Luminous archaeological sites? Check. Lush rainforest? Check. An arid coast lapped by a highly surfable Pacific swell? Check. Peru, it seems, has it all.
Every cranny of the Andes offers a unique glimpse into singular cultures.
Not to mention incredible foods and enough natural wonders to keep a National Geographic photographer employed for decades. On the coast, adobe pyramids and ancient temples sit quietly amid shifting desert sands and bulging seaside cities. Here, the culture is boisterous – infused with African soulfulness, indigenous know-how and the feistiness of the Spanish. The people are effusive and the music is bound to get your hips shaking.
To the east lie the Andes.
This mountain range has served as the heart of countless empires. Its sights are staggering: mountains that seem to erupt from the earth into the heavens, plunging gorges, icy pinnacles and steamy cloud forest. Plus, of course, the masterful ruins of a civilization that could be put on par with ancient Rome in terms of size and infrastructure: the Incas. This is a place of chilly windswept plains and coffee-colored soil, where Catholic ritual veils indigenous belief, where the culture is stoic and the music is laced with pre-Columbian instrumentation. In comparison to the coast, it might as well be another planet.
Lastly, there is the Amazon – the earth’s most fabled rainforest.
It is in this tangled jungle that Peru fuses with the lowland cultures of so many other South American countries. This sprawling lowland area is home to companies of cackling macaws and playful pink river dolphins, as well as remote ethnicities that maintain a deep knowledge of the forest. Scattered about are old rubber boomtowns, where a previous century’s entrepreneurs left behind town squares dotted with tropical architecture.
All of this, combined, comes together to make up Peru.
It is a wondrous, surreal mix of peoples, cultures, geographies, languages and food. Enjoy the trip. It’s going to be an adventure.
Plunging gorges, icy pinnacles and steamy cloud forest.