PERU STRETCHES FROM SOUTH AMERICA’S SANDY PACIFIC OCEAN SHORELINE ACROSS DESERT DUNES, MOUNTAIN RANGES, TROPICAL FORESTS AND COLONIAL CITIES.

Peru is an exhilarating blend of cultures of ancient Inca, colonial Spanish and modern Peruvian – all of which were influenced by the incredibly varied and jaw-droppingly beautiful terrain. Trek the Inca trail to majestic Machu Picchu, visit pre-Columbian ruins, bike through tropical forests or take a cosmopolitan spin plate by plate across the culinary capital of Latin America.

Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Spanish
Pisco Airport (PIO), J Chavez International Airport (LIM), Aeropuerto Internacional Alejandro Velasco Astete (CUZ)

DISCOVERIES

SACRED VALLEY
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One of the world’s most famously beautiful stretches of unspoilt land, the Sacred Valley of the Incas attracts outdoor adventurers to its soaring mountains, pristine lakes, powerful rivers, and green meadows. Explore the lands of the former Inca Empire by trekking or mountain biking, go white-water rafting down the Urubamba River, kayak across high-altitude lakes, and visit ancient villages and Incan ruins.

SALT PANS OF MARAS
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Designed by the engineering Incans in the 1400s, the Salinas de Maras are still an agricultural and visual marvel to behold today. A saltwater hot springs at the top of the valley feeds the salt pans which the Inca people evaporated and used for salt, particularly for salt licks for cattle. The short uphill hike is definitely worth the spectacular valley views.

BALLESTAS ISLANDS
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Accessible only for boat tours, the unspoilt Islas Ballestas are home to Peru’s largest colony of sea lions, in addition to large communities of Humboldt penguins and endangered sea turtles. Visitors are not actually allowed on the three small islands, which are an important stopover for migratory birds on the Alaska-Patagonia route. Whether you explore by yacht or eco-friendly motor boat, keep an eye (and a camera) out for packs of dolphins and humpback whales.

MACHU PICCHU (AND HUAYNA PICCHU)
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A breathtaking sanctuary built by the Incas in the 15th century and rediscovered in 1911, Machu Picchu is one of the most magnificent ruins on earth. High in the Andes, ancient pathways lead to stone walls and agricultural terraces surround a citadel filled with the ruins of temples and watchtowers. For an even more impressive experience, climb the adjacent green peak, Huayna Picchu, and look down on Machu Picchu with a bird’s eye view.

NAZCA LINES
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The only way to experience one of the region’s most impressive sights is from the air: take a trip in a Cessna through the arid desert air, over rugged mountains to the Nazca Desert plain. There, geometric shapes are etched on flat plateaus, straight lines and sharp angles carved into the reddish-brown earth slowly turn into miles-long figures of animals, from birds to spiders to monkeys. These ancient geoglyphs were created by pre-Incan inhabitants known as the Nazca.

PARACAS NATIONAL RESERVE
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A 5,600-square-mile nature reserve – approximately two-thirds of which is ocean – the Paracas National Reserve consists of some of the world’s most magnificent natural landscape and diversity of wildlife. Explore the area by hiking, cycling, kayaking, diving and snorkeling, and more, and encounter such varied animals as Humboldt penguins, flamingos, sea lions, and Inca terns. The reserve is also home to prehistoric archaeological sites and the traditional Lagunillas fishing village.

PISCO TOUR
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The Ica region outside the town of Pisco, just north of Hotel Paracas, is home to the traditional wineries, known as bodegas, where Peru’s signature spirit, pisco, has been made for centuries. Take a tour through some of the most iconic haciendas – including Bodegas Vista Alegre, Hacienda Tacama Bodega, Bodega El Catador, and Bodegas Viñas de Oro at the Hacienda Hoja Redonda – and taste the liqueur while learning about traditional processes.

QORIKANCHA
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The area around Cusco is filled with Inca ruins, but Qorikancha, located in the heart of the city, is one of the most impressive. One of the grandest and best-preserved temples, the original 15th-century building was added onto by the Spanish, making it a rare amalgam of architectural styles. Originally covered in sheets of gold and filled with gold and silver statues, the temple was later owned by Dominican monks, who installed magnificent frescoes adjacent to the ornate Incan stonework.

MORAY
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If visiting Cusco, the 30-mile off-the-beaten-path trip to the Moray Ruins is a must. Here, visitors will find a series of grass-covered terrace rings which are mystical and perfectly preserved in a secluded area of the Sacred Valley. Resembling a Roman amphitheater, it’s widely thought that the circular, grass-topped terraces were part of an agricultural lab of sorts to create micro-climates and experiment with various crops.

TAMBO DEL INKA PRIVATE TRAIN STATION
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While hiking the Inca Trail is an extraordinary physical feat, no one ever claimed anything luxurious about it. For an equally scenic and infinitely more relaxed trip up to Machu Picchu from Cusco, board a train at Tambo del Inka’s Private Train Station. These vintage railway cars offer panoramic views of snowcapped Andean peaks and alpaca-filled meadows – as well as gourmet meals, Peruvian wines, and an old-world elegance.

STAY

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