THE HIGHLANDS OF PERU
The High Andes: The Andes range from North to South along Peru like a backbone covering 26% of the country. Their soaring peaks and green valleys provide spectacular scenery. Nestled within are some of Peru’s most popular and legendary destinations:
Cuzco Ancient capital of the Inca, Cuzco is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Western Hemisphere. At 11,444 ft., it’s best to rest upon arrival. Cuzco offers a wide variety of hotels from tourist to deluxe, quality restaurants, and several nightclubs with folklore shows. The city tour of Cuzco includes the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Kenko and Tambo Machay. Cuzco is also the starting point for excursions into the Sacred Valley of the Incas to visit towns like Pisac – famed for its Sunday morning Indian market, the mountainside city of Ollantaytambo, and highland Chincheros.
Machu Picchu The fabled “Lost City of the Incas.” Set atop a mountain peak three hours by train from Cuzco, Machu Picchu is one of South America’s most outstanding excursions and requires a minimum of a full day. Here are the remains of a city never discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors – ancient staircases, terraces, temples, palaces, towers, fountains, and the famous Temple of the Sun. A small hotel at the ruins provides hot lunches for day visitors and comfortable overnight accommodations. Advance reservations are required. An overnight here is an unforgettable experience Kuélap and ChachapoyasIn Northern Peru, near the town of Chachapoyas (capital of the State of Amazonas), a great many pre-Inca ruins and sites are now accessible to visitors. The most imposing of all is Kuélap, a titanic citadel, or fortress, that is being called the “second” Machu Picchu. Here there are far more questions than answers. A new road now links the vast complex with Chachapoyas, and a trip to the site can be made in a full day. Also near the neighboring small town of Lamud, treks are now offered to view Easter Island-like statues containing mummies that amazingly stand imbedded in towering canyon walls.
Puno At 12,500 ft., Puno stands upon the shore of the world’s highest navigable lake – Titicaca. Legends say the first Inca arose from its depths and went on to found his empire. Most travelers reach Puno by train from Cuzco. Hotels provide comfortable overnight accommodations while travelers explore the area. Boat excursions visit the floating islands of the Uros Indians, the ancient mystery towers of Sillustani and the legendary Island of the Sun. From here one can continue across the lake via scheduled hydrofoil service to Bolivia.
Arequipa Called the “White City” because of many striking colonial buildings made from pearly white volcanic sillar. Arequipa sits at the base of towering El Misti volcano’s snow-capped, nearly perfect cone that reaches 19,000 ft. Highlight is the Convent of Santa Catalina, which was closed to outsiders for over 400 years. The walled convent is now open as a museum that exposes the once cloistered world.
Huaraz Eight hours by car from Lima, Huaraz is located in the mountainous heart of the Callejon de Huaylas region. Here a spectacularly beautiful valley runs between the snow-less Cordillera Negra (rising to 13,000 ft.) and the snow-covered Cordillera Blanca, whose highest peak soars to 22,205 ft. Many colorful villages dot the valley. With no less than 23 peaks visible on clear days, Huaraz is the gateway to some of Peru’s most scenic and inspiring trekking. From here one may visit the Chavin de Huantar ruins, a fortress temple built around 600 B.C. One may still see marvelous carved stone heads, designs in relief on symbolic stone figures and the famed dagger-shaped monolith.
Huancayo In the Andes east of Lima, Huancayo is reached by one of South America’s great train rides. Reaching an altitude of 15,800 ft., the train traverses 66 tunnels, 59 bridges, makes 22 zigzag switch backs and passes the highest standard-gauge rail station on earth at Galera! A Sunday Indian market specializes in food, fresh produce, textiles and handicrafts including carved gourds, ponchos and alpaca goods.
Peru Tour Operator: Classical Inca Trail, Short Inca Trail, Salkantay trek, Machu Picchu, Andean tours. Back to top