Peru is a fascinating land of contrasts, graced with culture that ranges from pre-Hispanic to Spanish colonial to international, and natural beauty that includes soaring mountains, lush valleys, Amazon jungle and sun-soaked coastline. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the wonders of Incan culture at Machu Picchu, take a sail on the world’s highest navigable lake and treat yourself to delectably sophisticated cuisine that incorporates elements from around Peru and around the world.
Get to Know the Inca Culture
No first-time Peru vacation is complete without a visit to the “Lost City of the Incas” — Machu Picchu. One of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this legendary 15h-century Inca citadel is a true bucket-list destination, and with good reason: the first time you see these ruins, set dramatically on a mountain range, it just might take your breath away.
Fall in Love with Lima
Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, the capital city of Lima is an intoxicating blend of colonial architecture, modern-day sophistication, great food and rich culture. The historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to a soaring, 16th-century cathedral as well as the mysterious, bone-filled catcacombs of the San Francisco monastery. Nearby, the ancient Huaca Pucllana archeological site offers a glimpse at the region’s pre-Hispanic past. Another must-see: Museo Larco, a museum with exhibits representing thousands of years of pre-Columbian history.
Savor the Flavors
Peru has become a culinary hotspot in recent years, as top Peruvian chefs like Gastón Acurio have taken their talents around the world. But there’s obviously no better place to sample Peruvian culinary creativity than in Peru. Whether it’s dishes with pre-Hispanic, European, African or Asian roots — or perhaps a pisco sour, the nation’s most famous cocktail — Peru knows how to satisfy the taste buds.
Take in the Natural Beauty
Your camera won’t get much rest when you’re on a Peru tour. Scenic vistas and spectacular landscapes grace every turn. Among the top can’t-miss sites are Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, where unique flora and fauna is complemented by interaction with local communities practicing age-old traditions. The historic city of Arequipa, meanwhile, three giant volcanoes provide a dramatic backdrop for lovely Spanish colonial churches and homes. About 160 miles northwest of Arequipa lies the Colca Canyon, a postcard-perfect Andean valley with pre-Incan stepped terraces and colonial towns.
Go off the Beaten Path, and Make a Difference
PromPeru, the nation’s tourism board, and Coddiwomple Journeys are among the organizations committed to sustainable tourism, which aims to protect the natural environment, sites and communities around Peru. Coddiwomple, for one, can help you plan a customized Peru tour with responsible practices that respect Peru’s natural and cultural treasures. And, rather than just going to the big, bucket-list destinations, you can also arrange memorable diversions to lesser-known regions that aren’t as strained with crowds of tourists. Whether it’s exploring the Peruvian Amazon, interacting with local communities in the highlands or even volunteering to aid local communities, Coddiwomple Journeys is the connection you need to make dreams come true.