Peru has so many stunning places that will turn your eyes wide as searchlights. Here are 5 (not sure how we kept it to 5!!) of our favorites:
The desert coastline of Peru offers up some glorious views and dramatic seas. Paracas, home of an ancient pre-Colombian culture is one of the most beautiful stretches. The Ballestas Islands, known for their unique fauna, including penguins and massive sea lion colonies, are just offshore. The beaches, including La Mina, are red sand wonders and there is the Candelabra, a mysterious and massive engraving in the side of the sandy cliff overlooking the blue Pacific. The purpose of the 1,500-year-old engraving is a mystery to archaeologists. In the coastal town of Paracas itself are splendid restaurants and excellent hotels as well as all kinds of activities like kite surfing, boat trips, sailing, fishing, horseback riding, hiking and beachcombing. A desert oasis along the sea, Paracas is a unique and special place.
North of Cusco are the well known areas of Pisac, Ollantaytambo and of course, Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world. But south of the colonial city are a series of amazing towns and sets of ruins including the less visited town of Andahuaylillas. The town is home to a Baroque church that is known as the "Sistine Chapel of America," for its spectacular frescoes that adorn its walls and ceiling. The Andean cuisine in the region is also famous, including, if your up for it, roasted "cuy," or guinea pig, a local delicacy and one that make many a traveler squirm. Nearby is the Incan aqueduct of Tipon, another seldom visited site. We will visit all these places and indulge in "cuy" if you are so inclined, on our Sacred Valley trip on July 1, 2016.
The spiritual and mystical peak of Ausangate is one of the most stunning regions of the Peruvian Andes. Glorious skies, herds of alpaca and llamas, snow capped peaks that scrape the skies and high altitude passes are just part of the adventure when trekking through this unique ecosystem. A system of lodges, run and set up by local villagers, allow one to trek in comfort, your supplies being carried by an alpaca caravan. Imagine arriving after a once in a lifetime day of hiking, being greeted by local musicians and then feasting on local cuisine including fresh trout and vegetables. Alpaca is also a specialty here. We have a great trip that includes visits to Machu Picchu, Cusco and the rigorous trek to Ausangate.
Andean condors soaring over the deepest canyon in the world is the main draw for people from all over the world to travel the long distances in order to get to the Colca. However, many arrive in the tour bus, see the condors and then turn around and head out. Colca needs time, time to wander from one village to the other that line the rim of the canyon. Time to meet the people in the villages, each one wearing the distinctive clothes that are unique to each village. Time to fish for some trout, or just stop in one of the rustic restaurants to sample the delicate fish. Wandering through the Colca is like going through a time warp, especially if you time it right for the festivals in the villages. Nowhere else in the world like it!
Few travelers ever get to Mito, a district in the central Andes of Peru not far from the city of Huancayo. Aside from the bucolic and pastoral setting Mito is famous for its fresh and remarkable fruits and vegetables. It is also famous for the "Huacones de Mito," an ancient festival that takes place at the beginning of each year. Participants adorn themselves with incredible masks that show respect to the Andean gods and dance, play music and celebrate for days on end. It is a spectacle few outsiders witness and a true look into customs that have not changed for many generations. It is well worth the trek to get there, plus the food in the region is some of the best in the whole Andean chain.
Posted by Michael Robinson Chávez