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Peru is all the rage, and everyone knows it. Its history is compelling, people extremely hospitable, diversity, scenic beauty overwhelming, and food some of the best. These are just a few of the reasons why it attracts and, in the end, charms everyone who comes to visit.
Lima, its capital city, has an exceptional location, with history and a cosmopolitan spirit. Art, fashion, music, culture, and a never ending list of nighttime adventures can be found on this metropolis. Just as our food has launched a trend that is opening our eyes once again to the importance of our ancestral legacy through the use of innovative techniques that are generating a host of superior restaurants in Lima.
Four hours to the south by car takes you to the Ica region and its desert landscape, complete with sand dunes. What seems like an empty wasteland is really the site of surprising activities, like dune buggy racing of sandboarding. In this region are also the Nazca Lines; these mysterious designs were scratched onto the desert floor by an ancient civilization.
Ica is also synonymous with ecology, boasting two important natural refuges: the Paracas Natural Reserve and the Ballestas Islands. Take a ride on a motor boat to check out the stars of Peruvian coastal wildlife: sea lions and Humboldt penguins. There are also plenty of vineyards in Ica where your can see how they make Peru’s flagship liquor: pisco.
Keeping south is located the Colca Canyon and Arequipa, the called ‘White City’ because of the white volcanic stone used in building construction. Unesco even added the historic center to its World Heritage List in 2000, and there you can visit Mestizo-Baroque churches and Spanish Colony mansions. One of the more interesting landmarks is the Santa Catalina Convent, a Spanish city in miniature.
One of the most extraordinary Peruvian destinations is the Colca Canyon. It plunges to a depth of 3400 meters, and condors fly over daily, a breathtaking sight for all to see. Dotting the mountains throughout the entire area are eye catching agricultural terraces, built long before the Incas and where farmers today still cultivate quinoa, corn, barley, and wheat. Likewise, the Colca River and Canyon offer plenty of opportunities to raft, mountain bike, and trek.Turning to the east is Cuzco, a land of contrasts. Lofty snow-capped mountains enclose fertile valleys that descend towards the warm lands of the rainforest’s outer edge, where everything is covered by a dense layer of vegetation. It was here where the Incas, fascinated by the land, established the capital of their empire and built the Machu Picchu citadel.
The archeological complex sits on a saddle between two mountains, and is widely recognized as a perfect example of the integration of architecture into the landscape. Although relatively small, this tropical mountain ecosystem consists of multiple microclimates and is home to an astonishingly rich wildlife. With this in mind, when in 1981 Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary, the 32,592 hectares that surround it were also included to create an ecological buffer zone. Thus, the sanctuary was included in Unesco’s World Heritage list in 1983 as a mixed site, consisting of both cultural and natural heritage.
But if you are interested on history, the north coast is an excellent option. Ten thousand years of history can be seen in the city of Caral, the oldest in the Americas. And the so called Moche Route, that covers the regions of La Libertad and Lambayeque, surprise the visitors.
In Trujillo is located Chan Chan, the largest city of clay in pre-Columbian America. Huaca of the Moon is on the countryside, and was the land where the Mochica culture chose to build up its most important ceremonial centers. The region of Lambayeque hosts one of the most impressive exhibits in Peru: the royal tomb of the Lord of Sipan, one of the greatest warlords of the fourth century AD. He was buried with his head pointing south, his nose and ears covered with gold relics and his feet clad in silver. To accompany him, his subjects sacrificed women, children and llamas, while the finest warriors of the era accompanied their overlord on his voyage to the Afterlife.
Comisión de Promoción del Perú para la Exportación y el Turismo - PROMPERUCalle Uno Oeste 50 - Piso 13 - MinceturSan Isidro, Lima 27, Perú011 51-1 616-7300[email protected]www.promperu.gob.pewww.peru.travel