When we think of Peru Tourism the first thing that comes to mind is Machu Picchu the amazing wonder of the world dating to the time of the Pre-Colombian Incas.
But Peru has many more sights for the tourist. Starting with the Capital of Peru, Lima, nicknamed “The City of Palaces” or in Spanish “La Ciudad de los Palacios” with a vast history.
The Basilica Cathedral of Lima Peru
Peru is a Center of pre-Columbus civilization
There is evidence of civilizations on the Peruvian Pacific Ocean dating as back as 3,000 BC. The Norte Chico, the Moche, Chavin, Chimu and Nazca civilizations have left their footprints all over the country.
Other attractions include the Andes that run alongside the length of Peru, separating the Amazon Rainforest from the arid coastal area. The Titicaca Lake shared with neighboring Bolivia is one more attraction. Here is a summary of the Top sights of interest for tourists.
Machu Picchu is the # 1 tourist destination in Peru
Located 2,500 meters above sea level this Inca site in the region of Cuzco through which the Urubamba River flows is by far the #1 tourist destination spot in Peru.
Archaeologists estimate it was built around 1450 and later abandoned during the Spanish conquest at the end of this same century. It was built as an estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti. Sometimes referred as “The Lost Inca City” it is the most remarkable of Inca sites.
It was brought to the world attention by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since then many of the buildings have been restores to give the visitor a better understanding of what it was originally. By 1976, almost half of Machu Picchu was restores and the restoration continues until this day.
The Peruvian government takes all necessary steps to prevent from deterioration of the site. Certain things are impossible to stop, like earthquakes and weather systems. But tourists coming by the thousands can also jeopardize the conservation of the area.
The discoverer, Bingham removed may cultural artifact from the site that are today in custody at Yale University in the United States. This has created a long term dispute between both governments.
The Colca Canyon in Peru is deeper than the Grand Canyon
This is a canyon of the Colca River in the Andes mountain range about 160 km of the city of Arequipa in southern Peru. It is twice deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States, but the canyons walls are less steep.
It is visited by about 120,000 tourists a year making it the second most visited site in Peru. One this is a real attraction here the beautiful condors that can be seen flying at close range.
Mancora, Peru a town with nice beaches in the Pacific Ocean
The claim to fame of this rather small Peruvian town is the spectacular beaches on the Pacific Ocean, stretching for several km with the best sands of the country.
It attracts visitors to its shores from all over South America and has been discovered by many hotels for all budgets that take care of these visitors. It also features many restaurants and cafes that cater to this special crowd.
It is located in northwestern Peru in the Piura region and the Pan-American Highway passes through town actually becoming its main street.
The perfect waves have made Mancora an ideal surfing spot for those that like this sport.
The ancient hieroglyphics of the "Nazca Lines" in Peru
These are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima.
Archaeologists believe that the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca people between 400 and 650 AD. The figures they resemble go from simple lines to perfect designs of animals such are birds, monkeys, sharks and lizards. In 1994 they were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina in Peru dating to 1580
Founded in 1580 this is a monastery of nuns of the Dominican Second Order. The 20,000 square meter building was built in the Mudéjar style, is one of the most important colonial monasteries in Latin America.
I was founded by a rich widow, Maria de Guzman and the monastery accepted only daughters of the high society of that time. It was such a privilege at that time that the families paid a dowry for the right of their daughters being accepted.
In its height, the monastery had a population of 450 people, about a third of nuns and the rest of servants.
In the 1960s it was hit by earthquakes that caused lots of damage and forced the nuns to build further accommodations next door.
Iquitos a town in the Peruvian Amazon
This is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and the fifth largest city in Peru. The city is surrounded by the rivers Nanay and Itaya, affluent of the Amazon River. The population is close to 500,000 and its official nickname is” Capital of the Peruvian Amazon”.
It is the largest city in the world that cannot be accessed by road therefore it can be reached only by airplane or by boat through the rivers.
Iquitos is a cosmopolitan city and is considered the starting point of many tours into the Amazon rainforest. In the last few years it has been visited by a quarter of a million people, especially after the Amazon was designated one of the “Seven Natural Wonders”
People in this type of travel assure us that the Amazon tours in the area of Iquitos are superior to their counterparts in Brazil. It is basically the same but in a less spoiled environment.
Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca in Peru
These artificial islands on Lake Titicaca’s Peruvian Altiplano, are made of dried totora reeds. The Uros, a pre-Incan people used these reeds as a primary source of food and also for the construction of their home. Reeds are constantly added to the top of the islands to counteract those in the bottom that become rotten. The people of the islands speak the Aymara Language.
Tourists may visit the islands by boat on a tour over Lake Titicaca. You may depart from Puno on the Peruvian side for a ride of about 2 hours. The largest of the about 40 islands is the Isla de Santa Maria.
Huacachina is an oasis located near the city of Ica, Peru
This is a tiny oasis town located near the city of Ica. It attracts many international visitors, because they use to opportunity to sand board in the surrounding dunes. I like the legend about this oasis:
“It says that the lagoon was created when a beautiful native princess was apprehended at her bath by a young hunter and she fled leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle, streaming behind her as she ran, became the surrounding sand dunes. And the woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid.”
Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, Peru
The Plaza de Armas in all Latin America is the center of town. In Cuzco this square was built by the original Incas and was called “The Square of the Warriors” and was the center of culture of the Inca people.
Cuzco, the Capital of the Incas was built in the form of a Puma and the square qwas intentionally built on the heart of the Puma.
The Spanish built here two important churches, the Cathedral and the Church of La Compañia.
Chan Chan is the largest pre-Colombian town in South America
This is largest pre-Columbian city in South America, located in the Peruvian region of La Liberdad.
It has a dense urban center and was constructed the Kingdom of Chimu an intermediate people formed from the remnants of the Moche Civilization.
It is the largest adobe city in the world and was built around 850 AD and lasted until the conquest by the Inca Empire in 1450 AD. At the peak of its glory it had about 30,000 inhabitants.
Chan Chan was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986.
Flag of Peru
It was officially adopted on February 25, 1825. The colors are said to symbolize the Incas and their lasting impact on the country. Also, red and white are the colors chosen by Jose de San Martin, The Liberator. The coat of arms features a llama and chichona tree, important symbols of Peru, and a centered cornucopia representing prosperity.
Map of Peru and neighboring countries
images for peru tourism
basilica by avodrocc
machu picchu by allard schmidt gfdl
colca by world wide gifts
nazca by martin st amart
huacachina by diego delso
plaza cuzco by christophe nontboeuf
chan chan by gsd97jks
all courtesy of wikimedia commons