For real travel lovers, Peru must be one of their bullet points on their bucket list. If you haven’t visited this country yet, then plan your next trip just there. It’s one of the most megadiverse countries in South America with an incredibly rich culture and numerous highlights that you just must see. What is the best method to go sightseeing in Peru? Through taking one of the Inca trails. The most famous route consists of 40 000 km, spreading through three countries: Chile, Ecuador and Peru. However, you don’t have to take such a long trek. You may as well take a shorter one, for example, a 26-miles trek on the Inca Trail, which covers beautiful mountain scenery, subtropical jungle and the combination of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels. To find more info about this route, see it here. No matter which trail you choose, most of them will allow you to discover the essence of the Andes with Machu Picchu as your top destination.
Arriving in Peru, you’ll most probably land in the capital city, at the Lima airport, from where you’ll start your pilgrimage. Here, in the so-called City of Kings, you can stay in a hotel and have your home base. Being in Lima, it’s worth exploring its colonial legacy, still existing at the Main Square and many buildings, such as the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima and the City Hall. Apart from admiring different architectural styles, you’ll be able to learn about the religious history of Peru, visiting, for instance, a colonial mansion- Casa Aliaga, as well as the Santo Domingo Convent with numerous holy paintings, images and relics of Peruvian saints. Can’t you wait? Pack your backpack and we’ll travel!
Cusco and San Pedro Market
Your next stop would be Cusco, regarded as the heart of the Andes. The city was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. And now it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with about 2 million tourists every year. Here, you’ll also be able to see its remaining Spanish architecture and go for a walk to the colourful and vibrant San Pedro Market. From the local guide, you’ll find out more about the history of this place. And after that, you could gradually immerse in the Peruvian atmosphere and relax before your real trekking experience.
A traditional Andean village
Your journey to Machu Picchu will begin from the visit in one of the traditional Andean villages- Sacsaywaman so that you could see the daily life of Peruvian people. There, you could participate in a unique Despacho Ceremony, during which you’ll ask for blessings for your further trip. Together with the local families, you could take part in many activities, such as preparing a traditional lunch, working on the field and visiting the local school. In the end, you could buy some of the woven items directly from the women who made them.
Going deeply into the Sacred Valley, you’ll see more and more stunning spots, for instance, Moray- a deep spiral terrain used by the Incas to test the crops at different altitudes in the Andes. Another ancient site will be Maras with its salt ponds, tilled by local families for over 1 000 years. The final stop will be at an ancient fortress- Ollantaytambo, located on the mountain. To seal your visit in the Sacred Valley at the end of the day, you’ll take a rest in the hot springs, where you could recharge your batteries before the next demanding day.
Finally, you’ll reach your top destination, which is Machu Picchu- a 15th century Inca citadel, and a commonly recognisable icon of Inca civilisation all over the world. With the local guide close at hand, you’ll hear of its historical, cultural and spiritual meaning. It would be a fantastic experience to see with your own eyes, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and take a photo just in front of it. Being there, some of the trekkers also take advantage of an opportunity and decide to climb Wayna Picchu. But choosing this trek, you must reckon with switchbacks, the rock tunnel and the famous death stairs. Therefore, not everyone feels confident enough to try this route.
Qoyllur R’iti Festival
But even skipping Wayna Picchu, you’ll be satisfied with your pilgrimage to Peru. At the end of your journey, you would stop in the town of Mahuayani to celebrate with thousands of tourists, the colourful and magnificent festival of Qoyllur R’iti. Here, you’ll have to trek around 3 or 4 hours each way to the sanctuary to see a mix of indigenous customs and take part in traditional games and rituals. Thanks to this amazing experience, you’ll be able to discover the essence of the Andes fully.
Travelling to Peru, you shouldn’t limit this trip only to sightseeing its city monuments and colonial remains. This ancient city has much more to offer you. Located in picturesque surroundings will shock you every time you step the Andes, which are still full of undiscovered mysteries and legends.