Once the home of the powerful Inca Empire and conquered by the Spanish in the 1500s, the Republic of Peru is jam-packed with ancient and sacred ruins, colonial leftovers and a level of the naturally magnificent which regularly registers off the scale.
I climbed to the 15th century Machu Picchu site – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – in my early 30s. Something which unsurprisingly left a deep impression and remains the number one Peru must-do. Today there are companies that will tailor itineraries that include trekking this amazing trail.
The wonderful city of Cusco is worth some attention in its own right and not simply because it serves as the gateway to Machu Picchu. I’ve had some great massage treatments here and I’ve also spent more than a happy hour or two hunting down bargains in the Pisaq market or wandering around the multitude of free-to-enter art galleries. And while we’re on the subject of freebies……if you’re a chocoholic don’t miss the wonderful chocolate museum where sampling the wares is all part of the experience.
Away from Machu Picchu there are all kinds of other exciting experiences and South America-flavoured adventures for the taking. Something which registers in the extra-special category is a viewing of the mysterious Nazca Lines – a vast complex of geoglyphs sculpted into the earth of the Nazca desert. The designs include hummingbirds, monkeys, human figures and sharks and cover an area of almost 500 km². It is possible to explore this 1600 year old ‘gallery’ on foot but to truly take in the scale and beauty I would recommend signing up for a flight – an adventure in itself in one of the tiny Cessna aircraft which takes you aloft.
Another highlight of my Peruvian adventure was a day trip from Puno to the floating islands of the fascinating Uros tribe on Lake Titicaca. The homes and furniture of this a ncient people are made entirely from reeds as are the actual ‘islands’ they live on and the boats they use to get around this lake which is so vast it spans both Peru and Bolivia.
Last but oh-so-definitely not least on my personal list of must-dos was a foray into the Amazon rainforest – 13% of this mind-blowing eco-system is claimed by Peru. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that piranha fishing was possible but this is what I ended up doing – something which registers as both fun and memorable in such fantastic natural surroundings. The easiest entry into the Amazon from a more southerly point in Peru is Puerto Maldonado. From here take your pick from a diverse list of possibles w hich includes swimming with pink river dolphins, safari boat tours and tree-top canopy walkways. I wish I could have fitted them all in.
To contact Jerry with your travel questions and for itinerary advice, please email him: [email protected]
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