When we say “Peru”, we primarily mean Machu Picchu. And this is true: the most visited attraction in South America attracts about 1.5 million tourists annually. However, Peru has not limited to this mysterious city of the Incas: the country has something to surprise! We’ve rounded up 11 stunning locations that will make you see Peru in a different way and be amazed throughout your journey. Lima with a variety of museums and street art, the desert of the Paracas National Park, and the soaring condors of the Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and Rainbow mountains, salt marshes, and glaciers, colonial cities, and ancient Inca structures – make up a rich route around the country.
Lima: the Pacific Ocean, glass skyscrapers, street art, and colonial buildings
Typically, a trip to Peru starts from its capital, Lima. The nearly 8 million cities will amaze you right from the start with a sharp transition from disadvantaged and even intimidating areas to respectable, expensive, and safer places. It is best to stay in areas called Mira Flores or Barranco. Business and tourist life is concentrated here: banks, offices of large companies, shopping centers, and hotels for any budget. You can get to your hotel from the airport by taxi for about $ 20 (choose an official carrier right in the arrivals hall) or by a large comfortable bus with wi-fi, which makes several stops in the city, for $ 8.
Many travelers do not stay in Lima: they either go straight ahead on their route or leave one day for acclimatization. We advise you to book at least a couple of days for the city: you will find something to do with yourself! First, there is a strikingly beautiful Pacific Ocean promenade with a length of almost ten kilometers. It is located on a hill overlooking the ocean. Looking closely, you can see surfers for whom even a 16-degree water temperature is not an obstacle. You can ride a bike along the embankment, renting it right there ($ 6 per hour), and if you want more vivid emotions, you can fly over the Pacific Ocean on a paraglide ($ 50-70).
Secondly, Lima has interesting museums: we recommend Larco with a collection of archaeological finds from the pre-Columbian era and gold Museum (entrance to both is $ 9). If you live in Mira Flores, you can reach them by taxi: ask to call your host’s car, usually, they will be happy to help, or use an Uber. The trip will take about 20 minutes and will cost about $ 6.
Third, you can appreciate the colonial Lima in the main square, Plaza de Armas (“Arms Square” in Spanish). Caution: Pickpockets in the center of Lima are a frequent occurrence, despite the constant presence of the police. The easiest way to get to the square is also by taxi: from Mira Flores, the road will take about 30 minutes and cost $ 5-6.
Paracas National Park: Desert, Ocean, and Galapagos for the Poor
The UNESCO-listed Paracas National Park is 250 km from Lima. You will remember this place for its landscapes: the pink sands of the lifeless desert lead directly to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The easiest way to get here is from Lima by bus: the journey will take 4-5 hours and will cost about $ 20. There is a place to
Stay in the town of the same name: there are a lot of hotels for every taste and budget. We advise you to stay in Paracas for at least two days: devote the first one to a huge park (its area is 335 thousand square kilometers!), and in the morning of the second, go on an excursion to the Ballestas Islands.
To ride around the park, you can take a guided tour at one of the Paracas travel agencies. The tourist bus usually leaves at 11-11: 30 and returns to the city by 16:00. The cost of such a trip is about $ 10. Along the way, you will find stops in the most photogenic and memorable places in the park (for example, on the red beach or the observation deck at the very top of the hill) and the story that once upon a time there was an ocean in the desert.
If you don’t like to depend on a guide, there are other options for visiting the park: you can take a taxi for $ 20 (a good option for a company), or you can ride a bike for $ 6 (although this type of transport is suitable for those who are in good shape: prepare for at least 30 kilometers). In any case, you will have to pay $ 7 for a general ticket, which will take you both to the park itself and to the islands.
A more realistic, but no less emotional adventure will be a trip to the Ballestas Islands. They are also called “Galapagos for the Poor” because of the similarity of the fauna and the relatively low cost of the excursion. Boats depart from the pier daily at 8:00 am and 10:00 am. You can buy a ticket both at the hotel and at a travel agency for $ 6. The trip lasts two hours.
Tourists are not allowed to land on the islands themselves: boats sail from one island to another, describing circles around them, sometimes stopping near fur seals resting on the rocks warmed by the sun. In general, about 200 species of birds live on the islands: gulls, pelicans, albatrosses, gannets, and even penguins – a real bird paradise! If you are lucky, you will see dolphins and swimming fur seals.
