Within the mountains of Peru lies the hub of the Inca Empire, teamed with Spanish colonial towns and sensational views of the Andes. The nation’s colourful culture is reflected in a tradition of festivals, handicrafts, music and dance.
Situated on the west coast of South America and boasting a population upwards of 29 million - as well as 4,000 types of butterfly – Peru is a country rich in natural resources and cultural importance.
The mysterious world of the ancient Inca Empire pairs nicely with the flavours of a modern gastronomic powerhouse.
To the north lies Lima, the beautiful ‘City of Lights’, and the second driest capital in the world. As Peru’s largest city and shrouded in history, Lima is a curious mix of beautiful churches and monasteries harking back to the Spanish rule, surrounded by an extremely arid desert. However seasoned a traveller you are, be sure to take in the Fuente de la Fantasía (Fantasy Fountain) and watch as the illuminated display dances to music and lasers.
East of Lima and set against a backdrop of ancient ruins, you can immerse yourself in relics of the mysterious Inca Empire (1200-1500 AD) and head to Machu Picchu, the Holy Grail for South America’s tourists and without doubt, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Hugging the hills, the intricate temple offers sensational views of the Sacred Valley below. Those feeling brave can travel as the Inca’s did, on foot, but there’s also an option to visit by train from Cusco if hiking isn’t your forte.
Travel south to discover the striking city of Puno on the majestic Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable body of water. Known as the folkloric capital, it boasts old architecture, traditional festivals, vibrant music, expressive dance and scores of Peruvian women in colourful, traditional dress.
Peruvian food is dominated by spices and big flavours – namely the yellow aji pepper as a staple ingredient - and you’ll find markets with mountains of avocadoes and more varieties of potato than you’ll know what to do with. While the Andean region’s most popular source of meat, the guinea pig, may not be to everyone’s tastes, there’s still plenty of dishes to try. Depending on your tastes, you might want to sample Peru’s national dish, ceviche - a popular raw seafood and chilies recipe that claims to become an obsession for all who try it. And while you’re there, be sure to make time to share stories with the locals you meet. Many have never left the country, or even their villages, and are often fascinated by the tourists’ interest in them and their culture.
Anyone looking to experience a wealth of archaeological and historical treasures teamed with a wide diversity of art, cuisine, literature and music will find Peru is the perfect destination. Just make sure you pick up some local handicrafts before you leave.