Lima was founded in 1535 and for a short period of time it was the most important city in the Americas. Today Lima holds more than nine million inhabitants and is a true cosmopolite city. In the historic centre, on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, you can see splendid samples of colonial architecture like the Cathedral, the Convent of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the amazing wood carven balconies. There is plenty of culture in Lima, demonstrated by the existence of numerous museums like the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History and the Rafael Larco Herrera Archeological Museum, which guards priceless Inca and pre-Inca treasures.
In Miraflores you can find the great archeological monument of Huaca Pucllana and south of Lima by the ocean is the most important pre-Inca sanctuary on the coast, Pachacamac, built in the 3rd century A.C. In the summer there are plenty of nice beaches along the coast where you can do all types of aquatic sports. Lima is the gastronomical capital of the Americas and there are plenty of world-class restaurants in the city.
Activities: Lima city tour, museums, hang-gliding, Caral, Palomino islands, restaurants, beaches, etc.
Some of the most important civilizations of ancient Peru established themselves in the Inca region such as the Paracas and the Nazca cultures, which left a legacy that has endured the passage of time and the violence of the wind and the sand.
The Paracas National Reserve is a natural reserve that apart from its beaches and beautiful rock formations also is the refuge for seals, otters, penguins, dolphins and more than two hundred species of birds. From here you can also visit the Ballestas Islands by boat and see its great wildlife of birds and sea lions, etc.
Close to Ica you find various vineyards where wine and pisco are produced, the Huacachina oasis where you can do sand boarding and go with boogie-car over the sand dunes, and Chincha, the valley that gave birth to the Afro-Peruvian music.
Activities: Paracas National Reserve tour, Ballestas Islands tour, Vineyard tour, sandboarding and boogie-car in Huacachina, etc.
Nazca is mostly famous for the Nazca Lines, one of the greatest archeological mysteries of the world. UNSECO places this wonder on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1994. The figures are formed by a series of lines and gigantic drawings traced upon the sand and represent a spider, a hummingbird, a monkey, etc. and can only be truly appreciated flying above them. Another highlight of the area is the Cantalloc Aqueduct that was built by the Nazca culture and still works today.
Activities: flight over the Nazca lines, Cantalloc Aqueduct, etc.
Arequipa, also known as the "White City" for its beautiful white walls of volcanic stone, lies at the feet of the mighty volcanoes of Mount Misti, Mount Chachani, and Mount Pichu Pichu. The downtown of Arequipa is placed on the World Cultural Heritage list by UNSECO and features many baroque churches and mansions from the colonial period, as well as the great Monastery of Santa Catalina, a Spanish city in miniature with beautiful patios, stone streets and plazas. The Arequipa cuisine is a great addition to the beauty of the city. In Arequipa there are many types of adventure sports such as trekking, white water rafting and mountain biking.
A few hours away from Arequipa are the magical Colca Valley and Canyon. The Colca Valley is packed of colorful pre-Incan agricultural terraces still being used for growing corn, barley, and wheat. The Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world, deeper that the Grand Canyon and at the Cross of the Condor you can see the majestic flight of the condors and at the same time stare down on the Colca River, 3400 meters down in the Canyon.
Activities: Arequipa city tour, Colca Canyon tour, trekking, mountain biking, river rafting, restaurants, etc.
Puno is the folklore capital of Peru and lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. It was the territory of the Tiahuanacos (800 A.C. – 1200 A.C.) who were the highest cultural expression of the Aymare people that established themselves in what is today Bolivia and Peru. In the 15th century the Incas took over the territory and the Spanish, attracted by the mining industry developed there, left an important colonial legacy in the area.
Lake Titicaca contains numerous islands whose inhabitants continue to live as their ancestors have for centuries as far as customs and traditions. The Urus people live on floating islands that they have artificially made entirely out of totora reeds, their traditional boats are also made of these reeds. Taquile and Amantaní are other islands famous for their beauty, the kindness of their inhabitants and their ancestral skills in weaving.
Close to Puno are the spectacular Chullpas de Sillustani; a complex of impressive burial towers, Juli; famous for its beautiful colonial churches, Llachón; a community that maintain their old customs and cultural expressions, Lampa; with its vice royal church built between 1675 and 1685 and Pucará; known for its pre-Inca pottery.
Activities: Lake Titicaca tour, kayaking, Sillustani Towers, etc.
Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, was included on UNESCO´s World Cultural Heritage List in 1983 and is one of the most important destinations in Peru. There are plenty of beautiful Inca buildings among the cobble-stoned streets of Cusco like the Koricancha and the palace of Inca Roca. There are also baroque structures from the colonial period like the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and the Church Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus. San Blas is a picturesque neighborhood with many artisan workshops and throughout Cusco there are many nice cafés, restaurants and bars. Outside of Cusco you can find the great Sacsayhuamán fortress as well as the archeological Inca sites of Qengo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay.
