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With its diverse array of culture and ancient sites steeped in history, Peru offers an all-in-one experience like no other country in South America.
For most who head to Peru, Machu Picchu is generally on the top of everyone’s list of places to visit. This very famous, ancient site is a place you just can’t leave out of your itinerary. Make sure you allow for a few days in Cuzco before heading up to the ruins. This will allow you some time to acclimatise to the altitude change which can be particularly unsettling when arriving from the near sea-level city of Lima as most travellers do.
There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cuzco, either on the 5 day Inca Trail trek camping along the way, or by taking the early-morning train up with the locals. The advantage of doing the trek is that on your last day you are already at the ruins before the train arrives. This gives you the opportunity to experience this ancient wonder at sunrise from the famous Sun Gate without the other 2000 potential tourists that visit there every day.
Another highlight is the beautiful Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city. Arequipa is also known as the ‘White City’ due to the surrounding spectacular snowy mountains, including El Misti volcano which towers over the city at 5100m. Although also heavily steeped in history, Arequipa sadly has lost most of its ancient buildings due to the volcanic activity in the area it. However, there are still some 17th century buildings standing which give you a small insight into what the city used to be like centuries ago.
One more big attraction for this area is Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world. You can either just do a day trip to the canyon or take a bit longer and spend a few days trekking within it. The delight that you do get for a trip out to the Colca Canyon, is a morning to sit high on the Canyon ridge watch the mighty Condor birds soar above and all around you. A truly magical sight.
For those seeking a bit of mystery, a trip to the Nazca lines in the south is well worth the effort. Enormous geometric designs and figures of various animals, run for several kilometers across the desert, and only visable from the air. Completely amazing, particularly when to date, there is not explanation of how and why these lines and figures appear.
Peru really is a county that abounds in history and culture. If there is one place to need to make sure you travel to once in your life, it is Peru!
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