Peru is a destination that is on plenty of people’s bucket lists, and this is for a good reason. Anyone who visits considers it one of the most fascinating examples of indigenous civilisation. With stunning, and often gravity-defying architecture, there is something to surprise you, quite literally, around every corner.
Measuring 1.285 million km², it is one of the largest in South America, but while the capital Lima has the metropolitan feel. Huacachina gives you a chance for some adrenaline-pumping adventure, it’s Cusco that should appeal to those who love a bit of history, and the opportunity to take a walk into the past.
Where else? Machu Picchu is one of the most famous destinations in the world and comes steeped in history. Discovered over 100 years ago but developed much before that, the Inca settlement attracts thousands each year.
There are multiple ways to get to it, also. For those who love to hike and want to test themselves, the flexy-fee challenge scheme is just one of the many trekking options. At the same time, the Salkantay trail will take you on a different route that eventually joins up with the Inca Trail as you edge closer to one of the wonders of the world.
Before Machu Picchu, the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain, or Montaña de Siete Colores, is a stunning introduction to the beauty that Peru can offer. Taking the bus from Cusco (at around 5 AM), you’ll spend the next few hours on the bus to the car park, and from there you begin the three-hour trek to the foot of the mountain.
The journey, however, is just as remarkable as the destination, and depending on the time of year, you’ll pass snow-capped mountains surrounding you, as well as a few llamas and local Quechuan inhabitants. Eventually, you’ll have the chance to witness the unique colours that line the mountain, caused by sedimentary deposits, and take a few pictures.
Be warned, though, at 5,200km, it is not a trek you can march along, and many people will (and have) suffered from altitude sickness.
Get Lost Amongst the Walls
If you’re not feeling a trek (and after Machu Picchu and Vinicuna, who can blame you?), you can always get lost amongst the walls of the historic town. The side streets all over Cusco still have something for you to discover, from chic cafes to souvenir shops, as well as a bar or two if you’re feeling a little thirsty.
Luckily, Cusco is not too confusing, and there are two primary squares for you to get your bearings. From here, you can begin Walking Tours, visit the Statue of Christ (which is a great way to get used to the altitude), or check out the twelve-angled stone down, which is a remarkable piece of architecture found at the palace of the Archbishop.
The Quechuan Experience
For an authentic Peruvian experience, there is no place better than Cusco, and these sights combine everything that millions of people each year come to love about it. Some sights and activities may be tough, but that’s the whole point, and although you might feel you can’t do it, the feeling you get once you push yourself to the top will make everything worth it.