In the Sacred Valley of the Incas you find the towns of Písac, Maras, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo. These are famous for their traditional markets and their impressive archeological complexes. From Ollantaytambo and Cuzco it is possible to take the train to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Another way to get there is to take the Inca Trail, a four day trek where you arrive to Machu Picchu on the morning on the fourth day. This is one of the most famous treks in the world thanks to the beautiful landscapes and the amazing ruins scattered on the trek.
Machu Picchu, the most important and beautiful legacy of the Incas, is located high on top of a mountain with stunning views over the surrounding landscapes. It is listed on both the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Lists by UNESCO. This magical place is the main reason why many people come to Peru. Its importance, beauty and mysticism make it one of the most important destinations of the world.
Activities: Cuzco city tour, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu tour, Sacred Valley tour, Mountain bike tour in Moray and Moras, river rafting in the Sacred Valley, etc.
The Tambopata National Park is known to possess among the greatest diversity of mammal, insects and bird species in the world and also the world record for the amount of butterflies. Scientists have already registered 632 bird species, 1200 butterfly species, 169 mammal species, 205 fish species, 103 amphibian species and 67 reptile species. The vegetation is that of typical tropical rainforest. This is the most popular destination for tourists wishing to explore the rainforest in Peru.
Activities: Jungle lodge programs.
The Manu National Park is the heart of the Manu Biosphere Reserve that was declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. It has a great variety of animal species; more than 800 bird species, 200 mammal species, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, the giant otter, the jaguar, the Andean deer, etc. This is the park that holds the world record for the number of bird species seen in one day at one spot with 324 species. There are around 30 Quechan speaking farming communities spread out in the National Park as well as numerous Amazonian native communities.
Activities: Jungle lodge programs.
Trujillo is known as the city of eternal spring because of its blessed climate and festive atmosphere. This area was inhabited by two important ancient Peruvian civilizations; the Mochica and the Chimú and later it became an important vice royal city. The most famous attractions are Chan Chan and the Pyramid of the Sun and Moon.
Chan Chan is the largest mud city in the Americas and the ancient capital of the Chimú culture. UNESCO included it on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1986. Archeologists estimate that it was the home for over a hundred thousand people. Plazas, warehouses, workshops, houses, streets, walls and pyramid temples are all clearly defined in its structure and the enormous walls are decorated with reliefs of geometric figures.
The pyramid of the Sun was the political-administrative center and the Pyramid of the Moon the ceremonial center. The urban area between the two is composed of houses, avenues, alleys, corridors, and squares. These components confirm the high level of religious, economical, political and social organization of the Moches.
Huanchaco is famous for the traditional rafts called the "little horses of totora reeds" that have been used by the fisherman on the north coast of Peru since pre-Columbian times, and are still being used. It is also one of the most popular beaches along the coast of Peru for surfers and it is famous for its fresh fish and seafood.
Activities: Trujillo city tour, Chan Chan, Pyramid of the Sun and Moon, Huanchaco, etc.
Huaraz enjoys a fabulous setting by the foot of the Cordillera Blanca. The city is surrounded by 20 snowcapped peaks, each higher than 6,000m. It is a very beautiful and picturesque city that has become an adventure center for people wanting to do treks and climbs in the area. Huaraz is also close to the great archeological complex of Chavín de Huantar.
Chavin de Huantar was built around 1200-900 B.C. and was discovered in 1919. It was included on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1985. The Complex includes ceremonial rooms and pyramidal structures built of massive stone blocks. The site served as a very important ceremonial center for the Chavín culture.
Activities: trekking, climbing, mountain biking, Chavin de Huantar, Llanganuco, Pastoruri, hot springs, etc.
Iquitos is the main port city of the Amazon River and the largest city in the Peruvian jungle. It experienced its great economic boom at the end of the 19th century when the rubber industry expanded. There are many jungle lodges in the area and also Amazon River cruises for tourists. The Pacay-Samiria National Reserve is the largest reserve in Peru and it is located only 183 km from Iquitos, here there are many animal species in danger of extinction like the charapa river turtle, the giant river otter, the black caiman and the river dolphin.
Activities: jungle lodges, Amazon River Cruises, Iquitos city tour, etc.
Mancora is considered to be one of the most important beach resorts on the Peruvian coast thanks to the warm and radiant weather. The waves make it perfect for surfing and body boarding. There are plenty of hotels, hostels, surf shops, handicraft stores and restaurants.
Activities: beaches, surfing, pools, horseback-riding, boogie-cars, etc.