Let’s go to Peru!
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It is so easy to travel to Peru: you don’t even need a visa, just pack your passport (make sure its still valid in 6 months from when you travel!) and suitcase! It’s only 7 hours away by plane from New York and 5 hours from Miami. From the US, there are at least 16 daily direct flights from cities likeNew York,Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas,Atlanta, Miami and Fort Lauderdaleto Lima.
Voted “Best Airport in South America” for many years, Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) is the main gate to Peru and its fascinating cities. Once you arrive at the Lima airport, allcities in Peru are less than onehourand a halfaway by plane. Peru is much closer than you think.
There are 5 citiesin Peru which can be considered the key hubs for tourism activities:
- Lima: City of Kings
- Arequipa: The Lion of the South
- Cuzco: The Imperial City
- Trujillo: Spring City
- Iquitos: The Amazon City
Lima: City of Kings
The capital of Peru, home to 10M people,is the only capital city in South America located in front of the Pacific Ocean. Its historic city center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO while the city architecture blends modern buildings, commercial areas and new suburbs with its colonial past. You can find spectacular archaeological sites, beaches, valleys and even the Andes, all within a few hours drive. Lima’s gastronomy scene includes 3 restaurants from ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurant’ List.
Tourism Services: Lima has been nominated as the top culinary destination in South America for six consecutive years. The three Lima-based restaurants placed on ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” 2018 are: Central (number 6), Maido (number 7) and Astrid & Gaston (number 39), along with 6 other restaurants placed on “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant” 2018 list. But there are thousands of restaurants in Lima worth while, including the chifas (Chinese inspired restaurants) and the street food and sandwiches.
The hotel infrastructure in Lima goes from packers’ lodging to five star hotels, having also international brands like Hilton, Marriott, W, Aloft and Belmont, all the comfort a traveler looks for in a variety of prices. There are many tourism services, guides in English and other languages, and special tours according to specific interests of the visitors. Lima also offers first quality medical services, and some tourists are combining their stays with some dental or plastic surgery procedures (which cost at least 5 times less than in Manhattan).
The Royal Past: The colonial past has left splendid architecture with many palaces and churches, and the typical balconies. Lima has a very interesting list of museums, like the Museo de la Nación, Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú -the oldest in Peru, Gold Museum, Larco Museum, Amano, etc. Some neighboring sites include Caral: The oldest civilization in South America, Cajamarquilla, Puruchuco, Pachacamac, Paracas, Chincha and the famous Nazca lines south of Lima.
Special attractions: Different sports can be practiced in Lima and its surroundings such as surfing, paragliding, rafting, hiking, fishing, cycling, horseback riding, etc. For those activities, it is important to explain that the weather in Lima is moderate all year round, with winter having its coolest temperature of just 55F in July and August, while the warmest month is February, reaching around 90F.
Arequipa: The Lion of the South
Arequipa is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a city with an important historical legacy that captivates travelers through its surprising architecture made of sillar, a volcanic white stone. For this reason, Arequipa is known as the “White City”; it was also called “The Lion of the South”, in reference to the many uprisings carried out from there in the eighteen hundreds.
The Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena is a now an interesting museum full of religious art. The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is located in the Main Square or Plaza de Armas and very close to it is the Church of The Company, a small baroque church noted for its elaborate carved facade and an interior chapel with jungle motifs.
Tourism Services:The city is also filed with extraordinary good restaurants, being the cuisine of Arequipa one of the best regional gastronomies in Peru. One of their key ingredients is a red spicy pepper called Rocoto and the Chupe de Camarones or Shrimp Chowder is a must.
Arequipa offers many hotels options and splendid adventure attractions, like the Colca Canyon with 3,400 mt, twice depth than the Grand Canyon where rafting can be practiced by adventurers. Another important canyon is Cotahuasi the also called ‘The Canyon of the wonders’ that is even deeper than the Colca Canyon, as it reaches, according to approximations, 3,535 meters deep.
Cusco: the Imperial City
Cusco is the most important city for tourism in Peru. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the capital of the Incan empire. surrounded with the tradition of Inca remains in almost every corner of the city and gorgeous colonial architecture of the churches and palaces
Cusco is an enchanting city that combines its archaeological sites and Spanish colonial architecture. The Plaza de Armas is the main square in the old city, with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall. The baroque Santo Domingo Convent was built on top of the Incan Temple of the Sun (Koricancha) and has archaeological site of Inca stonework becoming an example of the extraordinary combination between Inca’s civilization and Spanish culture.
