Updated: Mar 12
One of my favourite travel destinations in South America is Peru. It is a travel photographer's paradise! With its patchwork terraces, delicious food such as Cerviche and its beautiful people. I love the culture and its colourful outlook through textiles, food, and much more! From watching the animated cartoon series Mysteries Cities of Gold in my younger years, I dreamed of visiting the lost cities of the Incas. You may know about the lost wonder of the world Machu Picchu but have you heard about Ollantaytambo and the pre-Inca site - Huaca Pucllana?
Wild Vicuna at 5,000 feet in the Andes ©MDHarding
A to Z Travel Blog - Peru
Traveling To Peru
We flew from Edinburgh via Amsterdam and onto Lima with KLM. The flights were smooth with great service. Internal flights with Lan Airlines were really comfortable too.
Both the flights and the 16 days/14 night Incas & Conquistadors + Condors & Convents + Lake Titicaca were booked with Llama Travel based in the UK with the travel company Condor providing it in Peru.
There are pros and cons when traveling with a pre-booked tour. We had limited time and this tour ticked all the boxes for us with a lot of the elements being adaptable, small groups, and giving us plenty of time to explore areas on our own.
The social and economic centre of Peru - Lima has interesting museums and several pre-Inca sites in and around the city including Huaca Pucllana. We thoroughly enjoyed walking this site and discovering its historic past, as well as visiting the Larco Museum.
If visiting and wondering what do to in the evening don't miss The Magic Water Circuit in Lima. The historic 19-acre park is home to 13 illuminated fountains. The main fountain has a musical choreographed performance at 7.15 pm, 8.15 pm, and again at 9.15 pm.
We stayed at the modern Casa Andina Select, Lima
Lima, Peru ©MDHarding
Arequipa is Peru's second-largest city with must-see and do's including Santa Catalina Convent, probably the most interesting colonial building in Peru. Also don't miss the excellent Andean Sanctuary Museum containing the remains of a mummified Inca child that was sacrificed, found close to the summit of nearby volcanoes.
We stayed at the San Agustin Posada del Monasterio, Arequipa. A few minutes walk to both the Santa Catalina Convent and also the Andean Sanctuary Museum.
Arequipa, Peru ©MDHarding
Colca Canyon is one of the highest locations in Peru, famous for its incredible sightings of the Andean Condors.
We stayed at the Colca Canyon Lodge a few minutes drive from the viewpoint at Colca Canyon. The luxury accommodation provides individual lodges with views across the landscaped gardens. The hot spring pool is a great place to relax after a full day's bus travel.
Cusco, one of the highest cities in Peru at 10800 ft (3300 M) above sea level, is located in the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. Where once the capital of the Inca empire, the city was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983. Today, explore the popular tourist destination filled with Spanish colonial architecture, museums such as the Qorikancha displaying artifacts from pottery through to paintwork and textiles as well as much more.
While in Cusco we visited the Chocolate Museum and Coca Museum both were really interesting but also limited in the amount of information in English.
We stayed at the San Agustin Internacional Hotel, Cusco. It is very authentic with comfortable bedrooms including decorative textile bed throws. Only a few minutes' walk away from the main square and attractions.
On the shores of Lake Titicaca is the bustling town of Puno with restaurants and markets. Some points of interest include Yavari, a 19th-century English steamship that was being restored. There are several pretty colonial towns on the south-eastern side of the lake, with incredible 16th-century churches.
Don't miss a boat trip out to the beautiful reed islands on Lake Titicaca. These are incredible! Witness how the local people live on these natural islands and how they are anchored down, so as not to float across the border to Bolivia! There is also the opportunity to visit the Uros Islands and Taquile Island.
We stayed at the Casa Andina Private Collection Puno, located on the waterfront with a cozy sitting room with a log burner for those chilly nights.
The most popular site to visit is the iconic Machu Picchu, re-discovered over 100 years ago by the American historian Hiram Bingham. It is important to sustain and protect this historic site. Today only a limited number of visitors can explore this treasured site as well as the challenge of walking the Inca Trail.
We opted to stay at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel located in the town of Aguas Calientes where you can then take the hair-raising bus journey up the mountain to the "lost city" - Machu Picchu. There we explored during the day before returning down the mountain to enjoy our two-night stay. The following day kept to explore the magical landscaped gardens, watch the hummingbirds and see the spectacled bears within the hotel grounds.
We only wish we could have spent another few days in the area to explore further. Highly recommend staying in the beautiful Inkaterra Machu Picchu.
Don't miss the journey on the Andean Explorer Train with its glass-walled observation car, to enjoy the incredible scenery.
Machu Picchu Terrace ©MDHarding
We traveled at the beginning of May and found the temperatures to vary depending on the altitude.
I would recommend taking a fleece for those chiller earlier starts and evenings. Most days were comfortably warm. There are no words to describe just how memorable this trip was! Truly awesome doesn't quite capture the landscape, animals, and culture. We would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Would you be interested in a Peruvian day/evening event in Edinburgh? Where you could sample Peru's national drink the Pisco Sour, a close encounter with an Alpaca, and more? If yes, when would be the best month?
I hope you have enjoyed reading and looking forward to reading your comments/questions on one of our favourite travel destinations - Peru.
Until next time, happy Travels:) x