the glyphs is by air and with scenic flights available from the nearby town of Nazca, it’s never been easier.

 

 

Colca Canyon

 

 

Once colonised by pre-Inca civilisations, Colca Canyon is both a cultural and a natural highlight. 

 

At 3,400 metres, Colca is one of the world's deepest canyons and one of Peru's most popular destinations. 

 

Formed by a geological fault between two volcanoes, the site is now home to famous residents, the mighty condor, who can be seen riding the updraughts of the canyon's thermals. 

 

 

Huacachina


A tiny village just west of the city of Ica, the towering sand dunes will convince you you’re in the Sahara desert. 

 

The idyllic Huacachina oasis stands out as an emerald jewel amongst the gold, with palm trees thought to have therapeutic properties encircling its lagoon.

 

The oasis is a tranquil setting, as well as a hub for adventure activities.

 

 

Lima

 

The nation's capital, Lima has a population of 8.5 million people and there's lots to explore if you have time to scratch the surface.

 

With endless restaurants and cafes, it's the perfect place to sample Peru's diverse cuisine, and its museums are a great way to learn about the region's culture and early civilisations. As one of the world's six cradles of civilisation, Peru is not short of items of antiquity. 

 

Once your curiosity is sated, wander through the city's colonial heart to see its Baroque churches.

 

 

Cuzco