Flight of the Condors of Colca Canyon
The city of Arequipa is a convenient place to travel to the Colca Canyon, the second largest in the world (the first, I must say, is also located in Peru), where condors fly. It is more convenient to get to the city by bus from Puno ($ 20) or by plane from Lima ($ 40) – depending on what route you have around the country.
Tours to the Colca Canyon leave daily – you will be picked up directly from the hotel at about three in the morning since the road will take 4-5 hours, and will be returned at 18-19 pm. It is best to buy a tour in the city center – travel agencies are located literally at every corner, prices are approximately the same for everyone (about $ 12). As a rule, this includes the accompaniment of a Spanish and English-speaking guide, breakfast, stops at several attractions. However, for travel to the canyon itself, you will have to pay a tourist tax of $ 20 – this money will be taken from you immediately before entering the territory.
The main point of attraction is the observation deck Mirador Cruz del Condor where in the morning, at a strictly defined time, condors soar. It is believed that it is in this place that air flows that are attractive to them are formed. Birds spread their wings, “lie down” in the air, and soar – an incredible sight that allows you to admire the beauty and majesty of these birds.
Other picturesque places of the canyon are a valley strewn with agricultural Inca terraces, and another observation deck at an altitude of five thousand meters, from where you can see seven volcanoes (which, by the way, are active and can erupt right before your eyes). Appreciate the severity of the landscape: lifeless lava and not a single plant.
Saint Catalina Monastery: Feel Like Morocco
Stay one more day in Arequipa and visit the Convent of Saint Catalina. Inside, there are real streets painted in rich blue and orange colors. You don’t expect to see such a riot of flowers behind the gray walls!
Admission for adults costs $ 12.5. Get ready to devote at least two hours to the museum. There is something to see here: small cells, kitchens, laundries, a church, an art gallery, expositions with personal belongings of novices, ancient books, clothes. The monastery itself is still functioning, but the ancient part of it has been made a museum, and you will not meet nuns. Earlier, it was considered prestigious to get into this monastery, many noble families gave their daughters here, paying for their maintenance, which, I must say, was very Spartan. Today the museum is a city within a city, with its squares, fountains, and parks.
Lake Titicaca in Peru
Admit it, was it fun for you at school in geography class when you were told about Lake Titicaca – the world’s largest alpine lake on the border of Peru and Bolivia? Some people still laugh. Since you’re in there, it’s time to go and see it with your own eyes!
The best way to do this is from the city of Puno, which is located right by the lake. You can get here by bus either from Cusco or from Arequipa – tickets cost about $ 20. Stay for one or two nights: a tour of Titicaca will take a whole day. It can be bought at the hotel for $ 20.
A lake tour is not just an hour-long speedboat ride. At least two stops await you: the first is on one of the floating islands of Uros. The Indians of this tribe created more than 40 islands from the reed growing on the lake with their own hands. The houses of local residents are also made of it. They will show you exactly how the island was built, tell you about housekeeping. The second stop is Taquile Island, whose inhabitants cherish the ancient traditions of their ancestors – the production of fabrics and knitting.
The ancient capital of the Incas, Cuzco is the starting point for traveling to Machu Picchu. Tourists stay here for a few days and it’s worth it. Let’s talk about the city itself. The easiest way to get here is from Lima by plane – about two hours on the way and $ 150. And if you are coming from Puno, then it is better to take a ticket for a tourist bus for $ 40: it travels all day but stops at museums and at observation decks along the way, plus lunch is included.
UNESCO inscribed Cuzco on the World Heritage List. Walking along its picturesque streets, you will understand why: many buildings were built by the Spaniards right on the foundations of the Inca structures, and you seem to be in the city of the Incas and in Spain at the same time. Visit the local market, appreciate the scale of corn production (50 types of which are grown in ), Have a cup of hot chocolate in one of the cafes, go to the souvenir shop and buy a sweater made of alpaca or llama wool.
If you want to be surprised even more – visit the Sacsayhuaman complex, the military, and the religious center of the Inca empire. Cusco was built in the form of a silhouette of a puma, and Sacsayhuaman served as a head and teeth. For many years it was believed that there was a military fortification here.
