The Wonders of Peru

Many of us learned about historic sites such as Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu in history and geography classes but have never visited them, or even the country in which they reside: Peru. Located in Western South America and bordering the South Pacific Ocean, this country is home to some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring tourist sites and vacation hot spots in the world. It is most famous for Machu Picchu, which is located in the Andes Mountains, but is also home to the Temple of Coricancha, The Cathedral and Church of The Society of Jesus, and the Racchi Ruins of the Inca Empire.

Machu Picchu stands almost 8,000 feet above sea level in the tropical mountain range of the Andes. The urban structures were built on the mountains during the height of the Inca Empire and, with a breathtaking view, one can also explore Inca architecture and culture. The archaeological site is comprised of approximately 200 artifices and structures that were used for agriculture, religious ceremonies, and the study of astronomy. This site is located in the lush rain forest of the Amazon basin and overlooks the Urubamba Valley.

Other famous Peruvian archaeological complexes can be found at Qenko and Puca Pucara. Qenko is located in Peru’s Sacred Valley of Cusco and is believed to be a site of religious rituals and ceremonies that were held in honor of the sun, moon, and stars. The site was constructed from the use of natural rock formations and Inca building techniques. Around the complex are zigzagged corridors and winding underground tunnels that are believed to have been used by the ministers and priests of the holy sites.

Puca Pucara is more obscure because its history is primarily a matter of speculation. Historians believe the site was built during the reign of the Inca Empire’s ninth ruler and, given its location, was used as a military compound or resting facility for military personnel, nobility, and hunters. Furthermore, the stone walls are shaped irregularly, which have led some to believe that the site was built quickly in order to respond to a rapidly emerging threat. However, what is known is that the grounds were comprised of canals, plazas, individual rooms, and luxurious baths.

In addition to Peru’s archaeological sites, the country contains magnificent civilizations that are still around today. In Lake Titicaca, the people of the Uros Nation continue with their amazing cultures and lifestyles. These people are famous for living on floating reed islands and having a strong reliance on the lake’s totora reeds for not only the ground they walk on but also other aspects of their society. These reed islands were constructed to escape the aggression of the Colla and Inca people and the most authentic of these sites can only be accessed by private boat.

Last but not least is Lake Titicaca, which is as well-known as the Amazon River and was considered by the Incas to be the birthplace of the sun. This vast water body lays almost 13,000 feet above sea level and the civilizations of the Pukara, Collas, and Tiwanaku left an indelible mark with their rich histories and cultures. On the Peruvian side of the lake, a popular town to visit is Puno. This city has been designated as an economic zone by the Peruvian government and has been named Peru’s folklore capital because of its strong relationship with cultural and artistic expression, especially dance.

New Tourism Opportunities in Cuba!

      Rich in history, diversity, and vacation hot spots, Cuba is a great place to explore the world and relax with friends and family. The country has many attractions such as the Valley de Los Ingenios, Palacio Brunet, and Plaza Vieja. Fortunately, with the newly relaxed travel ban, Cuba is now more accessible to Americans, US travelers can spend money more freely when in the country, and the categories for approved travel have been expanded.  With these new freedoms, travel packages have become available to accommodate US tourists.        

        Popular destinations are Havana and Trinidad because of their history, atmosphere, and beauty. With four plazas, many different restaurants, and bars, Havana is one of the country’s most popular cities and was founded in 1514. Havana once had the largest port in the region and its original walls still stand. You will also find Revolution Square, Colon Cemetery, and Las Terrazas de Cojimar. In Old Havana, one of the most popular parts of the city, is a blend of neoclassical and Baroque sites such as La Plaza de Armas and Catedral de San Cristóbal.

        Trinidad, located in the central province of Sancti Spíritus, was founded in the early 16th century in honor of the holy trinity. The city was also a launching point for the conquest to the American continent. Many of its buildings such as the Palacio Brunet were built during the 18th and 19th centuries during the height of the city’s sugar trade. Popular attractions are the Che Guavara Memorial, Tren Blindado, Iznaga Tower, and El Malecon. Many Americans know this city through the works of Ernest Hemingway who wrote about the fisherman’s bar, Las Terrazas de Cojimar, in The Old Man and The Sea.

       Last but not least, travelers often visit two of the most popular beaches in the world: Varadero and Santa Clara. Varadero was once frequented by Al Capone and has always been appealing to those with Champagne tastes. There you will find not only powdery beaches and beautiful blue water but also mansions turned into museums. This town is also a great place to explore the outdoors because of its many caves and forests. Santa Clara is also known for its powdery beaches and clear blue water but there you will also find Spanish architecture from the country’s colonial period. Both destinations are world renowned and should definitely be on anyone’s itinerary.     

       As Cuba and the US continue to warm relations, travel to Cuba will become even easier and popular. Many airlines like JetBlue and US Airways already have flights from Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and New York to Cuba. If you haven’t been on a vacation in a while then Cuba would be a great place to relax, sightsee, and rejuvenate your spirit. There are many more attractions and the experience will be life changing. Get out there and take advantage of this new opportunity to visit this absolutely wonderful place.