For the most discerning travelers, Surtrek’s travel experts have handpicked a selection of the supremely luxurious Galapagos.
Peru tours have long been a backpacker’s paradise, however this “Empire of Hidden Treasures” has now entered into the limelight as a must-see travel destination for upscale travelers as well. From riverboat expeditions deep in its exotic rainforest to journeys along its vast coastal desert – traveling via the breathtaking peaks of the Andes in between – Peru tours provide a staggering variety of places to visit. Indeed, Peru is a country that offers something for everyone. In this “Part 1” article, here are the first 5 of our 10 favorite spots.
The thought of a Peru tour typically evokes the image of this country’s emblematic Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Inca.” Peru’s most popular tourist attraction, and one of the planet’s most perplexing archaeological enigmas, Machu Picchu is located 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) above sea level in the Andes Mountains, which begs the existential question as to how many of its stone blocks, some weighing more than 50 tons, reached the site and were cut and fitted together in such a precise manner. A UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site and one of today’s Seven Wonders of the World.
Typically a jumping-off point for exploring the nearby Machu Picchu citadel and the Sacred Valley, Cusco is a destination that should definitely not be shortchanged in haste during a Peru tour. The historic capital of the Inca Empire, the city possesses pre-Columbian buildings that earned it UNESCO’s “World Heritage Site” designation. Inca palaces of supreme beauty will be part of your daily walk through the streets, as will be the fine plazas, splendid churches, and denizens who are welcoming of visitors. The heart of the city is the main square, the “Plaza de Armas,” which is surrounded by restaurants, cafes, and churches, while just outside the city limits is an important Inca site known as Sacsayhuaman, an enormous walled complex constructed of large limestone boulders. All of this makes Cusco one of the most important Peru tours.
Together with Machu Picchu, Urubamba Valley (also known as the “Sacred Valley of the Inca”) is one of the must-experience Peru tours. Though the valley roughly lies between Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco, its altitude is more than 600 meters lower, thereby providing it with a warmer micro-climate and allowing travelers to better acclimatize to the region’s high altitudes. A visit here allows one to truly appreciate the grandeur and high level of development of the Inca civilization.
In ancient Andean cultures, Lake Titicaca is considered the birthplace of the Sun God, and today its shores and islands remain the home to peoples such as the Aymaras and Quechuas, who are amongst Peru’s oldest ethnic groups, who predate the Incas by a thousand years. This means that traveling to this lake will allow you to explore traditional villages where Spanish is a second language and where ancient myths and beliefs still hold true. In addition, you will see for yourself that this mystical and fascinating lake is South America’s largest (at 8,372 km2, or 3,232 miles2) and is the world’s highest navigable body of water (at 3,856 meters above sea level). Beyond the touristy, a good Peru tour operator can introduce you to an authentic cultural experience at this idyllic destination.
The second biggest city in Peru, Arequipa is known as the “White City” thanks to its unique architecture, which is why the city’s historic district has been a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site for more than a decade. Its historic district embodies a rich mix of the indigenous and Spanish colonial cultures. Examples of Spanish colonial architecture can be found throughout the city center, characterized by charming streets, and colorful facades, and flower-filled parks.
The entire city of Arequipa is surrounded by three picturesque volcanoes, the most imposing being the Misti Volcano, a snowcapped figure that will accompany you throughout the city. Meanwhile, the beautiful countryside is bathed in the picturesque Chilli River. Arequipa’s eternal spring means that any time of the year is perfect for visiting. All of this explains why Arequipa has long been a popular Peruvian tour destination; a charming destination and a well worthwhile destination, Arequipa is also a great jumping-off point for heading to Colca Canyon.