But modern researchers adhere to the version that it was a residential area with rich noble houses, temples, and squares where religious ceremonies were held. You will definitely be amazed by the 6-9 meters high walls, consisting of hefty stone blocks perfectly fitted to each other! About 20,000 people were involved in the construction of this architectural complex.
You can get to Sacsayhuaman on foot (from the center it takes about 30 minutes, but uphill) or by taxi for $ 2-4. If this is the first, but not the last architectural museum that you visit in Peru, it is better to buy a tourist ticket for $ 21. It entitles you to visit ten architectural museums in the vicinity of Cusco for ten days. The cost of a single ticket will pay off if you visit at least three of them.
Pisak: a worthy competitor to Machu Picchu
When staying in Cusco, it is easiest to organize day trips around the surrounding area. One of the places worth your attention is the Pisak complex. You can get to it by minibus (which locals call “collective”), which departs from Puputi street, next to Universidad Alas Peruanas. The fare is $ 3. You will arrive at the center of the modern city of Pisak. The ancient city itself is located on the mountain.
You have two options: either take a taxi for $ 9 to the top of the mountain and go down to the city, or climb the ruins up the mountain, and from there go down either by the same taxi (don’t forget to bargain, then you can go down for $ 5) or on foot. Entrance – with a tourist ticket.
Expect to spend at least three hours visiting the ruins, especially if you decide to climb the mountain on foot. Be warned: there will be many steps. But you will get stunning views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Andes! The complex includes several plots: huge agricultural terraces for growing potatoes and corn, residential buildings, a temple of the sun, a fortress at the top, a cemetery.
This is a traditional Inca complex with traditional masonry. There are many fewer tourists here than in Machu Picchu, but the mountains around and the number of ancient buildings can compete with the mysterious city.
The multicolored Andes
If you get tired of ruins and archaeological excavations, it’s time to check out the natural attractions, which the country is also rich in. Probably one of the most visited local iridescent mountains, situated at an altitude of five thousand meters.
The multi-colored mountains were discovered not so long ago: the peaks became visible due to the melting of snows, and the colored layers were formed many years ago due to climatic conditions, groundwater, and the minerals they contain.
Thousands of travelers come here every day to see unique places. Although the road is not the easiest: if you choose a ready-made tour (you can buy in Cusco at any of the travel agencies for $ 30-40), you will be picked up from your hotel at three in the morning.
By seven or eight o’clock you will arrive at the beginning of the route, and you will need to walk a couple of hours to reach the mountains themselves, gaining altitude. We advise you to grab coca leaves or tea from them. As a rule, the guide takes oxygen cylinders with him – for those who feel really bad. But when you get to the colored peaks (especially if you are lucky with the weather), you will understand that the path has not been done in vain – the feeling of being on another planet and childish joy from the beauty around.
Humantay Lagoon Lake: alpine lake, glacier, and wind
A popular one-day tourist route in the vicinity of Cusco is trekking to the Umantai lagoon. It is a high-mountainous (4800 meters) lake surrounded by the Andes, at the foot of a snowy peak. The snow melts, and the crystal clear waterfalls into a dazzling turquoise lake. Get ready for a difficult trek: it will take about an hour and a half uphill to reach the lake, but, as usual, the goal justifies the energy expended, and you will retain the emotions from the views for a long time.
As in the case of the Rainbow Mountains, a guided tour can be bought in Cusco – the price is about $ 30-40. You will have to pay separately $ 3 for entrance.
Inca Agricultural Academy and Salt Flats
Two sights that you can easily pack in one day and explore on your own are the Moraya Terraces and the Salineras Salt Flats.
The Moraya Terraces are also called the Agricultural Academy of the Incas: here you will see several terraces, different in size and depth. On the largest of them, the difference between the upper and lower levels reaches 15 degrees! The Incas are said to have experimented with growing cereals at different levels of the terraces. The entrance to Moray is with a single tourist ticket.
Not far from it there is an unusual place – the Solineras salt marsh. Salt has been mined here since the Inca times to this day: on the slope of the mountain, “trays” are carved in which the water flowing from the source at the top is collected. The water evaporates in the sun, and the salt remains in the baths – it is carefully collected and sold right there as table salt and as bath salt with added flavorings. The entrance to the salt marsh will cost $ 4.
