Peru! You have to see it to believe it, to open your eyes and all of a sudden awaken in Machu Picchu, magical city, that has just been internationally voted as one the new Seven Wonders of the World. It is a dream come true that every living soul should experience, along with planting a tree, writing a book, and having a child… visit Machu Picchu (and discover Peru).
Heir to ancient cultures and a rich colonial tradition, Perú is a magical spot which involves one of the richest biodiversities of Earth, and is a melting pot of different cultures who together are forging the promise of a better future
While Peru inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu and the Inca empire, the country is also riddled with archaeological sites which are a legacy of even more ancient times, when great civilizations bequeathed a legacy of their art, customs and rituals, their wisdom and skills.
The Inca empire was a recent arrival during the process of cultural development in the Andes during the pre-Hispanic era, and the history of the Incas barely accounts for a century within the 20,000 years of human occupation of Peruvian territory.
Much earlier than the Incas and while civilizations like the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese (3000 and 2000 B.C.) flourished, the city of Caral, located north of the city of Lima, was built; this was the first American expression of a Pre-Ceramic urban settlement with monumental architecture in an area greater than 10 hectares. Later, in the northern highlands, the Chavin (800 – 200 B.C.) achieved significant advances in architecture, engineering, and agriculture.
The Chavín civilization (1500-400 BC) achieved considerable prowess in architecture, engineering and agriculture in the northern highlands. Along the north coast, the Moche civilization (200 BC-700 AD) is famous for its realistic pottery (portraits carved into pots and gourds) and its pyramid-shaped temples. The same area was later controlled by the Chimú kingdom (900-1450 AD), who built Chan Chan, an immense mud-brick citadel featuring 12-meter-high walls and superb architectural work.
To the south, the Nazca people (200 BC-900 AD) etched an impressive series of figures etched into the desert floor known as the Nazca Lines, while graves belonging to the Paracas culture (800 BC-600 AD) have unearthed superb weavings which point to the magical and religious vision that governed the lives of this ancient civilization.
Centuries later, the Incas (1300-1500 AD) were to make Cuzco the center of their empire, building major constructions such as Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Koricancha. It is here that myth and history merge, where the Inca roads, the towns, people and traditions are a living example of the Andean spirit, sacred and monumental.
Discover why Peru is for many the heart of South America’s greatest civilizations.
After the Himalayas, the Andes are the highest mountains in the world. One of those mountains is Mount Huascarán, located in the White Range, which happens to be the highest mountain found anywhere in the tropics. Along with this record breaking mountain are dozens of others that surpass 5,000 masl (16,400 fasl). The Peruvian Andes feature mountains of different technical diffi culty levels – from high to medium to easy – as well as the chance to make fi rst assaults and to open new climbing routes.
The Peruvian Andes provide an incomparable spot for mountaineering and make Peru a magnet for lovers of South American mountains. There are many reasons: a unique concentration of mountains and relatively few mountain climbers; mild weather almost all year-long, and relatively easy access to sites that are nevertheless cut off from hectic city life. It is an ideal combination that makes Peru one of the most attractive destinations for mountaineers worldwide.
Although the lowest summit of the Huascarán massif, the world’s highest tropical mountain, was first climbed in 1 908 by US climbers Annie Peck and two Swiss guides, mountain climbing in the Andes only took off in Peru in the early 1 930s thanks to the pioneering European expeditions that launched the great Andean travel adventure in search of new climbing challenges.
Since the 1 932 expedition led by Austrian climbers Borchers, Schneider and Kinzl reached the southern summit of Mount Huascarán (6 768 masl) -Peru’s highest-, Peru’s peaks have been the scene of many more spectacular ascents.
To see Peru´s Adventures click here Part of the attraction to mountain biking through Peru is the opportunity to discover ancient Incan and pre-Incan trails, visit archeological sites and picturesque villages, as well as to ride through different ecological tiers in just a few hours. There is one route, starting in the town of Olleros, south of Lima, where you can descend 3,600 meters (11,808 feet) in a ride that is just 70 kilometers (113 miles) long.
Mountain biking is the fastest-growing sport in the country. Thousands of bikers year-round head out on their bicycles down canyons and up trails all over the country.
Practically the entire country, with the exception of the coastal desert and the Amazon plain, is apt for mountain biking. However, depending on the degree of difficulty and logistical needs, circuits are divided into three categories: A) Beginners: gently sloping routes, with tough, compact terrain; B) Experienced cyclists: circuits involving moderate slopes and a certain degree of risk for the cyclist; C) Experts only: steep slopes, high altitudes and uneven, scree-like terrain, with a high degree of risk. So get on your bike… and explore Peru.
The Peruvian coastline is bathed by Pacific waves all year long. If you go north, the best surfi ng beaches are Cabo Blanco, Máncora, Lobitos, Chicama – which is famous for having the longest left hand wave in the world – Huanchaco, Pacasmayo, and Los Órganos..
