With scenery ranging from the magnificent snow-capped mountains of the Andes, deserts that look like they’ve been stolen from Africa and the lush jungles typical of South America.
Home to the once mighty Inca Empire, Peru is one of the most fascinating and diverse countries in all of South America. With scenery ranging from the magnificent snow-capped mountains of the Andes, deserts that look like they’ve been stolen from Africa and the lush jungles typical of South America, Peru’s diversity ensures its ability to enthral all types of travellers. Its mix of distinct cultures reflects is geography and offers a different experience from north to south, east to west.
Visit the quaint town of Ollantaytambo, dominated by two massive Inca ruins, its narrow cobblestone streets have been inhabited since the 13th century. Take a scenic train journey from there to the town of Aguas Calientes, a town that exists purely, it seems, to cater for the mass of tourists that use it as a base for visiting Machu Picchu.
Not to be forgotten is South America's largest lake, Lake Titicaca. As well as tours from Bolivia, there are some great boat tours that can be made from Puno, taking in the colourful islands and “floating” Uros Islands – made entirely out of buoyant reeds. Puno is also home to huge herds of alpacas and llamas and is famed for some of the wildest and most colourful folk dances of the Peruvian highlands.
Arequipa is often overshadowed by the more popular Cusco, however those who visit it, will find a proud and hip city surrounded by stunning mountains including the volcano, El Misti. With some spectacular buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, many use it as a base for excursions to Colca Canyon, allegedly the world’s deepest canyon. For the dedicated, a nine hour bus journey will get you from Arequipa to Ormeño, the closest town to be able to access the spectacular geometric lines and geoglyphs that make up the Nazca Lines – designs representing various animals and figures, drawn into the desert that are visible only from the air.
Many people don’t realise that the northern South American countries such as Peru actually showcase some of the best experiences of the Amazon. Iquitos is the city to visit if you are interested in a base to explore the wonders of the world’s greatest rainforest. It is the largest Peruvian city situated in the rainforest, and uniquely is the largest city in the world that does not have road access (it is only accessible by boat or plane!). From here you are free to use local services and tours to discover the mystery and beauty of a rainforest teeming with some of the most unique and interesting wildlife in the world.
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