Find Yourself in South America: Peru
Peru. It’s all about Machu Picchu, right? Well, right and wrong. It’s without a doubt that Machu Picchu is one of the most popular destinations in the world (and with good reason, too), but a trip to Peru is so much more than that! Interesting and varied for many other reasons, here are some must-sees to do in Peru. Disclaimer: Machu Picchu is included in this list.
Ica was one of the first few places I visited when I was living in Peru. An initial thought I had as I looked out from my rooftop apartment was that I had somehow been transported to Tatooine. Sand everywhere, and the weather was scorching hot. It was only later I found out that Ica is actually situated on the border of the Atacama desert, which is one of the driest places on the planet.
Related Article: The Top 6 Treks in Peru Beyond the Inca Trail
The name, Ica, is the name of the region as well as its capital city. The city attracts thousands of tourists each year because of La Huacachina (an oasis in the desert) and its proximity to Pisco (a popular beach area) and Nazca (the Nazca Lines). While you’re there, don’t forget to try sandboarding.
Cusco and the Sacred Valley
If you’re going on a holiday in Peru, chances are your tour will kick-start its journey in Cusco. From here you will have access to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and, of course, Machu Picchu. Before heading to Machu Picchu, it’s wise to take a day or two to acclimatize. The elevation in Cusco is 11,152 feet, whereas the sea level of Machu Picchu is 7,972 feet, and the highest point in Lima is 1,312 feet. So, coming from Lima can be quite a shock to your body, but once you’re acclimatized in Cusco, you’ll do just fine at Machu Picchu.
There are plenty of things to do in Cusco, including visiting the famous Plaza de Armas (the Sun Temple) in Qorikancha. On the outskirts of the city, you’ll see Sacsayhuaman, an amazing fortified complex made of huge stones.
Once you’re ready, the Sacred Valley of the Incas awaits you! There are many tours to bring you to prominent sites like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Pisac offers you an amazing view of the ancient ruins and hillside terraces, while Ollantaytambo gives you sites like Inca Fortress that’s set atop a hillside.
There will be plenty of opportunities to find Peruvian wares and souvenirs along the way. Have fun haggling with the locals! Keep in mind that these people are very humble and a lot of them fed off the money they earned by selling these knick-knacks.
One of the great wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is not to be missed. After flying to Cusco and possibly suffering from altitude sickness, you might feel a bit tired and lethargic. For those who aren’t affected by the travel, I advise you to get up early to catch the first bus to the ruins of Machu Picchu.
You’ll be among the first to witness the magnificent ruins before the crowds come pouring in. You’ll also be amazed at how mysterious everything looks at the wee hour of the day. Marvel at the sunrise and ascend to Huayna Picchu – the big peak that overlooks the ruins of Machu Picchu.
Note: The rules are constantly changing here at Machu Picchu. Make sure to keep yourself up to date before visiting it.
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By Our Walker Travel
Ben and Lauren are the dynamic duo behind Our Walker Travel. They enjoy sharing interesting places they’ve been to and tips and tricks of how to make your travel a smooth sailing one.