Peru is a coastal country in the Northwest of South America, sharing borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile. When most people hear Peru, they immediately think of Machu Picchu, and understandably so! This “New” Wonder of the World is the main draw to Peru for most tourists, but visitors will be delighted to find how much more this fascinating country has to offer.
Your first stop in Peru will most likely be the capital city of Lima, a bustling metropolitan hub which lies on the Pacific Ocean. Though most visits begin out of necessity as most flights connect through Lima, this city is well worth exploring in its own right, and a few day stopover is highly recommended. In Lima you will find an abundance of museums and historical sites as well as vibrant neighborhoods such as Miraflores, where shopping, nightlife, and world class dining (local, international, and delightful fusions of the two) abound.
Of course, your first trip to Peru will likely be dominated by the Sacred Valley. You will need to take a few days to acclimate to the high altitude of the Andes Mountains in Cusco, the historical capital city of the Incan Empire. Thanks to the fertility of this valley along the Urubamba River, several culturally and historically significant towns offer opportunities to interact with local craftspeople, get to know unique cultures, and explore ancient archeological sites. Of the most notable are Ollantaytambo with its Incan ruins and Pisac with its famous market. Finally, your time in the Sacred Valley will culminate in a visit to the iconic citadel at Machu Picchu.
Not many people think of the Amazon Rainforest as a Peruvian destination, but this jungle actually covers over half of the country. The best way to experience this incredibly vast ecosystem is by boat along the Amazon River. On the Peruvian side, you will embark from the northern city of Iquitos. Luxurious boutique sailing options offer an intimate experience while excursions into the rainforest make for the adventure of a lifetime.
Alternatively if you wish to squeeze in a visit to the Amazon with an itinerary focused on Machu Picchu and Cusco, the Southern Amazonian gateway of Puerto Maldonado offers this opportunity.
Southern Peru is also home to the legendary Lake Titicaca, shared with its neighbor Bolivia to the East. As one of the largest lakes in South America, Lake Titicaca is home to an incredible amount of biodiversity, providing an aquatic haven for rare species of birds, amphibians, and fish. Lake Titicaca is also home to many unique communities of people such as the Uros, who still live on floating islands made of reeds. This is an extremely unique place, as you will undoubtedly learn from the many myths and legends shared by local peoples.
Peru is undoubtedly a very special destination, where modern life is intertwined with ancient history and local legends. From amazing food, lively cities, and beaches to ancient ruins, towering mountains, and lush rainforests, however you choose to spend your time in Peru will have you daydreaming of your next visit.