Peru is a fascinating country that can take a lifetime to explore. Every year, thousands of tourists come to visit and many fall in love with the variety of discoveries waiting to be made.
Cusco, Peru’s most common tourist destination (receiving nearly 1 million visitors yearly) is called by some the “archeological capitol of the Americas”. It’s the first step in any trip to Machu Picchu, the famed ‘Lost City of the Incas’. Travelers to Cusco often visit nearby Ollantaytambo, an ancient town which was a fortress for Inca resistance leaders during the Spanish occupation. The Sacred Valley and the Inca Trail are other intriguing bits of Incan culture to discover in the area. Cusco and Machu Picchu have both been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Nazca is popular destination for tourists interested in the unusual or mystical. The Nazca Lines, as they are called, are giant lines drawn in the sand of the nearby desert and are also a World Heritage Site. No one knows the exact purpose of the lines, but it’s assumed that there is some religious significance. The lines are best seen from the air, and there is a small airport nearby where six-seat planes take passengers on a large loop around some of the best preserved of the figures. A museum dedicated to Maria Reiche, an archeologist who spent much of her life dedicated to the study and preservation of the lines, is another popular attraction in Nazca. A trip to Nazca wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Chauchilla Cemetery to see the tombs and remains of the ancient tribes.
Thousands of travelers each year make their way to Iquitos, despite the fact that it cannot be reached by road. Iquitos is a perfect stepping stone for those interested in tours of the Amazon rainforest and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Bird watching in the Amazon basin is unparalleled, and there are many jungle lodges near Iquitos for tourists to stay in as they explore. Boat tours of nearby Belén and trips to its open air market are also popular with visitors.
On the opposite end of Peru, next to Bolivia, we find Puno and Lake Titicaca. Located in the Andean highlands, Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake. One of the most interesting sights to be found is the Uros people who make their homes in the lake on floating ‘islands’, handmade from reeds. Isla Taquile is a popular daytrip from Puno for exploring and buying textiles and nearby Cutimbo and Sillustani are known for their pre-Incan ruins and tombs.
Paracas is a popular nature reserve in the region of Ica on the coast of Peru. Visitors to Paracas have the opportunity to observe different ecosystems, archeological remains of the Paracas tribe, and a great variety of marine life. Organized boat tours from Paracas will take visitors out to Isla Ballestas, home to more than 150 different species of marine birds including cormorants and penguins. The waters near the island team with sea-lions and even the occasional dolphin or whale is spotted. For those more interested in ancient cultures, there is always a visit to the Julio C. Tello Museum to learn of the Paracas tribe.