Home to some of the most ancient civilizations on earth, as well as some of its most diverse ecosystems, Peru is a prime destination for tourists from around the world. Peru’s multi-ethnic population includes Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. As a result of this cultural mixing, there is a diverse array of architecture, cuisine, literature, art, and music. Located in western South America, Peru’s terrain ranges from coastal valleys to deserts, mountains, and humid jungles. If you enjoy a good plate of mashed potatoes, you can thank the ancient Peruvians, since the potato is indigenous to Peru.
The crown jewel of Peru is, of course, the world famous citadel of Machu Picchu, followed closely by the famed Nazca Lines, ancient glyphs carved into the floor of the Nazca desert. However, there is so much more to see and do in Peru; an adventure awaits around every corner! Perhaps you are interested in an eco-tour of the threatened Amazon rainforest? The highly skilled staff at Condor Tours & Travel can help plan your eco-vacation. The Amazon is one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet and it is full of a wealth of rare plants and animals found nowhere else, many of which have been discovered to have medically valuable properties. Once done with your trip to the Amazon, you might want to explore Paracas and the Ballestas Islands along with the Nazca Lines mentioned above. The Ballestas are a group of small rocky islands near the town of Paracas off the south coast of Peru. These islands are an important marine sanctuary for animals such as the guano bird, blue-footed booby, and the Humboldt Penguin. Fur seals and sea lions are also commonly spotted here and often like to approach tourist boats and make a spectacle of themselves.
Another hotspot for biodiversity is in the Arequipa region of southern Peru. The city of Arequipa is a cosmopolitan center and the second largest city in Peru. The terrain of the region is very diverse, ranging from small plateaus and desert dunes along the coast to mid and high level plateaus cut with deep canyons, and finally, snowcapped peaks in the interior. Beautiful beaches can be found in the coastal provinces of Caraveli, Camana, and Islay. The famed Colca Canyon in Caylloma is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. Colca Canyon is home to many rare bird and plant species such as the giant hummingbird. It is also known for its ancient rock art and natural hot springs as well as its indigenous arts and crafts.
At an altitude of more than 12,000 feet above sea level lies Lake Titicaca, located on the border between Bolivia and Peru. Lake Titicaca is home to more than 500 aquatic species and is rich in marine and bird life. In the surrounding areas one can also find enigmatic ruins left behind by the ancient peoples who have inhabited the area for millennia. One of the more famous elements of Lake Titicaca are the “Floating Islands” of the Uros people. These man-made islands are creating by cutting and stacking the totora reed which grows abundantly in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. According to legend, the Uros originally migrated in Pre-Columbian times to this region and were oppressed and denied land to live on by their neighbors. In response, they created these floating, reed islands to move out into the deeper waters of the lake and escape their hostile neighbors on land.
Machu Picchu: Timeless City of the Inca
Located in the lower reaches of the Andes Mountains in Peru, the fabled lost city of Machu Picchu represents the most iconic surviving remnant of the ancient Inca Empire. Machu Picchu is believed to have been constructed as a royal estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti (1438-1472). The population of the citadel never numbered much more than 750 and these were primarily servants and attendants who were there to cater to the needs of the Emperor. It is thought that most of the inhabitants perished in a small pox epidemic around the time of the Spanish Conquest and that the site was abandoned shortly thereafter. Although known locally for centuries, Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spanish conquistadores and therefore remained largely untouched and un-plundered, a spectacular example of the genius and ingenuity of the Inca. The site was first made known to the wider world by the American explorer and historian, Hiram Bingham, as a result of a 1911 expedition to the region.
Sitting atop a mountain ridge, Machu Picchu is divided into an upper and lower town. Most of the chief archeological treasures are in the upper town such as the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. These buildings are dedicated to the Inca sun goddess Inti. The lower town consists mainly of warehouses and storage facilities. The major buildings of the citadel are built in a classic Inca style known as ashlar. Ashlar construction involves the cutting and moving of huge blocks of stone and placing them together without the aid of mortar. This technique is so challenging, that over the years there has been much wild speculation about the involvement of aliens, giants, or paranormal entities in the construction process!
Are you a person who thirsts for adventure? Do you enjoy the thrill of seeing ancient ruins and exploring fabulous lost cities? If so, a visit to Machu Picchu might be just the thing for you! Machu Picchu is the most famous tourist destination in Peru and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World in an online poll. The period from April – October is the best time of year for visiting Machu Picchu, and also the time when it is most likely to appear as it does in the travel brochures. Make sure you bring a variety of clothing as temperatures can vary from the 70’s in the afternoon to near freezing in the early morning. Finally and most importantly, let the experts at Condor Tours & Travel plan your exotic Peruvian vacation. We have the knowledge and ability to make sure you have a great time! Machu Picchu is obviously Peru’s crown jewel.
Your Peruvian adventure awaits! Come see the experts at Condor Tours & Travel so that we can help you plan the vacation of a lifetime!