Stop one on our tour of Peru… Lima

Peru has become a ‘go-to’ travel destination for those interested in exploring the archeology of the Incan Civilization, the beauty of colonial churches or the one-of-a-kind natural wonders of the Andes. Peru has two official languages, Spanish and Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas. Although Spanish is dominant in Lima, Quechua is dominant in the Andes.

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To introduce these wonders of Peru, Condor Tours and Travel took a group of travel agents from Atlanta, Virginia and New York on a tour of some of the best of what Peru has to offer. We were hosted by Condor’s local partner, Condor Travel, which provided transportation and expert guides.

Most travelers enter Peru through Lima, a sprawling metropolis of 11 million that hugs the Pacific Ocean. Non-stop flights are available from Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Houston, as well as other US cities.

Our tour began at the Westin Convention Center located in the heart of the business district. IMG_4452 (4)The Westin offers a wonderful base for touring Lima, with luxurious rooms, an outstanding breakfast buffet and amenities expected from a top-tier hotel. There are other areas within Lima also with great hotels including the Miraflores area – home to the luxury hotel Belmond Miraflores and other properties from budget to luxury. The weather in Lima is virtually the same year around and they get little to no rain, so when traveling to Peru, the weather in Lima will not affect any of your plans. Other regions are affected by seasonal weather changes, so keep that in mind when planning your trip to maximize your time in Peru. If you are a foodie, Lima offers wonderful culinary experiences for you to explore.

Although modern, Lima’s winding streets offer hints of old world charm,
and parks that roll down to the Pacific. IMG_4468 (3)IMG_4465 (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our first day of touring, we headed south of the city to visit Pachamamac, a pre-Incan site begun around 200 A.D. that eventually became an important Incan gathering place. IMG_4518 (4)

An archeological wonder, the site was first excavated in the 1890s by German archeologist Max Uhle. It covers an expansive area in the shadow of the Sun Temple.IMG_4525 (4)
Tours begin in the museum at the entrance to the site.IMG_4486 (2) It provides an overview of the history of the temple and the expanding Incan civilization, explained in detail by Condor tour guide Cecil.

 

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The museum also houses artifacts from the site, ranging from delicate artwork, IMG_4508 (2)

to more utilitarian pottery. IMG_4515 (3)

Tour buses are able to roam throughout the site, stopping periodically to view the incredible architecture.IMG_4529 (4)

As noted on the tour, archeologists are still working the site uncovering and discovering more information to help understand the purpose of these ruins.

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One of the most complete structures is the ‘Chosen Women’ site.

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This structure housed those women who served the temple as ‘hand maidens,’ some of whom were consorts of priests and military leaders.

Lima is a wonderful blend of antiquity and modernism. One must-see area is the central square adjacent to the presidential palace and the Cathedral.IMG_4564 (4)

 

 

 

Extending from the square are pedestrian walkways filled with shops and restaurants.IMG_4586 (4)
While the buildings surrounding the square are magnificent, a true gem sits several blocks away–the Convento Santo Domingo de Lima.
Built in the 1580s, the church and convent were home to one of the three Catholic religious orders that vied for control of conversion in South America–the Dominicans, the Franciscans and the Jesuits. In many places, churches built by the three orders stand facing each other across squares.IMG_4593 (4)
The convent is built around a beautiful courtyard, lined with mosaics and statuary.
The serenity of the courtyard is a respite from the bustle of modern Lima.

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For a break, visit the Larcomar shopping center in the Miraflores district. IMG_4548 (4)This multi-level shopping mall hangs above the Pacific, offering stupendous views and wonderful restaurants.IMG_4553 (4)

 

 

 

 

To quench your thirst, you might want to try a pisco sour. Pisco is the national drink of Peru. IMG_4443 (3)It is a brandy distilled during the winemaking process, produced either from a single grape variety or a combination of grapes. The clear liquid is most often served in sours and chilchano (ginger ale, lemon juice and bitters), but can be drunk straight as an aperitif. Its taste is somewhere between tequila and gin. At 80 proof, it is powerful and can be especially overpowering when served at high altitudes!

The highlight of an evening in Lima is Circuito Magico del Agua (The Magic Water Circuit), a park with 13 spectacular fountains that come alive at night, capped off by a wonderfullight and sound show. IMG_5940 (7)IMG_5970 (3)This amazing park was transformed by the Lima municipal government in 2007, and is a must-see attraction. It is the Guinness Book record-holder as the largest fountain complex in the world. Be sure to attend after dark in order to appreciate the beauty of the lights and lasers.

It requires several days to experience all that Lima has to offer, and it is a great first stop in a tour of Peru. Even travelers going into the mountains should spend a few days at the coast. From the wonderful dining to all the history this large city has to offer, you will be glad you spent time here.

Consider adding a cooking class to learn how to make their amazing ceviche.

Aside from the traffic, Lima is culturally a wonderful experience. By the way, English is spoken by many, so language barriers can easily be overcome. Lima is the starting off point to experience the remainder of this amazing country. You can do a day or overnight trip to see the Nazca Lines while based in Lima, or of course, head to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Arequipa, Trulillo, or Lake Titicaca, as well as beach areas and Amazon experiences. For the more adventurous travelers – the Inka Trail and a trip to Rainbow Mountain would be worth it. The bio-diversity of Peru is limitless.

If you would like more information about the tours we offer to Peru, visit http://www.condortoursandtravel.com/ or email info@condortoursandtravel.com

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