Cajamarca - Peru
Attractions of South America e-Book

Peru



To travel in Peru is a wonderful experience. It is such a precious country for all those passionate about human history. It will impress you again and again. The Incas ruled their empire from amazing cities and the country hosts some of the most sacred ancient ruins in the world.

The most visited region of Peru lies in the South. It is here that you'll find wonderful colonial cities and some of the best preserved ruins in the world. The breathtaking sacred Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and the mysterious Nazca Lines can also be found here.


Tours in Peru




Best of Peru

Batán Grande
Comprised of twenty pre-Inca adobe pyramids and sitting at the heart of an ancient algarrobo forest, Batán Grande was the source of most of the fabulous golden grave treasure discovered during the twentieth century.

Huacachina
The legendary lagoon at Huacachina is a quiet, secluded spot with salty waters and mud that have been used for healing over many centuries.

Máncora Beach
The country's most popular surfing haven, Máncora is a groovy stopover when traveling on the north coast - equipment can be hired locally.

Hiking in the Huaraz region
Huaraz is the place to try out andinismo, a distinctive Andean version of alpinismo based on the extensive mountaineering and trekking routes among Peru's highest snow-capped peaks.

Iquitos
Jungle-locked Iquitos offers fascinating examples of European architecture built during the rubber boom a hundred years ago. These days it has a lively nightlife and excellent rainforest tourism facilities.

Taquile Island
Almost 13,700ft above sea level, Taquile is an ancient jewel in the waters of Lake Titicaca - the local Indians speak in whispers and, apart from a few solar electric panels, there's only llama power.

Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is just one of innumerable footpaths that snake across the Peruvian Andes, but its climactic end point - the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu - draws trekkers from around the world.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu may be a symbolic cliché for South American tourism, but the magic of this Inca citadel's splendid pre-Colombian architecture and breathtaking subtropical mountain setting live up to the hype.

Colca Canyon
The deepest canyon in the world at over 1km from cliff edge to river bottom, Colca boasts some of Peru's finest Andean scenery and is the most reliable place for wild condor spotting.

Nazca
Famous for the ancient geometric and animal designs etched into the surrounding desert plateau, Nazca is the gateway to many more mysterious pre-Inca sites and ceremonial centers.





Lima

San Francisco de Asís Church in Lima - Peru The historic center of Lima is one of Peru's main tourist destinations. It is located mainly in downtown Lima and the Rímac District, in central Lima. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 due the large number of historical buildings dating from the Spanish colonial era, a small number of which have now been restored.

Lima became the most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, which encompassed nearly all of Spain's possessions in South America during the colonial era (mid 1500s to early 1800s).

Lima Balconies The city's cultural importance was contested perhaps only by Bogotá, and its architecture and political importance in Latin America were equalled only by Mexico City.

There are more than 1,600 colonial era balconies in the buildings of the historic center. To help maintain and conserve them, the Municipality of Lima invited companies and private institutions to "adopt" these balconies, which are particularly harmonious and give originality to this part of the city.

It is advisable not to spend too much time in Lima (2 to 3 days). Go and see some of the astonishing exhibitions, have a drink while you soak up the nightlife in Miraflores and get your ticket to explore the many wonders the country has to offer.

Read more about Lima



Cuzco

Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire and is the single most important city you have to see when you travel in Peru. There is so much to see and to do that you need 3 weeks to see it all (that's about the time I stayed there). It is cultural heritage is impressive. And it can be shaky at times (I remember a 3 second earth quick when I was having breakfast one morning).

From Cusco you can get some exciting action with river rafting, visit the market in Pisac or explore one of the many impressive ruins in the surroundings. Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, is the main attraction in the surroundings of Cuzco.

Read more about Cuzco


The arrival of the 'conquistadores' in Cusco - Peru
Wall painting in a street in Cuzco depicting the arrival of the 'conquistadores' in Peru



Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a precious wonder of human heritage and an absolute must see when you are in Cuzco. Build by the Incas in the mountains it was found only a few decades ago.