Getting to these places is quite simple: if you are traveling with a company, it is better to take a taxi for the whole day ($ 30-40), if you are traveling alone, go collectively to the city of Urubamba ($ 0.5 from Ollanta and $ 2 from Cusco), there, change to a bus or collectively to Maras (that’s another $ 2). Here the interesting thing begins: you will be dropped off at the turn in Maras, where the taxi drivers are already waiting.
If you are with a company, it is easier and cheaper to split the cost of the trip (the total cost is about $ 17), or you are lucky and a private minibus will pass, which will take you to Moray and Soleneras and return you back – for $ 4.
Ollantaytambo: an ancient Inca town on the way to Machu Picchu
If you go to Machu Picchu by train, you will surely hear about a small town with a difficult to pronounce name along the way – Ollantaytambo. And if you also decide to save a little on travel, then your journey to the mysterious city begins in this place: after all, a train ticket from Ollanta, as the locals call it, is much cheaper than from Cusco. We advise you to stay here a little longer to slowly explore several unusual points.
Ollantaytambo is a small but cozy city in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, lost between the Andes at an altitude of 2,700 meters. It is not difficult to get here: there are minibuses from Cusco. They make a stop at the bus station in the town of Urubamba, where any passenger or driver will tell you how to find a minibus to Ollanta. Travel time will be about an hour, and the fare is $ 3.
The temple complex is the main attraction of Ollanta. Since the city is small, it will be easy for you to find it: walk from the main square in five minutes. It is believed that the complex remained unfinished due to an attack by the Spaniards, who blocked local access to water, and they had to surrender. Entrance – with a previously purchased tourist ticket.
It will take you two to three hours to walk around the entire complex. What will you see? The famous Inca masonry, terraces, the Temple of the Sun – an unfinished building with six monolithic pink blocks. At the top of the hill, you can also see the Temple of Ten Niches, named after the number of trapezoidal recesses in its back wall, the Governor’s Hall, the Silver Temple of the Moon, and the Sunstone, designed to observe the luminary.
On the opposite mountain from the temple complex, there are other ruins – a granary and a guard building. The entrance to them is free, but the ascent is sharp and unequipped: in some places, there is not even a railing. Stone steps lead in two directions: to the right – what is left of the former guard buildings, to the left – grain storage? Put on comfortable shoes, stock up on water or coca tea – and go! The ascent will take 20-30 minutes.
The granaries are better preserved than the sentry: these are houses without a roof and with windows on a steep cliff. It is always windy and cool upstairs – this allowed the Incas to keep the grain in its best condition and not worry about its condition. There are not very many tourists here – perhaps you will meet a couple or two, but they will in no way prevent you from completely immersing yourself in your thoughts. From here a good view of Ollanta and the temple complex opens up.
A little further from the granaries there is one mysterious place: a man’s face carved into the rock. They say that this is the face of Viracocha himself – the main deity of the Incas. The stern face is visible only from the temple complex, so when you go up to the terraces, look straight ahead. Rumor has it that on June 21, the day of the winter (according to the Peruvian calendar) solstice, exactly at 12:00 the sun will “hit” Viracocha in the eye with its ray, and the main Inca god will either smile or wink. Let’s be honest: nothing like this will happen. But maybe you will be lucky enough to see the smile of God?
The history of the country consists of two stages of cultural development: the first is associated with the tribes of people who came to the Andes about 11,000 years ago and created one of the largest states on Earth by the 15th century, the second begins with the arrival of Europeans in South America, who conquered the ancient empire, and continues until the present time.
Historians believe that the first people appeared here around the 15th century BC. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in caves. In Huaca Prieta (en: Huaca Prieta ) stone tools, animal bones, plant remains date back at least 15 thousand years ago.
In the following centuries BC, the Peruvian land was inhabited by peoples who created powerful civilizations and built architectural monuments that have survived to this day.
The most developed cultures on the territory of present-day there were: the Chavin culture in the Callejón de Huaylas region, flourishing in 800-300 BC. e. Nazca and Paracas in the southern Peruvian coast (c. 200-500 AD); Mochica and Chimu in the north (about 300-1400 AD), Tiahuanaco on the shores of Lake Titicaca (flourishing in the 11th century). In the XII century A.D. e. the Inca tribe settled in the Cuzco region.