Although few people are aware of this fact, it was in ancient Peru, and not in Polynesia or the South Sea Islands that the first evidence was found of men riding the waves with the help of external aids, as found on textiles and pottery dating back to pre-Hispanic civilizations.
This art, believed to date back at least 2 000 years in Peru, is still practiced by fishermen in northern fishing villages such as Huanchaco, Santa Rosa and Pimentel, where fishermen venture out onto the waves on totora reed rafts during their daily fishing trips.
The Maui surfboard made its debut on the Peruvian coast in 1 942. Since then, surfing has gathered enough fans as to become one of the most widely practiced sports around. The waves off the Peruvian coast are well-known all over the world and some of the best breakers -such as Punta Rocas south of Lima or Cabo Blanco to the north- are part of the surfing world championship circuit.
Peru has ideal beaches that will satisfy the most demanding surfer all year round: the central coast features constant waves during winter (April to September), while the north coast sees heavy seas (or “crecidas”) between October and March. At the same time, as there are only 12 000 surfers in Peru, compared to 700 000 in Brazil for example, one can always find empty beaches and perfect waves in Peru. All surfers have to do, is choose their favorite point.
To trek Peru is to journey through incredibly beautiful Andean countryside with a backdrop of everlastingly white mountains and crystal clear lakes, to walk along the Qapac Ñan (Inca Trail), that network of roads built by the Incas to unite their empire, and to see the culture of communities that adorn the pathways. There are trekking routes that take you on adventures through the White and Huayhuash Ranges in Áncash as well as many others in the department of Cusco that will lead you to Machu Picchu.
Peru is a veritable paradise for hikers. Practically the entire highland spine of the country, including valleys, plains and massifs feature trekking circuits varying in degrees of difficulty.
Only a handful of these circuits have been commercially “discovered” as trekking routes. The rest remain relatively unexplored, awaiting all those who wish to retrace the magical roads through the Peruvian Andes, with its extraordinary network of pre-Colombian trails and more than 12,000 lakes. It is a land which features the world’s deepest canyons, glaciers and snow-capped peaks, forests and thundering waterfalls, picturesque villages and above all, the most hospitable people imaginable.
Some trails are so steep they lead into breath-taking gorges, zig-zagging through the mountains, others straight as an arrow, fading into the distant desert horizon; hidden and invisible amongst the thick undergrowth of the Amazon jungle.
The trails of Peru offer endless possibilities, and many ideal combinations for hikers of all levels of experience.
The Peruvian Andes and their plunging canyons turn this country into a magnifi cent stage for rafting and kayaking. The most renowned rivers are the Apurímac in Apurímac (class II and V), the Cotahuasi in Arequipa (class V), and the Tambopata in the jungle. For kayaking, the best place is Lake Titicaca (Puno), the highest navigable lake in the world.
Peru features more than a dozen rivers that are more than 600 km long. The five largest rivers alone total 7,000 km within Peru.
Polish adventurer Yurek Majcherzyck and his friends introduced rafting into Peru, and after several attempts, managed to paddle down the thundering Colca River and its 300 rapids in the heart of Arequipa. Ever since then, a group of Peruvian rafting enthusiasts have made major efforts to open up new routes around the country.
The sport depends on rubber rafts which are powered by paddles and generally steered by the helmsman through the foaming rapids.
Internationally, rapids are qualified on a scale of I to VI according to the degree of difficulty (Class VI rapids are impossible to run, and portage is necessary).
Free flight lovers will feel overjoyed by what they can do in Peru. The Sacred Valley of the Incas (Cusco) provides fl yers the experience of soaring over Incan ruins, and, in the Huaylas Valley of Áncash, they can fl oat on winds that blow between towering mountains. Likewise, along the Costa Verde boardwalk in Lima, you can fl y above the ocean waves and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city.
There are two main types of apparatus used by those fond of flying: flying mechanisms that use the aerodynamics of wings in order to fly; and the classic parachute, which simply drops. Paragliding and hang gliding share a structure made of a cloth or synthetic fiber which moves with the winds. The difference stems from the fact the paraglider is not rigid, while the hang glider is.
Hang gliding was born from an unsuccessful model developed by NASA to improve aerospace rescue parachutes, something which caught on amongst those with a penchant for flying. The first hang glider was brought to Peru in the 1 970s. Paragliding, meanwhile, did not take off in Peru until the early 1 990s. Its origins date back to Savoie in France, where persevering sportsmen modified the classic parachute until they came up with others split up into cells, allowing for a longer flight with more room for maneuver. The concept has since improved, to the stage that today flyers can glide for 10 km for each 1 000 meters they drop.
Once up in the air, sportsmen tackle two kinds of currents: ascending, which are divided up into thermal (columns of warm air generated by the heating up of refractory surfaces) and orographic (which are created when air rebounds off a cliff or similar obstacle); and descending, similar to pockets of air that produce turbulence for jet airplanes. Choose your best option… and head for the vertigo.