What is Peru known for?
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- Peru, country in western South America.
- Except for the Lake Titicaca basin in the southeast, its borders lie in sparsely populated zones.
- The boundaries with Colombia to the northeast and Brazil to the east traverse lower ranges or tropical forests, whereas the borders with Bolivia to the southeast, Chile to the south, and Ecuador to the northwest run across the high Andes.
- To the west, territorial waters, reaching 200 miles (320 km) into the Pacific Ocean, are claimed by Peru.
Peru has so much to offer, here are some of the things Peru is known for.
A fantastic Inca citadel lost to the world until its rediscovery in the early 20th century, Machu Picchu: stands as a ruin among ruins. With its emerald terraces, backed by steep peaks and Andean ridges that echo on the horizon, the sight simply surpasses the imagination. Beautiful it is. This marvel of engineering has withstood six centuries of earthquakes, foreign invasion and howling weather. Discover it for yourself, wander through its stone temples, and scale the dizzying heights of Wayna Picchu.
Floating Reed Islands, Lake Titicaca
Less a lake than a highland ocean, the Titicaca area is home to fantastical sights, but none more so than the surreal floating islands crafted entirely of tightly woven totora reeds. Centuries ago, the Uros people constructed the Islas Uros: in order to escape more aggressive mainland ethnic groups, such as the Incas. The reeds require near-constant renovation and are also used to build thatched homes, elegant boats and even archways and children’s swing sets. See this wonder for yourself with a homestay visit that includes fishing and learning traditional customs.
Hiking in the Cordillera Blanca
The dramatic peaks of the Cordillera Blanca: stand sentinel over Huaraz and the surrounding region like an outrageously imposing granite Republican Guard. The range is the highest outside of the Himalayas, and 16 of its ostentatious summits breach 6000m, making it the continent’s most challenging collection of summits-in-waiting. Glacial lakes, massive Puya raimondii plants and shards of sky-pointed rock all culminate in Parque Nacional Huascarán, where the Santa Cruz Trek rewards the ambitious with a living museum of razor-sharp peaks.
Peru’s second-largest metropolis bridges the historical gap between the Inca glories of Cuzco and the clamorous modernity of Lima. Crowned by dazzling baroque-mestizo (a mix of indigenous and Spanish) architecture hewn out of the local sillar (white volcanic rock), Arequipa: is primarily a Spanish colonial city that hasn’t strayed far from its original conception. Its ethereal natural setting, amid snoozing volcanoes and the high pampa, is complemented by a 400-year-old monastery, a huge cathedral and some interesting Peruvian fusion cuisine eloquently showcased in traditional picanterías (local restaurants).
Parque Nacional Manu
Traverse three climatic zones from rearing Andean mountains to mist-swathed cloud forest on the lower slopes en route to the bowels of the jungle in Parque Nacional Manu:, the Amazon’s most awe-inspiring adventure. Manu has long been Peru’s best-protected wilderness, brimming with opportunities to see fabled jungle creatures, such as the anaconda, jaguar, tapir and thousands of feasting macaws festooning clay licks with their colors. In this deep forest tribespeople live as they have for centuries, with barely any contact with the outside world.
The continent’s most famous pedestrian roadway, the Inca Trail: snakes 43km, up stone steps and through thick cloud forest mists. A true pilgrimage, the four- to five-day trek ends at the famous Intipunku (Sun Gate) where trekkers get their first glimpse of the extravagant ruins at Machu Picchu. While there are countless ancient roads all over Peru, the Inca Trail, with its mix of majestic views, staggering mountain passes and clusters of ruins, remains the favorite of travelers.
With ancient cobblestone streets, grandiose baroque churches and the remnants of Inca temples with centuries-old carvings, no city looms larger in Andean history than Cuzco:, a city that has been inhabited continuously since pre-Hispanic times. Once the capital of the Inca empire, tourist-thronged Cuzco also serves as the gateway to Machu Picchu. Mystic, commercial and chaotic, this unique city is still a stunner. Where else would you find ornately dressed women walking their llamas on leashes, a museum for magical plants, and the wildest nightlife in the high Andes?
Some cities are known for their parks, or even their politics, but Lima: is a city where life is often planned around the next meal. Consider it an experience worth savoring. The coastal capital is replete with options ranging from street carts to haute cuisine restaurants offering exquisite interpretations of Peru’s unique fusion cuisine. Dishes are a complex blend of Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian (both Chinese and Japanese) influences. There’s a reason that Lima's chefs and restaurants are feted in gourmet magazines, in world restaurant rankings and with international awards.
The Sacred Valley
Ragtag Andean villages, crumbling Inca military outposts and agricultural terraces used since time immemorial are linked by the Río Urubamba as it curves and widens, coursing through the Sacred Valley:. A strategic location between Cuzco and Machu Picchu makes this picturesque destination an ideal base to explore the area’s famed markets and ruins. Accommodations range from inviting inns to top resorts, and adventure options include horseback riding, rafting and treks that take you through remote weaving and agricultural villages.