Over the next centuries, the Incas sequentially conquered neighboring tribes, and by the 15th century they owned the lands from modern southern Colombia to central Chile, which made up the Tahuantinsuyu Empire, which means “four connected sides of the world”.
In 1956, due to numerous protests, free elections were held, in which, with the support of the apristes, M. Prado was again elected president. Soon the leader of the Apristos, Aia de la Torre, returned to his homeland after six years of exile. Trade unions were rebuilt and the public works program expanded. The increase in government spending has led to inflation. In 1959, Pedro Beltran was appointed Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Within three years, he stabilized the situation in the economy.
In the 1962 elections, none of the contenders received the required number of votes, therefore, according to the constitution, members of the elected Congress had to elect a president. To prevent Ayia de la Torre from running for vice president and Audria for president, the military who supported Fernando Belaunde Terry’s candidacy staged a coup d’état on July 18, 1962. An attempt by a group of left-wing Peruvians (mostly educated in Cuba) in the spring of 1963 to invade Peru from neighboring Bolivia with the support of the Bolivian communists ended in failure: the radicals were defeated at the border
In order not to spoil the authority of Peru among other countries, the junta promised to hold new elections, which took place on July 19, 1963. Belaunde won the election with 39% of the vote. He was supported by the Popular Action Party, Christian Democrats, and Communists. Constitutional rule was restored and Belaunde, together with his supporters, began to carry out new reforms. New government programs have led to budget depletion and rapid inflation. From September 1967 to October 1968, the cabinet changed 4 times. The country was in crisis.
Borders and Dimensions
The area of Peru is 1,285,220 km². The country is bordered by Ecuador to the northwest, Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia, and Chile to the southeast. The Pacific Ocean. In the west,
The total length of the border is 5536 km (the length of the borders with Bolivia – 900 km, with Brazil – 1560 km, with Chile – 160 km, with Colombia – 1496 km, with Ecuador – 1420 km).Coastline length: 2,414 km.
Climate of Peru
In the west of Peru, a tropical desert type of climate prevails, in the east it is subequatorial, and in the mountains the climate depends on the altitude of the area.
The cold Peruvian Current runs along the western shores of the country, which is why the climate on the coast is arid. In fact, the coastal plain is the northern extension of the Chilean Atacama Desert. The driest and hottest time is from December to April.
At this time, precipitation may not be observed at all. Daytime temperatures in February range from 26 degrees in the south to 36 degrees in the north. At night the air cools down to +20 degrees in the south and +24 degrees in the north. In winter (from June to August), daytime air temperatures are equal to +19 degrees and +28 degrees, respectively, and at night – 13 degrees and 17 degrees.
Further east in mountainous areas the temperature decreases. At altitudes of more than 4000 m, frosts can be observed even in summer at night. In summer, the average daytime temperatures in the main cities located in the Sierra are 19…21 degrees Celsius, at night – 4…6 degrees Celsius. In the period from June to August, about 16-18 degrees of heat are observed during the day, and from −6 to −2 degrees at night. In the Andes, from 700 mm of precipitation per year falls on the western slopes to 2000 mm of precipitation on the eastern. The dry season lasts here from April to October.
The jungle is hot and humid. In summer, daytime temperatures reach 34 degrees Celsius, nighttime temperatures drop to +24 degrees. In winter, during the day, the air warms up to +30 degrees, and at night it cools down to 20 degrees. The average annual rainfall in tropical forests is 3800 mm, the rainy season lasts from November to March.
The fauna includes over 500, species of mammals, over 420 species of reptiles, about 540 species of amphibians, over 1000 species of freshwater fish
Birds of Peru have 1888 species, of which 131 are endemic, 88 are endangered and 3 are imported. Peru is the second country with the largest number of bird species, after Colombia, representing 20% of the total number of species in the world.
- Capital: Lima
- Population: 31.99 million (2018) according to World Bank
- Currency: Sol
- Biggest cities: Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo
- State religion: the secular
- Form of government: Presidential Republic
- Date of independence: 28 on July 1821 the
- President of Congress: Manuel Merino de Lam.
- .Established: September 20, 1822;