One of the Peru’s most striking features is the Andes mountains, running the entire length of the country and dividing it. It’s quite likely that a traveler will have to either cross the mountains to get from one side of Peru to the other, or that their destination may be further above sea level than they’re used to, so it’s important to be mindful of altitude sickness when visiting. To put things into perspective, Peru’s most visited city, Cusco, is roughly 11,000 feet above sea level–a full thousand feet higher than the highest city in the United States. It’s very important for travelers to make sure they take the appropriate steps to prevent altitude sickness. That said, for those who want to brave the peaks of the Andes, there are numerous beautiful sights to see and fun activities to keep them busy.
Machu Picchu is easily the most recognizable landmark in all of Peru. Originally built by the Incas in 1450, it was abandoned less than 100 years later and remained unknown to the rest of the world until 1911. The ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and have also been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. A popular spot for tourists, this secluded citadel is located almost 8,000 miles above sea level in an area known as the Sacred Valley. Incredible views and amazing history await you here, plus a few llamas and alpacas-they’re native to the high elevation and wander the ruins and summit.
If mountain climbing isn’t your thing, how about some white water rafting? Peru has great rafting available with all kinds of scenery to enjoy. The Urubamba River will allow you a unique view of the Andes, the Tambopata River will give you glimpses of the Amazonian jungle (some tour operators have routes that go through the Tambopata National Reserve), and you can even enjoy canyon rafting near Cotahuasi Canyon. I can’t imagine a better way to take in some truly unique scenery.
Have you ever wanted to explore the Amazon rain forest? If you visit Peru, you can! With the second largest portion of Amazon rain forest (beaten only by Brazil), there are many tours of rain forest tours available for you to unleash your inner jungle explorer. Thousands of plants, animals, bugs, and more await you in the dense trees. Just don’t stray from the path!
If you’re more of a beach baby, there’s also some beautiful beaches available to enjoy on the long Peruvian coastline. Whether your favorite beach activity is sunbathing or surfing, you’re sure to find a nice spot to lay out, catch some rays, and enjoy the ocean breeze. If you like sand, but aren’t a beach person, you can even enjoy activities like sandboarding on the dunes of Ica or hang and paragliding up and down the entire country.
For those travelers who aren’t nature buffs, you can still find plenty to see and experience Be sure to check in with any local craftsmen you can find for unique souvenirs. With a rich history of art and a wonderful culture influenced by both native populations and immigrants, there are plenty of parades and other cultural activities to enjoy. You’ll also find beautiful handmade goods made of everything from wool, stone, and wood, to repurposed painted gourds and intricately handmade jewelry and pottery. Many of the designs incorporated into these items and the techniques used to create them originated with the native Inca population and have been passed down for centuries. You’ll find a lot of diversity in the subject matter of Peruvian art-there’s a huge juxtaposition of Incan culture with Christian iconography, which is reflective of the rich history of immigration and colonization.
Speaking of food, thanks to its history, Peru’s cuisine is astoundingly diverse and one of the best examples of fusion cuisine you’ll find anywhere on earth. Did you know that Peru is home to more than 100 species of potato? It’s true! You’ll see some familiar favorites, like corn and potatoes, and some new ingredients too (guinea pig, anyone?), all mixed with delicious chilies and spices.
Peru has one of the longest histories of civilization in the world, and when you look at all the great things it has to offer, it’s no wonder why! From the foodie to the nature lover, Peru truly has something for everyone. It’s a sure bet that visitors will have a vacation to remember! www.peru.travel