Unique experiences in Peru beyond Machu Picchu

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Updated: July 3, 2017 10:38:30 AM

From the snow-capped mountains in the Andean highlands, across the Pacific coastline, and the history of the Incan civilisation, Peru showcases geographic and cultural diversity

Amazon cruises offer an opportunity to visit native communities and see exotic Amazonian flora and fauna

Thousands of tourists visit Peru for a peek of its archaeological star attraction Machu Picchu, but Peru is also a country replete with hidden treasures. One can look past the sight of vistas atop the mountain peaks of one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, and discover more. From the snow-capped mountains in the Andean highlands, across the Pacific coastline, and the history of the Incan civilisation, Peru showcases geographic and cultural diversity. Visitors can choose between a walk through the country’s natural reserves and dense forests, a trek across its peaks and giant sand dunes, a stroll across its beaches, or a peek into the lives of the Incas. Below are a few of the experiences one can have in Peru.

Visit Lima, the modern Peru

Peru’s capital city is on the Pacific coast, where one can enjoy the richness of the sea all year long. It features modern restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment venues along with Colonial neighbourhoods and historical museums to discover the traditional side of the city, spending nights full of art, music and fun in bohemian districts.

Lima and the art of good eating

Peru’s capital is also the culinary capital of the Americas. Lima has turned into a caldron of flavours due to the variety and wealth of ingredients from the coast, highlands, and rainforest; the blending of ancient and modern cooking techniques; and the fusion of influences from different cultures like the Chinese, the Japanese, the Afro-Peruvian, and the European one resulting in a culinary melting pot that is now an important part of the Peruvian identity. The “trio de cebiches”, a fish and seafood based dish, is one of the popular delicacies offered in Lima. Visitors may also watch the dance of the Peruvian paso horse on the outskirts of Lima at the haciendas and fields of the Lurin Valley. This breed of horse with unique characteristics stands out for it particular gait which looks more like a dance step than a horse trot.

Rafting in the Urubamba River, Cusco

This sacred river of the Incas features short rapids of low technical difficulty as well as thundering rapids of greater difficulty and risk.

Tambopata National Reserve in Madre de Dios

This experience is a unique one, starting from the journey from Lima to Puerto Maldonado by air and then continuing the journey by boat through the Amazonian rivers.

Mountain climbing in the Cordillera Blanca in Ancash

This mountain range is home to the highest mountain in Peru: Mount Huascaran (22205 ft). The Huascaran National Park protects the region’s flora and fauna as well as the scenic beauty. The place is ideal for expeditions and trekking.

Tombs, pyramids and palaces in Lambayeque and La Libertad

Chan Chan is the largest pre-Hispanic mud city and the former capital of the Chimu culture (850-1470 AD). This sacred site as well as other huacas (sacred structures) and temples such as the archaeological complex El Brujo in Magdalena de Cao, are accessible from the city of Trujillo in La Libertad. The Museum Royal Tombs of Sipan, located in Chiclayo (Lambayeque), displays the gold and silver belongings of a Moche dignitaries (100 – 800 AD) found in a burial site, the start attraction being the tomb of Lord of Sipan; and in Batan Grande is the tomb of Senor de Sican (Lord of Sican) together with group of adobe pyramids from the Lambayeque culture (750 – 1400 AD).

Colca Valley in Arequipa

This is a good spot for watching the condor soar among mountains, which are up to 16,400 ft high, and the sheer cliffs of the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest at 13, 648 ft.

Northern beaches of Tumbes and Piura

It is summer all year long on Peru’s northern coastline where one can always enjoy the beaches and its famous cuisine. It is a perfect place for watching humpback whales as they migrate to Antarctica from August to October.

Manu National Park in Madre de Dios

It is one of the most important protected area in the country where an enormous variety of bird, mammal, fish, insect, reptile and plant species thrive, many of them endemic.

The Amazon River in Loreto

It is possible to start your trip in Iquitos, sailing down the Amazon River, which originates in Peru, towards the national reserve, an area featuring a tropical rainforest home to a rich flora and fauna which include pink dolphins that are found only in these waters.

Paracas National Reserve and the Ica Desert in Ica

The reserve and the neighbouring Ballestas Islands are home to sea lions, Humboldt penguins, dolphins, flamingos, and other birds. Farther south, you enter into a desert of amazing sand dunes and the Huacachina Oasis.

Explore Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

This is the dream of anyone who loves nature and biodiversity. Cruise down the river and experience “The Jungle of Mirrors” or discover the almost 527 bird species, 102 mammal species, 69 reptile species, 58 amphibian species, 269 fish species, and 1,025 plant species that inhabit the area. Lodges and luxury cruises offer adventures which include jungle treks in the Amazon rainforest, bird-watching, scientific excursions, canoe rides, Pink River dolphin watching, and even piranha fishing excursions. Drinking a glass of champagne in a Bedouin tent in the midst of the Ica desert or enjoying a sunny afternoon in a private country house with access to a spa and thermal waters in a valley in Arequipa are also some of the experiences one can enjoy.

Luxury Amazon cruises

This is a unique opportunity to visit native communities and see exotic Amazonian flora and fauna, all in the comfort of a five-star trip with specialised guides and gourmet food.

Apart from these, Peru several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Machu Picchu, the historic centres of Lima and Arequipa City, and Manu National Park, which is one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, home to 1,000 bird species, over 200 species of mammals (100 of which are bats), and over 15,000 species of flowering plants.

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