Sep 28, 2015

Places to visit in Peru

The Uros Islands are just one of the amazing sites in Peru. The islands are located near the Andean city of Puno. If visiting Peru is on your bucket list and your travel dates are flexible check the airfares frequently. I have never unraveled the mysteries of airfares. I have seen some flights to Peru for under $500. I find it less expensive to book the land portion of travel myself. I contact hotels directly and booking tours locally. Only a valid passport is needed. Visitors to the Andean region (Puno, Cusco, Machu Picchu) should take it easy the first couple of days to adjust to the altitude.

1. Lima: In Lima, the capital city, head to Plaza de Armas, where the Government Palace is located with a colorful Changing of the Guard at noon. Be early to get a good viewing spot. Also on the Plaza is the Cathedral of Lima and the Archbishop’s Place which was built in the 1600s. Take note of the intricate carved wooden balconies.

2. Cusco: The Incas thought Cusco was the center of the world. The city is a jumping off point for visiting Machu Picchu but don’t miss the Plaza de Armas with a beautiful cathedral and where there are usually llamas, alpacas, vendors, and Andean musicians. Take note of the foundations of the older buildings which were built by the Incas. The Spanish built on top of them.

3. Machu Picchu: There are several ways to get to the iconic Machu Picchu. The hale and hearty can take a multi-day trek along the Inca Trail. Most people take either the tourist train or the luxurious Hiram Bingham train. The last part of the train trip is a heart stopping bus ride from switchback to switchback.

4. Nazca: The Nazca lines are one of the world’s mysteries.  They are only visible from the air. There is a fun four-wheel tour over the massive sand dunes.  The small plane dipping and turning over the Nazca Lines and the four-wheel ride that charges up one dune and down another are exciting to say the least.

5. Trujillo: Trujillo is a coastal city north of Lima. Near Trujillo is Chimu, the capital of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas. The city was made up of large plazas, temples, and large tombs for their nobility. The Chimu Kingdom reached its peak in the 15th century and then fell to the more powerful Incas. It is another of Peru’s World Heritage sites.

6. Arequipa: Arequipa, lovely colonial city, is home to Monasterio de Santa Catalina which is frozen in time. For centuries it was closed to the public. It is the jumping off point for visits to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

7. Puno: The city is located on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world accessible by
the train from Cusco. The main reason to visit Puno is to take a tour to the Uros Islands where the villages of the pre-Inca people are on floating reed islands.

8. Amazonia: There are several places in Peru to enter Amazonia. Most travelers head to Iquitos for a river cruise. However, Manu National Park, another UNESCO site, has a large expanse of virgin forest and is less visited. Don’t expect to see a lot of wild animals including snakes in the Amazon.