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Things to Do in the Area

Peru

Peru features three climatic zones and a bevy of ancient Inca ruins. From the jungles of the Amazon to the towering Andes Mountains and the arid desert coast of the South Pacific, Peru offers a scenic and diverse range of environs for tourists to explore. There are lots of things to do, and below are several activities that we suggest!  Everything below is from USA Today’s Travel Tips.

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Activities in Arequipa

Santa_Catalina_Monastery_ArequipaVisit the Santa Catalina Monastery

Near the center of town, the Santa Catalina Monastery (santacatalina.org.pe) is a can’t-miss destination if you’re interested in architecture, religion or history. The monastery was founded in 1579. Many original structures have been damaged by earthquakes and rebuilt over time, while others were added in later centuries. Today the monastery is a complex of buildings, walkways and cloisters, with nuns still living on the premises. In addition to religious relics and architecture from various periods, you’ll see artwork everywhere: 400 paintings by native artists were discovered when the monastery was being opened to the public, and they’re on display throughout the area. As of the date of publication, admission costs about $13 American per person.

Sample the Nightlife

In the evenings, Arequipa comes alive as both tourists and locals enjoy the nightlife. You won’t be sipping beer in bars like you’d find at home; according to Frommer’s, many of Arequipa’s bars have vaulted ceilings made of sillar, which is a local, white volcanic stone. Head to the old quarter and dance to live bands playing Andean music. When you’re hungry, ask the locals to recommend a picantería, a nickname for an Arequipa restaurant that serves the spicy food that is typical of the region.

Tour the City

You’ll see plenty of Arequipa’s architectural details while walking from place to place, but seeking out the most significant buildings will give you the best look. Walk around the district of San Lazaro to look for buildings made of adobe and stone; Arequipa’s earliest buildings were made with these materials, and some survive in this district. Visit the Santo Domingo convent, which was built from the 16th to 18th centuries, and compare it to the mid-19th century Plaza de Armas. If you’d like a local guide to give you background, a few companies like Bustour (bustour.com.pe) operate tours in Arequipa. Verify that your guide speaks English before buying a ticket.

colcaCañón del Colca

The Colca Canyon lies high in the Andes a few hours outside of Arequipa. This canyon that is 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, long, and is one of the deepest in the world, formed by a seismic fault running between several of the region’s volcanoes. Tourists flock to the Colca Canyon to see sizable Andean condors soaring across the 11,150 ft. chasm that gashes through the valley, using the quiet village of Chivay as an overnight base.

 

Other Popular Peruvian Destinations

machu_picchuMachu Picchu

Located 3,000 feet above the Rio Urubamba, in the eastern Andes Mountains of Peru, is Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the historic Inca sanctuary receives more than 400,000 visitors every year. Visitors can travel to Machu Picchu by train, bus, or best of all by taking the Inca Trail.

The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail ranks as one of the world’s most famous treks, leading hikers for four days across the rugged mountains of the Sacred Valley and finishing up at the marvelous Machu Picchu ruins. Peruvian government regulations require all hikers to go with officially sanctioned tour outfits, and independent hiking is prohibited on the trail. More than 100 tour agencies organize trail excursions in the nearby city of Cusco. Millie and Drew recently made the four day, three night trek with GAdventures, and it was a fantastic experience!

The Nazca Lines

Situated on the southern coast of Peru, the legendary Nasca Lines cut through the barren desert to form a mysterious collection of enormous sand etchings. Giant designs of birds, monkeys, spiders and other creatures dot the landscape, carved in massive ruts dating back to the time of the Nasca civilization around 700 AD. Due to the immense scope of these figures, visitors must take 30-minute charter flights overhead to get panoramic views of the lines. A handful of tour companies provide charter flights for tourists. Fodor’s Travel Guide recommends Alegria Tours and Nasca Trails.

The Amazon River

The mighty Amazon River runs for thousands of miles across Peru and on into Brazil before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. The port city of Iquitos sits on the banks of Amazon, serving as the primary point of entry for adventures in the Peruvian jungle. Tourists must fly to Iquitos due to the lack of roads in the dense rain forest. River cruises offer tourists the most comfortable means of touring the region surrounding Iquitos, according to Andean Travel Web. Companies like Explorama Tours and Paseos Amazonicos provide boat services, ferrying travelers among the winding waterways filled with alligators, monkeys, pink dolphins and macaws.

The Manu Biosphere Reserve and Tambopata National Reserve

The Manu Biosphere Reserve and Tambopata National Reserve are two unspoiled and protected sections of the Peruvian Amazon where eco-tourists head in droves. Brimming with exotic wildlife, these remote nature reserves can only be visited with an escorted tour group. Frommer’s mentions Journeys International and Andean Treks as recommendable organizations, while Andean Travel Web also gives high marks to the luxury InkaNatura outfit and the budget Expediciones Vilca company.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, one of the highest navigable lakes on the planet, also attracts tourists with its sapphire waters and indigenous Aymara culture. Visitors usually schedule day trips to the Peruvian islands of Lake Titicaca including Los Uros, Taquile, Amantani and Sillustani. Tour boats range from small rickety craft to upscale hydrofoils, with prices corresponding to the quality of the vessels and the expertise of the guides. Companies like Piramide Tours and Edgar Adventures offer a good value and an enjoyable experience, according to Andean Travel Web.