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Peru is a thrilling destination, holding great appeal for all kinds of tourists. With three diverse geographical climates, ancient ruins and warm, friendly people, a trip to Peru promises to be a fascinating journey. Peru has cosmopolitan colonial cities, impressive mountain ranges, and biodiversity; truly something for everyone.
Peru's most famous site is the magnificent Machu Picchu. This pre-Columbian Inca masterpiece was uncovered less than 100 years ago. The technological achievements of the Incas are evident in this ancient city, and wandering amongst the ruins, one imagines being an Inca warrior. Following the footsteps of those warriors by trekking the Inca trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The 4-day hike is the most popular on the continent, and for good reason. In addition to passing ruins and walking through cloud forest, the view from atop the 12,000' + peak Warmiwanusca pass is breathtaking, in more ways than one!
For a less crowded Inca ruin experience, Choquequirao is known as "the other Machu Picchu." This site, which is still being excavated, was the Incas' last shelter. Trek to this ruin as well, or go the 60 KM by horseback. Near both archaeological wonders, Cusco is a charming colonial city at 13,000 feet, offering a glimpse of the past with carefully preserved Spanish architecture. Spend a breathless afternoon wandering the curving streets of the old city, inspecting artisans' wares and then return to the plaza de armas to enjoy Peruvian or European cuisine within view of a 16th century cathedral.
Southeast of Cusco lies the massive Lake Titicaca. This body of water, shared with Bolivia, is the world's highest navigable lake. Indigenous people still reside on the lake, crafting boats out of reeds and living on floating islands. The lakeside city of Puna is famous as the birthplace of the Incas. It's also a great place to buy quality alpaca sweaters. After shopping, catch one of the many traditional dances performed at festivals, with Aymara people wearing customary garb.
The seaside town of Paracas offers a different waterfront experience and the national park of the same name is a coastal wonderland with impressive sand dunes. A variety of coastal peoples once lived in this area. One group, the Nazca, is responsible for a great Peruvian mystery. Debate continues over the meaning of the Nazca lines, huge designs "drawn" on the desert floor. A flight above this wonder lets one contemplate all the possible explanations.
Of course, it is impossible to leave Peru without a stop in Lima, the vibrant capital city. An increasing European influence is leaving its mark on dining opportunities, but a traditional ceviche is still easy to find. Admire the colonial buildings of Barranco while experiencing a thoroughly modern nightlife, and walk across the Puente de Suspiros en Barranco ("Bridge of Sighs") to reflect on your Peruvian adventure.