Over the past two decades, Peru has cemented its reputation as a mainstream tourism destination. If you’ve yet to visit this friendly South American nation, here’s why you should put Peru on your bucket list.
Machu Picchu’s not the half of it
Machu Picchu, unsurprisingly, is the country’s top attraction. Around a million overseas and domestic visitors gaze at this captivating Inca citadel each year. Measures introduced to limit the impact of such numbers cap the permits issued for the Inca Trail. Timed tickets for day visitors arriving by train are now the norm. But despite the fact that you won’t be able to claim you’re a pioneer, the mix of archaeology and nature remains a heady one. The jumping off point for Machu Picchu is charming Cusco, where yet more Incan ruins await. Sacsayhuaman fortress becomes the outdoor stage for the colourful Inti Raymi festival in June but there are mini festivals taking place across the Sacred Valley year round. Allow at least a week to do this area justice and be prepared to return for a second dose.
A country of two halves?
For years, southern Peru has cleaned up when it comes to tourism receipts. Alongside the Cusco area, tourists have long been acquainted with Puno, perched on the edge of Lake Titicaca in the altiplano. Arequipa, its historic core built from white sillar stone, is also a favourite of many travellers. But word is out that northern Peru has as much to offer. Head to Chachapoyas and discover Kuelap fortress. Once remote, a new cable car has made this hilltop ruin a whole lot more accessible. Nearby, Gocta Falls can be reached on a day hike and the sarcophagi of Karajia complete the trio of must-see attractions. Team it with Cajamarca, where you’ll find Atahualpa’s ransom room.
An emerging foodie destination
Peru’s cuisine has far more to offer than potatoes, though an estimated 4000 varieties are native to the Andes. One of the reasons for such a varied cuisine is the country’s geographical and cultural diversity. A visit to Lima is now a paradise for gastronomes. Food tours showcase the likes of ceviche, and you’ll find this tasty seafood dish alongside cuy (guinea pig), lomo saltado, ají de gallina, and papa a la huancaína. Try these and more at the annual Mistura festival which takes place in the Peruvian capital each September. Failing that, make a reservation for one of Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio’s restaurants – he has become the nation’s culinary ambassador.
A warm welcome awaits
Peru’s football fans delighted viewers across the globe when they descended on Russia for the FIFA World Cup in 2018. But their enthusiasm, optimism and all round good humour isn’t just seen when they travel. That’s a big part of the reason why the country’s such a fun place to visit. The local population are genuinely delighted that you’ve taken the trouble to visit their country and will go out of their way to extend a warm welcome. A friendly smile goes a long way, but to show Peruvians you’re really keen to get to know them, why not learn a little Spanish before you set off?
Are you tempted to put Peru on your bucket list? If so, why not give Mundana a call and let us help plan the trip with you.