Reasons for Visiting Peru

Peru has become in recent years the most popular destination in South America. There is no shortage of reasons: an impressive variety of ecosystems, breathtaking landscapes, beautiful cities full of history, culture, traditions, beaches, fauna, flora… and, of course, its delicious and famous gastronomy.

From the Amazon to the desert, from the high peaks of the Andes to the Pacific, passing through the valleys and high plateaus, the country enchants with its incredible contrasts. Although the reasons to visit the country are endless, we want to show you some compelling arguments for you to embark on the exciting adventure of discovering it.

Feeling Machu Picchu

Although it may be somewhat cliché, Machu Picchu alone justifies a trip to Peru. The ancient Inca citadel, discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and declared a World Heritage Site in 1983, is considered one of the ten wonders of the modern world. Located 2,500 meters above sea level, it offers an impressive panorama that invites reflection.

Accessing this sacred city, located 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco, on an interior plateau of the Amazon jungle, can become a real adventure. The Inca Trail can be traveled by train or on foot, on a route that lasts for several days, along cobblestone paths through mountains, forests, and rivers.

Enjoy its famous gastronomy!

Being considered the best culinary destination in the world, according to the World Travel Awards (WTA) -something like the Oscars of tourism- for five consecutive years has placed Peruvian cuisine in a place of honor in world gastronomy. The truth is that the award recognizes the quality and multiple variety of the local tradition, as diverse as the territory itself.

Beyond the restaurants of great chefs such as Virgilio Martínez -his restaurant, the Central, is the best in Latin America- or Gastón Acurio, who have given prestige to Peruvian cuisine, the truth is that in any corner we will find places where we can taste the local food.

Especially recommended are the huariques, homemade establishments where you can eat well at a good price. In Lima you will find many of them.

Visit its cities.

The country’s best-known city is Lima, one of the few Latin American capitals bathed by the sea. Its historic center, declared a World Heritage Site, has most of the historic buildings. The Plaza de Armas is undoubtedly the epicenter, with the main church, the municipal building, or the Government Palace.

It is worthwhile to go to the districts of Magdalena del Mar and Miraflores and enjoy its green spaces and the fantastic views of the Malecón, or the Parque del Amor, whose benches remind many of those in Barcelona’s Park Güell. Before leaving, the Parque de la Reserva awaits us with the Magic Water Circuit, which combines lights, music, and image in an original way.

If Lima is the best-known city, Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, is the most beautiful, with a Plaza de Armas surrounded by arcaded arcades, white facades, and wooden balconies, making it one of the most impressive corners of colonial America. Staying in one of the palaces of the city, located at an altitude of 3,400 meters -in the middle of the Andes- is a highly recommended pleasure.

Arequipa and Trujillo are two cities that also deserve our attention. The first, surrounded by volcanoes and known as the White City, resembles an Andalusian city, with its courtyards and friendly streets, reflecting the heritage of its Spanish past. The second, the City of Eternal Spring, boasts religious buildings, a university, and the ruins of the pre-Inca city of Chanchán.

Enjoy its natural parks.

Did you know that Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world? The truth is that its three regions – coast, highlands, and jungle – enjoy 90 microclimates that provide their territories with spectacular flora and fauna that, on many occasions, require special protection to preserve them from external threats.

Among these areas is the Huascarán National Park, which with its 16 snow-capped peaks over six thousand meters high, is one of the most emblematic protected areas, with numerous glaciers and lagoons. It is in the department of Ancash, in the south of the country, and is considered the highest tropical mountain range in the world. If you like sports, you will enjoy trekking, mountain biking, climbing, skiing, or fishing.

Quite different is the Cerros de Amotape National Park, to the north, the best-preserved area of dry equatorial forests in the entire Pacific region. Crossed by the Tumbes River, it is almost an oasis next to the coast of native vegetation, where American crocodiles, otters, and hundreds of bird species live.

Other Peruvian parks are the Cordillera Azul national park, between the Andes and the jungle, which enjoys special tourist protection, due to the delicacy of the groups that live there, and the Cutervo park, in the department of Cajamarca and in its lower areas, where the cloud forest predominates. The Cueva de los Guácharos (Cave of the Guácharos) is its main attraction, where speleology is often practiced.

For its part, the Manu Natural Park, located in the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios, is very popular with tourists who want to go deep into the jungle. It has a good ecotourism infrastructure and offers interesting tours to get to know the area and the indigenous communities that inhabit it.

Beyond the parks, Peru has numerous incredible corners, such as the Cotahuasi -the deepest gorge on the planet- and Colca canyons. In the latter we find the Cruz del Condor viewpoint, where many visitors wait attentively for the visit of the imposing bird.

You cannot miss Huacachina, an oasis in the Pacific coastal desert, located five kilometers west of Icla. Its emerald, green waters, lush vegetation, and beauty have made it a major tourist attraction known as the oasis of America.

Bathing in its beaches

The more than three thousand kilometers of Peruvian coastline allow you to enjoy countless places to swim. Among the best beaches is Punta Sal, one of the most attractive in the north of the country. The warm waters and the climate – it enjoys sunshine all year round – of this small beach, about an hour and a half from Tumbes, make it a paradise. Near Punta Sal, we find Zorritos, a paradisiacal beach with a small fishing village.

Surf lovers have in Mancora and Pimentel, the latter about 20 minutes from Chiclayo, two of the beaches where you can enjoy the best waves.

On the coast of Arequipa, Mejia beach, in a picturesque locality, stands out for its great beauty, its vegetation and the numerous birds.

Sighting the Nazca lines

The Nazca lines are one of the great archaeological enigmas of recent times. They are geoglyphs drawn on the desert floor of the same name between 200 BC and 600 AD. The geometric, animal, and human figures, declared a World Heritage Site, occupy an area of 450 km2 and are only visible from the air.

If you travel to the area, it is advisable to see them from a small plane. The flights, which can last between 30 and 90 minutes, are reasonably priced and the experience is priceless.

Buy their handicrafts.

It is not possible to travel to Peru and not come back loaded with handicrafts. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best places on the continent to buy handmade products, since the ancestral culture is very present and traditional techniques are still used.

The chullo, the typical brightly colored hat woven in alpaca and other fibers, has become an icon and one of the favorite garments for travelers visiting Peru. Handmade, handcrafted, with dark circles under the eyes and originating in the Andean region, it provides protection from the cold and wind. Likewise, alpaca gloves and ponchos are also usually purchased, which are very soft and light.

Equally interesting is to get hold of other textile products such as scarves or rugs, especially from the area of the Sacred Valley, near Cuzco. They are made with wool from local sheep that are dyed and woven by hand.

Silver jewelry objects, such as earrings or Andean crosses, are other great typical souvenirs, along with ceramics and terracotta -vases, figurines, and vessels- and brass carnival masks.

It is best to buy in local markets, since doing so in city centers like Lima is usually substantially more expensive. When doing so, remember bargaining is a must!