Four Top Destinations
Peru is an extremely beautiful country with much diversity in both its culture and landscape. From the lush Amazon jungle in the northeast to the beach parties of Mancora to the high-flying Andean city of Cusco, there is much to see in this deceptively large country. Here are 4 places to visit in Peru.
A visit to Peru will likely take you to Lima, particularly if you are taking an international flight to the country. Most visitors spend as little time as possible in this sprawling Latin American metropolis of eight million people and instead quickly make a retreat to the mountains to the east or to the beach resorts of the north. However, Lima also has various sites of its own to offer such as the ancient pre-Incan ruins, Huaca Pucllana. It is also home to numerous museums, colourful parks and imposing churches. The most popular area of the city is the district of Miraflores, though San Isidro and Barranco are also pleasant districts and heavily frequented by tourists.
With a population of almost a million, Arequipa is Peru’s second-largest city and a major commercial centre. It is also a historic city boasting some of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the county. The city was founded in 1540 by Francisco Pizarro. It does not have any pre-Columbian history and is instead entirely a Spanish colonial city. Arequipa boasts a plethora of spectacular churches and monasteries. The Santa Catalina Convent in particular is not to be missed. For nature lovers, Arequipa offers a spectacular backdrop of towering volcanoes such as Mount Misti and, a few hours away by bus, is the Colca Canyon, the second-deepest canyon in the world.
Arguably the prettiest city of Peru, Cusco is located high up in the Andes. At an altitude of 3,400 metres, you will likely experience some altitude sickness in your first day or two here, so you’ll probably want to take it easy until you acclimatize. Although Cusco, a city of 358,000, is also home to many relics of pre-Columbian culture, it also boasts many examples of fine Spanish colonial architecture, particular in the areas around the Plaza de Armas and Plaza de San Francisco. There are many daytrips to do as well. Be sure to visit the ruins of Saksaywaman, the walled complex and temple constructed by the Killke people almost one-thousand years ago.
Machu Picchu is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds upon any mention of Peru. These spectacular Incan ruins perched dramatically atop a small plateau and surrounded by soaring mountains make up one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. You can easily spend many hours looking around the ruins so be sure to get there not long after dawn. The town of Aguascalientes, six kilometres from the ruins, is where most people stay unless they come to Machu Picchu from the other side after the four-day Inca Trail hike. The only other ways to get there are by taking the train or taking a bus to the end of the road at the hydroelectric dam and walking along the train tracks for three to four hours.
By Charles Jackson