Made by aliens? Laid out by prehistoric balloonists? Conceived as a giant astronomical chart? No two evaluations of southern Peru’s giant geoglyphs, communally known as the Nazca Lines:, are ever the same. The mysteries have been drawing in outsiders since the 1940s when German archaeologist Maria Reiche devoted half her life to studying them. But neither Reiche nor subsequent archaeologists have been able to fully crack the code. The lines remain unfathomed, enigmatic and loaded with historic intrigue, inspiring awe in all who pass.
Semana Santa in Ayacucho
As if a week wasn’t enough for a party, Ayacucho’s: Semana Santa lasts 10 days (from the Friday before Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday). The religious spectacle is moving, with vivid re-enactments of scenes, including the procession of Christ on a donkey through streets of flowers and palm fronds. But the aftershow parties are the highlight. Fairs, feasts and spectacular predawn fireworks take place on Easter Sunday after a Saturday during which it is believed that, since Christ died on Friday and rose again on Sunday, no sin can be committed.
With a newly installed cable car providing a spectacular entry point to this giant fortress city, Kuélap: has stepped out of the shadow of Machu Picchu and made its sophisticated pre-Inca ruins more accessible. Tucked away deep in cloud-forested territory at 3100m above the Río Urubamba near Chachapoyas, this remarkably preserved citadel is a testament to the enigmatic and strong-willed ‘People of the Clouds.’ Some 400 circular dwellings, some ornately adorned and surrounded by a towering rock wall, highlight this beautiful and mysterious stone beast in the clouds.
A collection of barren, guano-covered rocks protruding out of the Pacific Ocean, the Islas Ballestas: support an extraordinary ecosystem of birds, sea mammals and fish (most notably anchovies). They also represent one of Peru’s most successful conservation projects; guano is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture while the archipelago is protected in a national reserve. Boat trips around the island’s cliffs and arches allow close encounters with barking sea lions, huddled Humboldt penguins and tens of thousands of birds.
Rising from the sand-strewn desert like a kaleidoscopic mirage of color, old Trujillo: boasts a dazzling display of preserved splendor. The city’s historical center is chock-full of elegant churches, mansions and otherwise unspoiled colonial constructions, which are steeped today in a modern motif that lends the city a lovely, livable feel. Tack on the vicinity of impressive Chimú ruins such as Chan Chan and Moche Huacas del Sol y de la Luna and Trujillo easily trumps its northern rivals in style and grace.
Cañón del Colca
It’s deep, very deep, but the Colca Canyon: is about far more than statistics. In an area colonized by pre-Inca, Inca and Spanish civilizations, the culture here is as alluring as the endless trekking possibilities. Stretching 100km from end to end and plunging over 3400m at its deepest part, the canyon has been embellished with terraced agricultural fields, pastoral villages, Spanish colonial churches and ruins that date back to pre-Inca times. Hike it, bike it, raft it or zip-line it, just keep your eyes peeled for the emblematic condors.
Chavín de Huántar
The Unesco-recognized ruins of Chavín de Huántar: were once a righteous ceremonial center. Today the exceptional feat of engineering, dating between 1200 BC and 800 BC, features striking temple-like structures above ground and a labyrinthine complex of underground corridors, ducts and chambers that invite clambering through and exploring. Nearby, the outstanding Museo Nacional de Chavín, home to the lion’s share of the intricate and horrifyingly carved tenon heads that once embellished Chavín’s walls, helps piece together the enigma.
Want to understand what Peru’s ancient civilizations were all about? Begin your trip here. A museum stop is invaluable to put into context your further explorations at the country's incredible archaeological sites. Lima’s museums: hold millennia worth of treasures, from sublime ceramics and carved rock stelae to breathtaking textiles made centuries ago. Some of the best collections are at Museo Larco, Museo Andrés del Castillo and the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historía del Perú. Extended evening hours at Museo Larco offer an alternative to conventional nightlife.
The extraordinary Chimú capital of Chan Chan: is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest adobe city in the world. Once home to some 60,000 inhabitants and a trove of treasures, Chan Chan today is a work in progress. Tour the Palacio Nik An (also called Tschudi) complex, the only one of the 10 walled citadels within Chan Chan nearly restored to its former glory. Despite numerous weather-batterings over the years, courtesy of El Niño, Chan Chan’s ceremonial courtyards, decorative walls and labyrinthine audience rooms resonate resilience.
Surfing on the North Coast
Surfers hell-bent on an endless summer flock to Peru’s north coast for the chance to catch some of the world’s longest and most consistent breaks. The coast’s surf scene culminates in rowdy Máncora:, the country's only tried-and-true beach resort and a hot spot for the Peruvian jet set. While Máncora draws surfers and party lovers for year-round fun in the sun and bathtub-warm waters, Punta Sal just to the north is the destination of choice for serious sand worshippers.
Reserva Nacional Tambopata
Journey into the wildlife-rich Río Tambopata, a major tributary of the Río Madre de Dios, from Puerto Maldonado. Part of the draw is staying at some of the Peruvian Amazon’s best jungle lodges. An important buffer zone for wildlife, the well-protected Reserva Nacional Tambopata: offers visitors a good chance of sighting bigger rainforest animals such as the tapir and the elusive jaguar. The bird-watching won't disappoint either. Check out the chattering groups of macaws and colorful parrots feeding at clay licks.
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