Fascinating Peru, our Destination of the Week

 Traditonally clothed peruvian women with llamas.
Traditonally clothed peruvian women with llamas.

Despite its rugged and often inhospitable landscape, Peru ranks among the world’s great centers of ancient civilization. The sun-worshiping Incas are the last and most famous in a long line of highly developed cultures that thrived thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.

Their heritage fascinates travelers and archeologists alike. Along with the stunning Inca ruins near Cusco and the great city of Machu Picchu, Peru is home to the Nazca lines etched on its coastal deserts; the Colla burial chullpas near Lake Titicaca; the enormous adobe city of Chan Chan; the great Moche adobe pyramids and burial sites near Trujillo and Chiclayo; and the massive stone citadel of Kuélap near Chachapoyas. These cultures left no written records, just mysterious and beautiful works in gold, silver, textiles, and stone.

But ancient ruins are only a fraction of the story. Although the traditional American world was shattered by the bloody Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the legacy of ancient cultures is very much alive. Roughly half of Peru’s over 30 million people are of indigenous origin; often living in remote mountain villages, they still speak the Quechua or Aymara tongue of their ancestors, and many of their beliefs and customs are a mixture of traditional Andean ways and the culture imposed by the Spanish conquistadors. There are also more than 50 ethnic groups who live in Peru’s Amazon region, some of whom still shun contact with the outside world.

Peru is also one of the most spectacular countries on earth. Its variety is astonishing: scientists have ascertained that of 101 possible ecological zones, Peru has 84 within its borders. As a result, the country can offer virtually every conceivable scenic attraction. The Peruvian Andes draw trekkers and mountain climbers from all over the world, over half of Peru lies within the Amazon jungle, and the world’s driest desert runs the entire length of its coast.

In the 21st century, Peru is still being formed as a modern nation. Separated by geographical differences and an often violent past, Peruvians today are justly proud of their heritage and their country’s riches. It's no wonder Peru is one of the world’s great travel destinations.

Buy the book: Insight Guide Peru