9.190° S, 75.015° W
“In the variety of its charms
and the power of its spell,
I know of no other place in the world
which can compare with it.”
Those were the words of explorer Hiram Bingham III, who made public the existence of the ‘lost’ city of Machu Picchu in 1911. Since then, the 15th-century Inca citadel has attracted hoards of tourists to Peru, and with good reason. It is one of the most fascinating archaeological sites, one that is soaked in history and mystery. But the South American country has so much more to offer! Something for every kind of vacation — culture, wildlife, adventure, food and tipples, or just nature! #DSSCRecommends eight sites you must visit when in Peru.
Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, Puno
Yes, floating islands. Floating islands of totora reeds made by the Uro people. These self-fashioned, and still growing islands are quite the sight. They are anchored by sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The inhabitants, an indigenous people of Peru, replenish the reed ever so often as they rot from below. The reeds are also used to make boats, homes, archways, swings, and a lot more. For an immersive experience, plan your stay at Isla Khantati.
Aka Rainbow Mountain, Vinicunca is famous for the colours painted across it. The stripes of mineral deposits on the sandstone rock lend it marvellous colours — blues, greens, yellows, and reds — that make for a view that is bound to take your breath away (it’s definitely the view and not the altitude, but to be on the safer side, spend a few days in Cusco to acclimate yourself). Fair warning, it’s a long and hard trek from Cusco, but one that is truly worth the expended effort.
Baratillo Market, Cusco
This weekly market is a favourite amongst the locals. Also known as ‘the smugglers market’, it’s teeming with colourful merchandise — ponchos, hand-woven carpets, musical instruments, and antiques are amongst the goods on offer. The Saturday Baratillo Market also offers a plethora of culinary treats such as quail eggs, manjar stuffed churros, chicha, pork rinds, and ceviche.
La Orquídea, Tarapoto
‘Peru’ is not what comes to mind when you say ‘chocolate’, but it’s a good time to change that notion. Cocoa bean has been cultivated in Latin America for over two millennia, so a trip to a plantation, a sneak peek into how chocolate is made, and of course the procurement of a sample (or samples) to take home is a must. La Orquídea, in the San Martín region of the Peruvian Amazon, is a wonderful option to explore.
Cañón Del Colca
Situated in the Arequipa region of southern Peru, the Colca Canyon, at a depth of 3,270 metres, is one of the deepest in the world. It is home to the Andean condor, aka the ‘Eternity Bird’, among other notable bird species. The canyon is also dotted with archaeological sites for those interested in history and hot springs for, well, everyone! For those looking for a shot of adrenalin, rafting down the Colca is the way to go.
Reserva Nacional Tambopata
Hands down one of the best places to discover the Amazon, Tambopata National Reserve is home to species of over 632 birds, 169 mammals, and 1,200 butterflies. Canoeing in the Sandoval Lake is one of the most scenic escapades in Peru. The other tick on the to-do list needs to be against the macaw clay lick, one of the largest natural clay licks in the world. Every day, thousands of brilliantly coloured macaws and parrots arrive at the cliffs to feed on mineral salts.
In addition to lush jungles, Peru also features white sandy beaches! Máncora, a quiet seaside village on the northern Pacific coast, is a haven for those looking to surf and enjoy some ceviche. Close to the equatorial line, Máncora offers perennial sun and rideable waves. If you’re not a surfing pro, don’t fear, there’s an abundant supply of surf schools right on the beach should the waves tempt you to give them a go. Once there, you ought to get your fill of seafood and pisco sours.
Last, but not the least. Though a key city on the Peruvian map, the capital often gets missed out on itineraries. It’s clearly visible in the architecture and culinary offerings that Lima is a melting pot of cultures. Brimming with museums and churches; a thriving gastronomic scene; beaches and natural reserves; a roaring nightlife; and Circuito Mágico del Agua (The Magic Water Circuit), a series of choreographed and lit fountains, the city is has something on offer for everyone.
#DSSCTopTip: Keep soles (the Peruvian currency) in small denominations handy, those are preferred over denominations larger than twenty and cards.
Featured Image Courtesy: insolitviatges.com
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