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Travel Guide: Peru Highlights

12th Oct 2011 1:57am | By Editor

Visit ancient Inca ruins and surf long waves.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, ‘Hidden River’, ‘The Hanging Village’, ‘Forever Young’. Straight out of Raiders Of The Lost Ark or a Tolkien novel, the names of landmarks on the trail to Machu Picchu seem specifically designed to increase the suspense. Many believe the trail was a deliberate work of art designed ‘to elevate the soul of the pilgrim’ on the way to the lost city of the Incas. Few who have walked it would deny that this remains deservedly one of the world’s greatest treks.

Inca ruins

Base yourself in Cusco to set off on the Inca Trail or explore the many nearby remnants of the ancient people of Peru, the Incas. Take a tour around the Inca ruins on a horse, though try not to be given one that looks half dead from years of carrying people around the sites. The temple of Sacsayhuaman (some call it sexywoman) is well worth the visit with its huge fortress walls. It is where the annual Inti Raymi sun festival is held.

Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia

The highest navigable lake in the world stretches in a great inland sea, 110 miles long, between two Andean countries. Culturally it is one of the world’s most fascinating areas. The Uru people still live on the man-made islands of lashed-together reed beds on which they once escaped the attentions of the conquistadors.

Jungle-bashing

The emerald forest of Manu Park in Peru has been described as the jewel in the Amazon crown. It is one of the most pristine, yet easily accessible, regions of the Amazon basin. Even in this incredible natural region, Manu is unequalled in its number of resident species. Iquitos is a major hub for jungle tours.

Surfing

Peru's Pacific coast generates some top waves for surfers. Its barren and dry coastline may seem like a different world to the interior jungles and mountain regions, but the laid back vibe and long stretches of sandy beaches are a must to visit if you're into surfing. Among the most famous breaks are Chicama on the north coast, as well as Cabo Blanco. Pacasmayo is a cute town to hang out with a few great bars/discotecas and boasts a long right hand point. While Mancora is the most trendiest and popular surf town on the north coast. Some of the best beaches south of Lima are Punta Hermosa, Punta Roca and Pico Alto

Nazcar Lines

In south Peru, you can fly over the dry land to see the amazing Nazcar Lines, large intricate symbols of animal figures and geometric shapes. Their origin remains a mystery but there are theories that they were an agricultural calendar or ancient sacred paths.

Wildlife

You won't leave Peru without buying something made out of alpaca wool – and you won't go far without seeing llamas and alpacas out in their mountainous Andean environment. As well as plenty of goats and donkeys, Peru boasts a vast array of birdlife, including flamingoes, herons and the Guanay cormorant. If you're lucky you may see a puma. Worshipped by the Incas, these mountain cats are found in the remote high-altitude regions of Peru.