The National Geographic has chosen Machu Picchu as one of the World Wonders in its 50 Places of a Lifetime picks. Read more about Machu Picchu - The Lost City of the Incas

You can reach the ruins either by train or by setting out to Machu Picchu as the Incas did, on the Inca Trail. During my hike on the Inca Trail a tragedy was unfolding and I invite you to read my story of the Machu Picchu Fire Disaster with unique pictures (believe me) of cultural heritage going up in flames.







Welcome to Peru
Welcome to Peru, from North to South an adventure to cherish

From North to South

Chiclayo - The burial place Señor de Sipan is one of the many impressive sites. It is a burial place with  a replica (the original is in a museum in Lima together with the many golden artifacts they found on the site). It is a day trip from the nearby city Chiclayo.

Cajamarca - All the way up the Andes you have the colonial town Cajamarca - click here for some pictures -, marked forever in human history as this was the city where South American history changed forever. Inca Emperor Atahualpa was captured and later killed  here by the "conquistadores"  in 1532.

Read more about Cajamarca - Read more about The Battle of Cajamarca here

  • From Cajamarca you can travel to El Tingo to marvel at Kuelap, an impressive pre-inca ruin. I had a very special spiritual moment in Kuelap when I entered the ruins all by myself on a moonlit night. That moment still lives inside me (I am getting goose bumps while writing this). The silence, the moonlit ruins, you could almost touch history. Ok, I am back on earth...

Trujillo - There's a very picturesque plaza with colorful buildings in Trujillo and the "must see" sites are Chan Chan, Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna - click here for some pictures of Chan Chan -. And just have a look at the public transport! You want adventure? You got adventure!

Read more about Trujillo - Read more about Chan Chan here



Public transport to Huaca de la Luna, Trujillo - Peru
Public transport to Huaca de la Luna, Trujillo - Peru (this one beats them all!)


Huaraz - The Andes is a spectacular mountain range (cordillera) and Peru has some excellent places for the adventurous traveler among us. Huaraz is a very nice town and the place to be if you want some outdoor activities. I did an unforgettable 4 day hike (not just because there was a very prosperous flea community living in my rented sleeping bag) in the surroundings (Santa Cruz Hike Tour) and as always, - pictures say more than words - .

Ayacucho - And up the mountains again, it was a long bus ride, to Ayacucho. There were some check points on the way. Ayacucho - click here for some pictures - was the capital of the "Shining Path" (Sendero Luminoso), a maoist group inflicting a lot of problems for local people and tourists alike. And yes, when I arrived there was a festival (it seemed like everywhere I went in Peru there were some festivities going on, the Festival God was definitely with me).

Nazca Lines - One of the major mysteries of South America are the enigmatic Nazca Lines. Drawn in the dunes the gigantic figures can only be appreciated from the air. Various theories circle around and for those wanting to engage themselves in hilarious "outer space" settlement theories I can highly recommend reading the books by Swiss author Erich Von Däniken.

Arequipa - A wonderful "must see" city guarded by the Mysti volcano. The city hosts the wonderful Santa Catalina monastery, truly a city within a city. The monastery is 500 years old and very, very colorful. A small part is closed for tourists.

Read more about Arequipa - Read more about The Santa Catalina Monastery here


You can see the majestic condors a few hours away from Areuipa at the Colca Canyon.
  • To see a condor evokes so many emotions and the gorgeous Colca Canyon is the perfect lookout for condors. I went all by myself to the canyon. The groups stay for one hour. When I was there a group arrived and we were all anxious to see the condors... nothing... 15, 30, 45 minutes... nothing. The group left. 5 minutes later half a dozen majestic condors started circling around in the sky. What a sight...
Wonderful girl with her dog Oro (Gold) at the Colca Canyon - Peru
Wonderful shepherd girl at the Colca Canyon - Peru

For detailed information on history, politics, economy and so on, please consult the excellent Wikipedia article of Peru.


Special note: I'd like to thank the Oliveira family from Cusco for their hospitality. The 3 weeks were unforgettable. Que le vaya muy bien!



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Must See Places in Peru
Machu Picchu Cuzco Arequipa
Machu Picchu Cuzco Arequipa


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© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire