Here are the top six places you shouldn't miss when you go to Peru.
Cusco, Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley
Of all the places to visit in Peru, Machu Picchu is the most popular. In fact, this is the most frequently visited tourist attraction in all of South America, and the site was even recently designated one of the worldâ€™s new seven wonders. A journey to Machu Picchu starts in the former seat of the Inca Empire, Cusco, with its historical buildings, before heading through the geographically and archeologically rich Sacred Valley. Don't miss a hike on the Inca Trail or one of its alternatives.
Lake Titicaca is the worldâ€™s highest navigable lake at 3,810 meters (12,500 ft), and one of the largest at 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) in volume. Its sapphire-blue waters are known as the birthplace of the Inca gods, and are home to pre-Inca civilizations-such as the Aymaras living on the man-made Uros Islets-that have changed little over the millenniums.
The Nasca Lines were lost to the world until, in 1921, they surprised pilots flying over this flat and desolate region of southern Peru. They looked down and saw lines and carvings extending as wide as 65 kilometers (40 mi), featuring such forms as a monkey, a spider, a pelican, hummingbirds, a whale, a dog and perhaps even an astronaut â€“or space alien. Archeologists are still debating the what, how and why of these fascinating tokens of a lost civilization.
Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
Arequipa and the Colca Canyon represent the urban and rural southern Peru at its most intoxicating. Arequipa is the â€śwhite city,â€ť named because so much of its extensive and exquisite architecture has been carved out of ashen volcanic rock. The pristine Colca Canyon offers opportunities for whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, encounters with communities unchanged by colonization and even dinosaur tracks.
Perched at 3,028 meters (9,934 ft), Huaraz has always been a mecca and magnet for rogue adventurers ready to risk everything scaling a rock or a glacier. Forget about Huaraz as a city, still barely recovered from a devastating earthquake over 30 years ago. This area, made famous by the film Touching the Void, offers some of the greatest opportunities for mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, birdwatching, paragliding, skiing and spectacular sightseeing
For many, Iquitos is the gateway to paradise. From monkeys to macaws, herons to hawks, and turtles to toucans, flora and fauna overwhelm the visitor. Chartered boats provide the opportunity to see many of these creatures, as well as the eye-opening foliage and flowers that serves as their home. Iquitos is home to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, home to 100 species of mammals, 500 species of birds and 250 species of fish. There are also local museums and opportunities for shopping.
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Regional Summaries, Responsible Tourism in Peru, Lori Berenson: An American Behind Peruvian Bars, Teaching English In Peru, Politics in Peru, Studying Quechua in Peru, Basic Facts, When To Go, Safety and Organized Tours.