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Peru

Rich in history and culture and with a hugely diverse geography, Peru makes for a fascinating destination. On hearing mention of Peru, images of Macchu Picchu, the soaring peaks of the Andes, llamas and the bizarre Nasca lines probably spring to mind. But Peru is also home to dense Amazon rain forest and nearly 2,000 species of birds.

Machu Picchu, The Holy city of the Incas, was voted one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Built during the 15th Century, today it is full of amazing ruins but it was a symbol of the Inca’s power and is testimony to the society’s sophistication in terms of engineering. The mystery remains as to how it ever got built.

Another complete mystery is the Nasca lines and diagrams that are etched on the desert floor. A relic of the ancient people of the Nazca culture, the lines were created over 1,000 years ago by removing sun-darkened stones from the desert floor. It is as dramatic and mysterious as Machu Picchu but in a completely different way.

Peru’s capital Lima is known as “The City of Kings” and has an old style of faded glamour about it. There are a host of things to see including The Grand Plaza, The Government Palace and The Church and Convent of San Francisco which is the best place to see art in the city. The city was founded by Francisco Pizarro the Conquistador who seized the land off the Incas for Spain in 1535. It is now a World Heritage Site. The baroque mansions and colonial churches still gleam with silver which passed through Lima on route to Spain. The underground catacombs are well worth a visit for the historically and culturally inclined. After all this you can sit back and have a pisco which is Peru’s national cocktail made from brandy.

From the extraordinary Nasca lines in the south to the world’s largest adobe city at Chan Chán in the north, there are ample opportunities to immerse oneself in this country’s fascinating ancient history.

Arequipa known as “The White City” is also a World Heritage site encompassing volcanic stone buildings, mansions, churches and museums which give a real sense of the historical importance of Peru. The Plaza de Armas are beautiful gardens that are the focus of both the city’s day and nightlife. The Colca Valley rivals the Grand Canyon and is twice as deep giving the intrepid explorer the opportunity to see the enormous condors.

The perfect landscape includes agricultural terraces, snow covered mountains and villages with cobbled streets. A must for any visitor is the relatively easy climb of El Misti Volcano.

The cultural and religious centre of the Inca world, Cusco was once a highly impressive city and was built to reflect the might of the Empire. This ecologically rich city incorporates the Amazon basin that takes up half of Peru. The area is both remote and relatively unexplored giving the visitor a real sense of freedom. The Andes are the ‘piece de resistance’ of this unique area where the soaring peaks reach unbelievable heights of 7,000 metres.

From the extraordinary Nasca lines in the south to the world’s largest adobe city at Chan Chán in the north, there are ample opportunities to immerse oneself in this country’s fascinating ancient history.