Machu Picchu - one of the wonders of the world

Peru: historic sites not to miss

Peru is one country that’s always fascinated me, as there are so many amazing historical sites located here. Everyone’s heard of Machu Picchu, but there are plenty of other landmarks worth seeing on a trip to the country too.
I’ve put together a selection of the sites that I’d most want to visit if I was embarking on a tour of the country, including one or two that are a little off the beaten tourist trail.

Machu Picchu - one of the wonders of the world
1. Machu Picchu

This Inca enclave in the Andes Mountains is near the top of most travellers’ to-do lists, and with good reason. Machu Picchu is an amazing sight to behold – I can only imagine the breathtaking views you get of the ruins as you complete the Inca Trail and head towards the settlement for a closer look.
What makes Machu Picchu so special is that it was never discovered by the Spanish, so the buildings weren’t deconstructed in the same way that they were in other Inca cities. In fact, it wasn’t until 1912 that an American explorer (Hiram Bingham) came across the ruins and shared his discovery with the rest of the world.
The best way to reach Machu Picchu is by following the Inca Trail, as this four-day hike leads you past numerous other sites left by this fascinating civilisation, before ending in the amazing mountain-top ruins. If you’re interested in joining a walking trip, you’ll find more information here.

2. Nazca Lines

While the Incas are the most famous of the civilisations that used to control Peru, they were not the only society to create astounding landmarks. The Nazca people, whose society developed around 300 BC, left a lasting impression in the desert of the Nazca Plains.
They drew huge images – the largest of which is 984 ft long – of a range of figures, including a monkey, condor, hummingbird and spider, all of which are only visible from the air at an altitude of at least 15,000 ft. As the Nazcas are not believed to have had the technology to fly, historians are baffled as to how they created such accurate depictions of a host of creatures, as well as to why they were drawn.
As you can imagine, the only way to see these amazing artworks is from the air, so booking a flight over the Nazca Plains would certainly be on my itinerary if I travelled to Peru.

3. Chan Chan

Chan Chan is a huge mud-brick fortress that was constructed by the Chimu kingdom, which was a prominent society in the north of Peru between 700 and 1400 AD. Chan Chan itself spans 20 sq km and is the largest pre-Hispanic citadel made from such materials in the country.
The maze of alleyways and streets looks astounding, so I think it would be a really fun place to explore. Essentially the complex is made up of a selection of cities, each with its own entrance, which means there is a lot to see here. The walls of the fort are covered in friezes and carvings, too, so you’ll find something amazing around every turn.

4. Espiritu Pampa

This is one historical attraction in Peru that isn’t often on traveller’s itineraries, which makes it all the more exciting to explore. This archaeological site is situated deep in the Peruvian jungle and is not often visited by tourists.
It was, in fact, the last enclave of the Incas, which only serves to add to its importance. You’ll trek through the lowlands of the Villacamba region to reach it, and when you get there, you’ll discover that much of what remains of the city is still hidden by jungle. I think you’ll feel like a real explorer as you wander around the ruins, looking for signs of the remaining buildings in the undergrowth.

Peru - on top of the world

Experience Peru without the holiday bug

There are more than a few reasons why travellers are flocking to Peru: not only is it home to some of South America’s most fascinating archaeological sites, its diverse cuisine is starting to garner attention on a worldwide spectrum. From culture and adventure tourism to beach holidays and city breaks, Peru is a growing tourist destination you won’t want to miss. What do you need to know before you pack up your bags and fly south? Let’s take a look.

Peru - on top of the world

Where to Go and What to Do

Peru’s star attraction is the Incan archaeological site Machu Picchu, which recently received the distinction of being named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Most newcomers to Peru concentrate on a trip to Machu Picchu (either by train or on a multi-day trek), the Sacred Valley, and the nearby city of Cuzco, the historic heart of the Incan empire and home to a score of other important archaeological sites.

But Machu Picchu isn’t the only attraction that Peru has to offer. The country is also home to the mysterious Nazca Lines, the world’s second deepest canyon, Colca Canyon, and the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca. If your schedule allows, you could also choose to get up close and personal to some exotic wildlife in the Amazonian cities of Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos.

Finally, Peru’s coastline is not to be missed. There, you’ll find plenty of surf and sand as well as some scrumptious seafood. Check out its capital city, Lima, for fine dining, fun nightlife, and musuems and attractions that will give you a glimpse of the city’s colonial past. The beach towns in the north of Peru—Mancora and Punta Sal—are the best spots to visit if you’re looking to get a little sun on your trip.

Health and Safety in Peru

Your visit to Peru will be packed with things to see and do, so you won’t want any malady to spoil your adventures. Before you depart, make sure that you’re up-to-date on the immunizations that NHS Choices recommends for travel to Peru; these are especially important if you’re travelling to the jungle regions of the country.

While the country’s culinary diversity is sure to make your mouth water, in order to avoid getting the holiday bug while you’re there, you’ll need to take a few precautions. Avoid drinking water from the tap. Buy bottled water instead, or boil water and let it cool before drinking it to remove any impurities. You should also avoid eating uncooked foods such as vegetables, fruits, and raw fish—at least until your stomach adjusts to the cuisine. While it may be tempting, it’s best to avoid food from street vendors and dairy products that have not been pasteurised.

As an added precaution, you may want to buy special traveller’s insurance and pack a travel health kit that includes diarrhoea medication, antacids, and iodine tablets.