Private Tour of Peru
Peru : Highlights Tour
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Peru’s capital is a fantastic city to tour, dotted with a multitude of cultural sites and beautifully preserved architecture. Founded by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima was first named ‘City of Kings’ – a biblical reference to the ‘Three Wise Men of the East’ – before its name was changed by the Spanish colonialists. The most significant historical buildings are located around the Plaza Mayor, the most notable being the Government Palace, where one can still observe the changing of the guard performed by the Húsares de Junín. The beautiful Cathedral and the various small palaces and colonial balconies also play also their part in the beauty of the city. Another highlight is the famed Larco Herrera Museum, documenting the millennial cultures that preceded the Inca civilization and containing a priceless collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, including some of South America's finest pre-Inca erotic pottery.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas
Also known as Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is located in the Peruvian Andes, beneath the world-famous site of Machu Picchu and not far from Cuzco, the unofficial Inca capital. This fertile valley is fed by a network of waterways and encompasses a wealth of archaeological sites, including Ollantaytambo, renowned for its extensive Inca ruins; Tipon, which features ancient agricultural terracing and a working irrigation system; and Pisac, with its ancient vestiges and colourful weekly market.
Once called the ‘Navel of the World’ by the Incas, Cuzco remains a city that blends colonial Spanish charm with older, more austere remains of pre-Columbian glory – one can still see the foundations of Inca structures on many of its city streets today. Cuzco’s most important landmarks include sites from both Inca and colonial times, such as the Korikancha (the ancient Temple of the Sun), the Inca street of Loreto with its 12-cornered stones, the cathedral, the Museum of Colonial Art, the archaeological park of Saqsaywaman (the fortress-temple), the nearby funerary shrines of Kenqo, and the water-worship site of Tambomachay.
Located more than 6000 feet above sea level in Peru’s mountain peaks, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites. This legendary lofty city was abandoned by the Inca Empire, reclaimed by the jungle and lost to humanity until its rediscovery in 1911. Built by the Incas on the summit of "Machu Picchu" (Old Peak), in the middle of a tropical montane forest overlooking the canyon of the Urubamba, the 'Lost City of Machu Picchu' is a site of extraordinary beauty and enormous archeological significance. The complex reflects the Inca Empire at its height, with giant walls, terraces and ramps that appear to have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The phenomenal technological skills of the Incan engineers can be seen in multiple facets of the site: the exacting precision of the massive stone buildings, the water channels that reveal a deep understanding of hydraulics, and Intihuatana ("the highest point of the Sun"), which served as a solar calendar that regulated planting and harvesting.
Set on the shores of glistening Lake Titicaca, on the Altiplano of Peru, this large city is dubbed the ‘folklore capital' of the country, well known for its traditional music and dance. It is also famous for its incredible collection of floating islands - man-made islands created from reeds, which exhibit the unique survivalist culture that has been alive here since pre-Incan times. Other highlights include visits to the atmospheric, historical Church of San Pedro, the gorgeous Sistine Chapel of the Americas, and a stroll along the boardwalk on the shoreline of Lake Titicaca. Active types should take on the challenge to climb up the 700 steps to the Kuntur Wasi viewpoint, which is presided over by a massive metal condor sculpture, for the reward of breathtaking vistas across the city and Lake Titicaca beyond.
The Uros islands provide the top attraction at Lake Titicaca, which straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes Mountains. Created entirely with the floating totara reeds of the lake, the islands are home to a unique and ancient community, the Uru or Uros people, who built the islands to escape their enemies (the Inca). The community also uses the reeds to make their homes, boats and beautiful crafts, which they sell to tourists. Visitors can even spend a night in a local home, or take a variety of tours - usually with a translator - to converse with the people. Boat tours through the islands are another atmospheric way to see the gorgeous scenery and the Lake Titicaca National Reserve. The area is also home to some spectacular birdlife - be sure to bring a camera.
Central Andes Peru
Sandwiched between the tourist hotspot of Cusco and the hiking mecca of Huaraz lies Peru’s Andean mountains, known as the ‘Central Andes’. These remote mountains reveal an authentic side of Peru, where visitors can look forward to exploring this off the beaten track area and venture into traditional Peru. Highlights include Ayacucho with its captivating colonial churches and fascinating museums, local specialities, incredible views, adventurous local bus rides, the Wari ruins, the Río Mantaro valley, the fantastic high-quality handicrafts, and more.
Huayllabamba is located in the province of Urubamba, in the Cusco region of southern in Peru. Situated 15 minutes away from Urubamba, the town is well known for the quality and size of the corn from the fields. Huayllabamba celebrates the virgin Natividad or Mamacha Natacha every September 7th, with dancers and processions. The popular festivity features lots of color, dance, music and food.
Situated high in the Andes Mountains on the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is considered the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. The area was once a stronghold of Inca culture – and this ancient legacy is still evident in the many Inca ruins dotted across the shoreline, as well as the vibrant traditional handwoven textiles and clothes. Among the lake’s most popular attractions are the 42 floating reed islands of the Uros people, accessible from Puno in the east. On Santa Maria, the largest of these, tourists can arrange tours into private local homes to experience traditional culture.
Andean Altiplan (Peru)
Spread over Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, the Altiplano, an Andean plateau (Spanish for ‘high plain’) lies in west-central South America. This is ‘where the Andes are at their widest and the most extensive area of high plateau on Earth outside Tibet’. The magnificent canyons, peaks, marshlands and lakes provide a wonderland for adventure tourists to explore, with abundant opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. Explorers may spot llamas, foxes, and several species of flamingos, which appear as swathes of pink on the salt flats. Once home to the legendary Inca Empire, this spectacular area provides the chance to immerse yourself in a variety of cultures and heritages. Stark and diverse landscapes, small rural villages of traditional communities, and clear night skies make this a beloved destination for photographers.