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Peru is much more than Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu looking thru an Inca doorway

I recently had the honor to see one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the grand Machu Picchu in Peru.  It is a place that only the brave visit for the bus ride up the mountain is besieged with narrow bumpy roads that snake along a railless edge.  But, if you can get past that the view when you reach the top is absolutely stunning.  The hazy mountain peaks surrounding the ancient site whistle softly in the wind and the tightly fit, finely-cut rock ruins lazily sit as a testament to its indestructible nature. If you don’t hike the Inca trail up you can ride the Belmond Hiram Bingham train that brings travelers from their Sacred Valley destination into Machu Picchu. It is a fun experience as you dine and watch the landscape move into Amazon rainforest terrain. I found Machu Picchu is truly an experience worth the effort. 


Beyond Machu Picchu, however, is a country full of vast differences mixing the old with the new.  Lima, a city of over 11 million people, holds many treasures.  It is the vibrant capital of Peru with don’t-miss places such as the Santo Domingo Covent, The Aliaga House built by the Spanish conqueror Pizzarro’s neighbors, and the Miraflores district which tracks along the gorgeous shores of the South Pacific Ocean offering views of expert surfers.


Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, also is a city that melds modern and ancient and perches on an elevation of 11,200 ft.  At this height travelers need to consider altitude sickness – an illness (headaches/dizziness/heart flutters) that affects some and not others no matter your age or health. Luckily, altitude medication and coca leaf tea help travelers get back on their feet which is good because there are array of old churches, great restaurants, narrow streets and lively markets to visit.


You are also likely to find llamas, alpaca, and sheep traipsing around ancient sites and mountain areas. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to understand how their wool is harvested, spun, dyed with natural elements, and woven into intricate, colorful clothing. It is good to understand and feel what the real deal is so you don’t get talked into buying a fake.  Generally, Peruvian goods are very well priced so make sure to leave room in your suitcase for all the treasures you’ll bring back.


Peru is also known as foodie’s paradise.  Don’t miss the ceviche, cuy (guinea pig), potatoes (4000 varieties!), alpaca, and beautiful appetizers and desserts. You certainly won’t go hungry in Peru. Luckily, with all the mountain hiking and walking to ancient sites you might even out the odds.

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