Peru – Amazon & Machu Picchu
Of all the South American countries that span the Andes, Peru might just be the most unique and varied. From the bustling urban sprawl of Lima to the lush canopy of the Amazon and the Incan ruins that dot the country, Peru has something for just about everyone.
A trip to Peru would usually begin in Lima, one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere. The main language spoken in Peru is Spanish, and Lima locals are accommodating and even used to the presence of tourists. The shopping in the city, especially around the Plaza De Armas, can give visitors a good sense of the up-and-coming culture. Famous attractions include the Municipal Palace, the Pucllana Temple, and the El Malacon parks in the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores. Lima is also the best place to try the local cuisine, including ceviche, a famous fish dish with red chili peppers and onions marinated in lime juice.
Outside of Lima, which holds almost half of Peru’s population, the country changes with the climate and the elevation. Another big destination for sightseers is the former Incan capital of Cusco, located in the Urambaba Valley of the Andes. Sitting at 3,000+ meters, Cusco is the perfect “base camp” for visitors wishing to adjust to higher elevations before trekking into the Andes. The granite-walled city is the perfect place to buy an alpaca fur poncho! Depending on how adventurous you are, you can also try some of the country’s more exotic fare, including roast guinea pig and alpaca steak.
From Cusco, it’s easy to reach Aguas Calientes, a popular tourist town near the base of the ascent to Machu Picchu. Kids and adults alike will love basking in the hot springs and shopping along the narrow streets lined with interesting souvenir stands. The hot springs are also a great way to unwind before catching a bus to the main attraction.
Machu Picchu (which translates to “old peak” in Quechua), voted one of the “New” Seven Wonders of The World, is the sort of sight you don’t easily forget, especially at sunrise. A summer estate of the ancient Incan emperor, Pacahuti, Machu Picchu’s dry-stone walls and austere beauty have been memorialized by tourists around the world. It’s more than worth the trip, even if you do opt for the 4-hour hike to the peak. Seasoned hikers may also want to continue up to Huayna Picchu, the sister site on the peak “behind” Machu Picchu in the postcards.
Another of the most popular and requested locations we visit in Peru is the Amazon rainforest, which actually makes up over 60% of the country! In fact, Peru claims the largest portion of the rainforest after Brazil, which translates to some incredible sightseeing.
We wouldn’t be lying if we said that a trek through the Peruvian Amazon might leave you with memories to last a lifetime. The sheer amount of biodiversity is incredible. The Amazon is home to over 321 different species of butterfly alone. Stranger insects, like the types you’d only see on Discovery Channel, also appear during daylight hours. (We still don’t know most of their names!) It wouldn’t even be too surprising if we stumbled upon a giant armadillo or capybara by the shoreline. The kids would love it!
A Peruvian excursion is, first and foremost, an adventure. We can customize a trip for you and it can be very rigorous and include hiking the Inca trail or more leisurely and include trains and luxury hotels.
We are customizing more and more adventures for people and once in a lifetime trips. If we can help you out, let us know.
Liz and Mike Kohler
The Family Odyssey