The very first thing a Peruvian taxi driver is likely to ask you is: “What do you think about our food?” Peruvian are proud of their food, and rightfully so. From the simplicity of ceviche to the confluence of flavors in lomo saltado, this South America country servers up lots of tasty treats. Peru’s geography and history are largely responsible for its diverse cuisine. The country is divided into three distinct regions: coast, mountains, and jungle. Each area has a different ecosystem where different plants and animals thrive, making Peru a land of great diversity. The history of ancient cultures, colonial influences, and waves of immigration have also added unique blends and flavors to local dishes.
Mastering Machu Picchu
By far the most famous landmark in Peru is Machu Picchu. Tours of Machu Picchu take visitors on a magical train journey through the Sacred Valley and to the foot of the mountain containing the ruins. Machu Picchu itself clings to the side of the mountain, equally impressive for its stunning location as well as for the intricate architecture mastered by its Incan builders. Because Machu Picchu is located near so many other Peruvian highlights, many visitors choose to take a Machu Picchu tour that includes a visit to Cuzco as well as the Sacred Valley.
Walking on Floating Islands
Lake Titicaca is the second largest lake in Peru and the highest navigable lake in the world. But what makes it so interesting are the people who live in and actually on it. Thousands of years ago, ancient cultures escaped aggressive neighbors by building floating raft islands upon which they built houses, gardens, and eventually their entire civilization. The islands are woven by hand from water reeds, and are continuously being replaced and repaired. Today travelers can choose a standard boat tour or opt for something more adventurous, like a homestay or kayaking trip.
Being Cultured in Cuzco
Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire and today is one of the most dynamic and beautiful cities in Peru. Because it is a tourist hub for travelers heading to Machu Picchu, the bohemian atmosphere and mix of modern and traditional isn’t for everyone, but it is certainly a must see. Cuzco is the best place to experience the union of ancient culture with colonial imperialism, as most buildings here are a blend of both. Cuzco is also in the heart of the Sacred Valley, making treks and expeditions easily accessible.
Delving into the Amazon
More than half of Peru is covered by the Amazon Rainforest, and it is a shame many visitors overlook this remarkable region. The Amazon River runs through the north of Peru and is best accessed from the jungle town of Iquitos, while Puerto Maldonado in the south is only a 40 minute flight from Cuzco, making it the most convenient option for most travelers. Regardless of where you visit, the Amazon always offers great diversity of flora and fauna and impresses with its sheer immensity. If roughing it with the wildlife doesn’t appeal to you, consider taking a tour which can take you to the Amazon via the comfort of a cruise or luxury lodge.