Peru

Simply whispering the word ‘Peru’ conjures up shimmering images of ancient, pre-Columbian cultures, stolen gold, ancient warriors with indigenously regal profiles and visiting archaeologists stumbling upon 'lost' Inca ruins. While all of these things can be found in both its past and present, Peru has a veritable plethora of other things to offer its visitors, all set against a stunning background of lushly covered peaks, endless flatlands and Amazonian rainforests. Topping this list are exciting eco-tours in a number of well-preserved national parks, adventure activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, skiing and skydiving, a surf-savvy beach scene that invites you and your cut-offs to worship the sun and hang ten from one end of the country's 2,400-km coastline to the other, and a rich culture built on the food, music and traditions of people from all over the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. Given that tourism ranks number three in Peru's top five money making industries - and continues to grow at lightening speeds - visitors can be sure the country boasts well-developed infrastructure and travel solutions, which mean the bulk of its destinations are accessible and well worth the trip. Highlight destinations here invariably include Machu Picchu, Cuzco, the enigmatical Nazca Lines, the shores of Lake Titicaca, the ancient city of Caral-Supe and the boisterous historical-slash-modern city of Lima. And though any trip to Peru that includes hitting these and other well known highlights is sure to be memorable, one that hits some lesser known but equally awesome destinations will be a good deposit in any visitor's memory bank as well. ~ WBB Staff Writer


Exploring the Peruvian Amazon

I was a woman on a mission when I set out on my Peruvian Amazon riverboat adventure with International Expeditions. Like most of my fellow passengers, this was a bucket-list destination, one that promised to be significant and momentous. My objective was to learn firsthand about this unique environment and its diverse wildlife, as well as about the people who inhabit its lush and verdant rainforests. I had another goal, though. I wanted to see an Anaconda, up close and personal. The Amazon is the Anaconda’s home and I knew this trip represented the best opportunity for me to finally come eye-to-eye with this storied reptile, not to mention the endless creatures I would find along the way. 

Sinking Sneakers in Cahuachi

Photo: Guido GiardaniI woke up to my last day in Peru in the coastal desert city of Nazca, seven hours south of Lima and north of nothing. I had neither the time nor the money to see the infamous Nazca lines - the massive, mysterious geoglyphs dug into the earth an eternity ago - so I rolled out of bed and waited patiently on the empty street of my empty hostel. As the shadows of morning disappeared, the guide I had scheduled pulled up in the same cheap, 300-pound red Toyota that every working Peruvian in the country drives. I hopped in half asleep and we set off without much small talk.

I spent the day exploring the mud city of Cahuachi in the dry desert sun. My guide, Marco, and I were the only visitors - and only humans - for as far as I could see. Marco was as nice as anyone I had met, though the extent of his guiding ended upon us exiting the car and him pointing towards a set of ruins half-hidden under the sand. "Aca estamos," he said [ed. "Here we are."].

I walked slowly towards them, stopping every so often to look back to make sure Marco was still waiting at the car and to wonder why I hadn't thought of bringing any water with me on a trip into the desert. The simple adjectives hot and dry, which are commonly used to describe deserts everywhere, serve Nazca so well that I can't think of words to do it better justice. There was a light, arid breeze though, and it reminded me of the cold, winter winds I was to return to in New York.

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 Full name: Republic of Peru

 Population: 29.55 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Lima

 Largest city: Lima

 Area: 1.285 million sq.km. (496,225 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: Spanish and various  indigenous languages

 Major religions: Roman Catholic and other  Christian groups, other

 Monetary unit: Nuevo Sol

 GDP per capita: US $10,000

 Internet domain: .pe

 International dialling code: +51

 Source: CIA World Factbook