Peru's must-sees

Breathtaking panoramas, ancestral peoples, rare species, Peru is a unique destination in the world. Simple holiday travellers and adventurers find their happiness there. With a population of 30 million, the 20th largest country in the world will seduce the most difficult traveller. Its capital, Lima, features some of the most beautiful colonial buildings. It will also delight the taste buds of the most gourmet since it is one of the world's gastronomic capitals recognized by UNESCO. But Peru is not just about the excitement of Lima. Peru is also the city of Cuzco, former capital of the Incas, the fabulous Machu Picchu, and a splendid and varied nature. Coming to Peru means discovering another world, far from the big cities. Everything here is pure and serene

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is the most impressive pre-Columbian monument in South America due to its beauty and mystery. Lost city in the valley of the Rio Urubamba, 4 days walk from Cuzco, it belongs to the family of the big dead cities. Isolated by the Incas during its construction in the 15th century and although discovered before, Machu Picchu, Cuzco was not revealed to the world until 1909. If this wonder intrigues, it is because it has kept all its mystery. No one knows whether it is an old fortress, a sanctuary, a city or both. Machu Picchu, a Peruvian identity and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is now a victim of its success. Every day, more than 2,500 people walk through this new wonder of the world. The site is therefore threatened by landslides and erosion risks

The city of Cusco

Located at an altitude of 3,400 metres, in a huge valley intertwined with brown mountains, Cusco (or Cuzco) was the capital of the Inca Empire. Belly button of the Andean world (Cusco means belly button in Quechua language), this ancestral city is now very popular with tourists. Discovered in 1533 by the Spanish, this mythical Peruvian city seduces by its architecture. Most Spanish constructions are based on the ancient Inca palaces and are sometimes made of the same materials. You have to go to the city centre to appreciate its richness. Wandering through the narrow streets of Cusco means admiring its beautiful colonial houses, their carved wooden balconies and squares dressed in large shiny cobblestones

Manu National Park

In the middle of the Amazon, Manu National Park is a true haven of peace where nature is king. It has the greatest biodiversity on the planet and includes all the vegetation areas between the low tropical jungle and the Andean highlands, located at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres. Created on 29 May 1973, the park has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO and has the status of a "Biosphere Reserve". "A privileged destination for natural tourism, it is home to 221 species of mammals, 20,000 varieties of plants, 1,200 different butterflies and 1,000 species of birds. To be observed: the jaguar, the Brazilian tapir, the Peruvian rock cock, the giant otters and the famous black caiman. In the centre of the Park: an 18-metre high tower and a high trail allow you to admire the vastness of the Amazonian forest.

Lima Cathedral

Lima, the capital of Peru, is home to almost a third of the Peruvian population. In the middle of its main square, Plaza Mayor stands Lima Cathedral. With its adjoining chapel, El Sagrario, and its giant twin spiral towers, it stands out as the monument not to be missed. Built in 1625, this colonial-style building consists of 14 side chapels that overlook the square and neighbouring streets. Although the Cathedral has undergone several renovations, it still retains all its Roman charms. Inside, you can admire the choir, entirely carved and covered with gold. Not to be missed: the altars, seats and benches made by the Catalan sculptor Pedro Noguera. The artistic richness is found on the walls, decorated with paintings. It is in Lima Cathedral that the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the famous Spanish conquistador of Peru, is hidden. The sacristy also houses a religious museum

Lake Titicaca

At an altitude of 3,812 metres, Lake Tititcaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. Ancient home of civilization, Lake Titicaca is, according to a legend, the cradle of Inca civilization. This one tells that men lived happily in a fertile valley, and did not make up for anything. The only thing forbidden: approaching the sacred fire at the top of the mountain. Jealous, the devil ordered men to be brave and go and get the sacred fire. Surprised, the "Apus" gods took out the pumas to devour the population. Faced with this massacre, the Sun god cried for 40 days and flooded the valley: Lake Titicaca was born. The pumas would have been transformed into stone, thus giving the name Titicaca: the lake of stone pumas. Today, some of the 41 islands, entirely made of reeds, are home to some 2,000 inhabitants. The lake represents a place of preservation for local communities

The Nazca lines

In 1939, Paul Kosok made a strange discovery in southern Peru. In the middle of the Nazca desert, spread over some 350 km², there are gigantic patterns. Designed or engraved, the Nazca lines would have been created between the years 300 and 900 by "the civilization of Nazca". A real archaeological mystery, these lines represent geometric shapes or stylized animals. The experts each develop their own theory and hope one day to solve the mystery of the Nazca lines. Some think they would be copies of figures formed by the stars. The lines would therefore make it possible to record the exact movement of the stars. The discoveries continue since in 2015, 25 new prehistoric figures were found on the Nazca site. A surprising and fascinating phenomenon, the Nazca lines are part of the cultural heritage of humanity

The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

In the northern Amazon, this reserve covers 2,080,000 hectares. The largest protected area in Peru, it is accessible only by river. The abundance of the forest offers it an enormous biodiversity, similar to that of the Manu National Park. This reserve protects the region's extraordinary ecological wealth, including an incredible diversity of fish. In total: there are more than 250 species such as the glorious pirarucu, the largest freshwater fish in the world, and the river dolphin. But one of the main attractions of the reserve is the huge charapas turtles and manatees (sea cows). The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is full of mammals and plants of all kinds. Most species are on the verge of extinction. A true Mother Nature's paradise, it allows you to observe wildlife, which may, in a few years' time, no longer exist in the Amazon

Trujillo

In the middle of this immense desert coast, Trujillo brings freshness and lightness. Capital of the Libertad department, this city is a kind of condensed version of Peru. A true paradise of greenery and prosperity, Trujillo is well deserving of its name as the "city of eternal spring" with its dry climate, temperatures ranging from 19 to 24 °C and alleys with colourful houses. It is the main venue for regional festivities, including the International Spring Festival. Surrounded by prestigious remains, such as Chan Chan, this pleasant colonial city is a popular stopover between north and south, costa and sierra. Trujillo is one of the cities with the highest number of preserved colonial buildings. It is home to remarkable archaeological sites such as the largest adobe (brick) city in the world, Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna

The White Cordillera

Far from the main Peruvian cities, there are elegant mountains, which hide surprising landscapes behind their peaks. The White Cordillera (Blanca Cordillera) is the highest tropical mountain range on the planet. Its peaks sometimes reach an altitude of 6,000 metres. 180 km long, this massif is the natural barrier between the desert coast and the Amazon basin. Walking in the Cordillera Blanca means discovering a multitude of paths and landscapes. There are many lakes with turquoise waters such as Lake Llanganuco, the most beautiful lake in the massif. The Cordillera Blanca has all the assets to seduce travellers: glacier lakes, endemic fauna and flora, canyons and many archaeological sites

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