Peru with take your breath away
Visit the famous land of the ancient Inca. Make your way through the many foot-pathed mountain trails and discover the true beauty of nature. From ruins dating back centuries, mummified leaders to the catacombs of San Francisco Church, Peru will keep you on your toes as you explore its wonders and treasures. It’s a country that will awaken your soul and enrich your senses.
Adventure on the Inca Trail
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and should be on every traveller’s bucket list. This is your chance to walk ancient paths and take in the picturesque scenery of the Andes Mountains. Doing the Inca Trail is a great idea to get a mixture of culture and the wonderful finds of the Sacred Valley. Famous the world over, the Inca Trail will test the enthusiastic hiker to their limits. A 40km 4-day hike, you will make your way through forests and up the mountain. It’s worth the trek for some soul searching, a time of endurance and something you will never regret as you complete the hike Machu Picchu.
The best time to do the Inca Trail is May through to September. If you are planning on doing the trail, make your reservations well in advance, particularly if you plan to visit during peak season. It’s also a good idea to arrive in Cusco at least two days before your hike to get use to the altitude.
Things to do in Peru
- Machu Picchu: Situated at the top of the Andes Mountains and above the Urubamba River Valley is an ancient city which dates back to the 15th century during the Inca Empire. The area is rich in fauna and flora and is a located in a truly beautiful setting. Almost forgotten, the area was rediscovered in the 20th The site has over 3,000 steps which link each level. The views from Machu Picchu are breath-taking and the ruins themselves are neat and you shouldn’t hesitate to visit this wonder of the world. Watching the sun set is a popular activity here for tourists. The hike to Machu Picchu is fairly easy. It’s an amazing experience, so don’t miss out. Busiest times to visit are June to August.
- Temple of the Sun (Machu Picchu): Only a priest and the Inca could enter the Temple of the Sun and this is also where important events were held such as sacred rituals or sacrifices. There is a sundial there which was used for daylight hours. The Terreon is a tower at the temple which is at the highest point of the city of Machu Picchu. Nowadays the temple is still not accessible to the public. It’s a good idea to take a guide with you to explain the site to you. Beneath the tower is a crypt which was used to house Inca mummies.
- Temple of Ollantaytambo: The town of Ollantaytambo was rebuilt in the 15th century and during this time it was first constructed as a temple for religious purposes and then a fortress. This is also where the Spanish lost a battle against the Inca. A major factor of their victory was that the Spanish couldn’t climb the fortress and they also couldn’t overcome the water channels below the fortress with their horses. The ruins are fantastic and the stonework is superb. You should spend at least a few hours here to take it all in. It’s recommended you get here early to avoid the crowds. You will get some great views of the valley and mountains.
- Pisac Inca Ruins: Situated in Pisac at the top of a hill are extraordinary ruins overlooking the Sacred Valley. The ruins you will find are a citadel, temples and ancient dwellings. The temple at the ruins is easy to access and well-marked. The hike is worth it for the brilliant views. It’s recommended you take a guide. Wear a good pair of hiking shoes as the path is a bit uneven. After your hike, visit the world renowned market in Pisac which is held daily – Sundays are the busiest. You will find anything from trinkets, ceramics and clothing at the market. Be prepared to bargain with the vendors.
- San Francisco Church and Convent: Located in Lima, this church is well preserved. The Baroque style church built in the 1600s has an impressive dome. In the courtyard of the church are hundreds of pigeons. You will be able to use the pigeons as a guide as you make your way to the church. The church also has an impressive library with over 25,000 religious texts. The main attraction of San Francisco Church is probably its catacombs. This was Lima’s first cemetery where approximately 25,000 people were buried. Walk through bone-lined tunnels beneath the church and look at a feature of bone and skulls set out in a circular design. Interesting to note is that the bodies were covered with limestone to hide the smell of their decomposition. Don’t miss this attraction when you are in Lima. English guided tours are available.
- Cusco Cathedral: Construction of the cathedral started in 1559 and took almost 100 years to complete. Cusco Cathedral houses impressive colonial art as well as a valuable collection of canvases from Cusco School. It’s also possibly one of the most beautiful monuments in South America. The Baroque style cathedral has magnificent towers and Andesite stone pillars. Many of the stones used for the outer walls of the cathedral come from the Inca site of Sacsaywamán. The choir stalls at the back of the centre nave are made of cedar wood and the main altar is carved from silver. Put this cathedral on your Peru itinerary.
- Museum of the Royal Tomb of Sipán: Located in Lambayeque, this museum is where you will find some of Peru’s magnificent pieces of history and its Moche people. Get to see tomb objects like ceramics, ornaments and earrings as well. The tombs were dug up in 1987, including the tomb of the Lord of Sipán. The museum also boasts artefacts like jewellery, precious stones, gold and silver. To see the mummy of Lord Sipán is amazing. Unfortunately photos are prohibited. A world class museum that is a must-visit. Take a tour guide with you to the museum.
- Qurikancha: Can you imagine these temple walls used to be covered in solid gold! Situated in Cusco, this temple was the most important temple of the Inca Empire and dedicated to the Sun god. The Spanish required a ransom for the Inca leader Atahualpa and the gold was removed from Qurikancha. The Spanish then built the Church of Santo Domingo where the temple once stood. The church is a mix of Inca stone and European architecture. You should definitely take a guided tour to help understand the site and its history.
- Kuelap Fortress: This is an awe-inspiring fortress will massive 60 meter towering walls and overlooks the Utcubamba Valley. The fortress is also one of the largest monuments of the Americas and comprised of dwellings and buildings used for military and religious purposes. Kuelap was the political centre of Chachapoya people, but the city fell when it was defeated by the Spanish. It’s a great archaeological site to visit and is not crowded with visitors. Add this item to your to-do list for sure.