Tourism Services: Cusco offers all kinds of services combining the modernity of world class accommodation, exquisite dining and fine service. The hotel infrastructure offers accommodation from packers to first quality five stars hotels, including international chains such as Belmond Monasterio, Marriot, Sonesta, Novotel, Palacio del Inka, Aranwa, etc.
Cusco acts as the main gate to Machu Picchu and other important archaeological sites such as Choquequirao, Sacsayhuaman, Pisac, Moray, Ollantaytambo, etc., and natural attractions like Vinicunca or the rainbow mountains. From Cusco to Machu Picchu, there are trains for all kind of budgets, from tourist class to luxury, the Hiram Bingham Belmond train can take you there. For those adventurers, the Incas’ trail is one of the best recommendations that can be done, whether it is in one day or 4 days to arrive at Machu Picchu and camping overnight on the treks. Full day excursions to Sacred Valley, located 40 miles away from Cusco, are part of an unforgettable experience.
Trujillo: Spring City
With almost 700K inhabitants, Trujillo is the best example of a very well preserved colonial architecture. There are important museums and churches around the center of the city, such as Museo Casinelli, Casa Ganoza Chopitea, Casa Urquiaga, Palacio Iturregui, Casa de la Emancipación, Archeaology Museum, Museo de Zoologia (Zoology museum), Casa Mayorazgo de Facala, and Casona Orbegozo, among others. The Church of Bethlehem (Iglesia de Belen) built in the 17thcentury, with twin towers, is one of the most visited, as well as the church of St. Augustin. Trujillo has a very privileged climate, which achieves a permanently festive atmosphere and was also at one point, the center of the pre-Inca culture in the north of Peru.
Tourism Services: The most important cultures were Mochica, Chimu and Chavin, one of the oldest civilizations after Caral in Lima. To the North, more archaeological sites like brujos, tucume and Sipan are located closer to the city of Chiclayo. The cities of Trujillo and Chiclayo are the center of Ruta Moche or the archaeological circuit of the north of Peru.
Adventurers who like to enjoy beach time may consider staying in the laid-back surfer village of Huanchaco, just 20 minutes up the road. Also, Chicama, which today is another favorite surfing destination in Peru and has the largest waves in the world. Enjoy great food such as seco a la norteña, a delicious meat stewed and simmered with cilantro and vegetables, usually served with white rice and beans or also duck with rice. To complete your meal, a local dessert is a must: King Kong, a delicious cookie crust filled with dulce de leche or caramel type. Eating in Chiclayo, the neighboring city, is also highly recommended.
Iquitos, The Amazon City
It is the largest city of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest with a population of roughly 500K inhabitants. It is also the largest city in the world that can be reached only by plane or boat seeing as no physical road connects it to the rest of the country. Iquitos was the epicenter of the rubber boom between 1880 and 1914, when the city was attractive to foreigners and today shows evidences of that time through its architecture, like the Eifel House, built only with iron. Nevertheless, the weather is hot and humid and goes from 72F to over 100F sometimes. It is important to bring a mosquito repellent.
Tourism Services:Iquitos is the point of departure for most tours to explore the Amazon Jungle. The nearby protected areas offer more than 500 bird species, more than 100 mammal species, 69 reptile species, 58 amphibian species and more than 1000 wild and cultivated plants. Different options that range from lodges to four stars hotels and short excursions to one-week fine cruise ships are available.
There are also a number of very luxurious boats that sail on the river and take tourists to the amazing Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, located in the Loreto region. Don’t forget to check for the beautiful pink dolphins, giant turtles and a the amazing El Dorado Lagoon. Tourists should not miss a canopy walk on the tree lines an enjoy the jungle’s nature above the soil.
With natural local ingredients, their particular gastronomy is an exciting experience that visitors cannot miss; the combination of palm heart with other ingredients in its salads is a delicious start. Paiche is a delicious Amazon River fish prepared in different ways and of course Juanes, a kind of rice tamale with a piece of chicken wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a special way, makes the gastronomic experience an unforgettable one while visiting Iquitos.