The Incas forged an incredible civilisation that learned how to tame the geography of Peru. They lived in harmony with the nature rivers, the sun, the rain, the ocean, the jungle, the Peruvian mountains and the cold dryness of the Andes, consequently adapting to the weather, their surroundings and surviving thanks to Mother Earth’s gifts
Temple of the Sun
Many of this civilisation still live today in the towns and their ancestral ways of living is lucidly depicted in their customs. Hence, a trip to Peru takes you back in time and allows you to rediscover the exciting lives of the Incas, Chancas, Chachapoyas, Mochicas, and Wari, as well as their great works of art, their feasts, and the roots of their social strength and the energy of their people.
Here’s how you can make this most unconventional solo trip of yours, the most memorable one as well:
The capital, Lima is an awesome place to begin your adventure. In the heart of Old Lima you can locate the cathedral, museums and the Archbishop’s Palace. The San Francisco church and sepulchres are must; this is the place where local people used to cover their dead under the congregation and you can find the underground caves and view the old skulls and bones. In the main square, the changing of the watchmen happens every day at noon in front of the Presidential Palace. Its fine to investigate the capital amid the day as policeman remain in the city corners however don't wander out during the evening here.
Next in your list should be Cuzco, the oldest inhabited city in South America. It is built in the dip of the valley and stands around 3,400 metres above the sea level. This is where your “time travel” actually starts. Popularly known as “the city of churches”, the town is about tradition and legend. Head to some of the many museums taking advantage of your tourist ticket. If you’re not a much of museum goer, be sure of being one after you visit Museo Historical Regional and Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo. The adventure seekers can find their kick doing mountain biking, hand gliding and white water rafting.
A lush agricultural region located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo is called ‘The Sacred Valley’. Through the valley runs the red walls of the ruins of Pisac, a citadel that once was the entry point for the gorge with rocky overhangs. Several burial sites are hidden here. Also, these open green grounds serve as the market place to hundreds of nearby villagers who gather here in large numbers to showcase and sell their handicrafts and art pieces. Some traditional shopping here will serve as great souvenirs.
Just nearby is the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, a fortress overlooking the beautiful Urubamba River Valley, one of Peru's main attractions. It is one of the biggest and best preserved cities of Peru. Named ‘Fortress of Ollantaytambo’ by the Spaniards, the city has huge steep terraces that guard the fortress. The Temple of the Sun is a highlight here.
The most famous Inca ruin of all times, Aquas Calientes is the small town close to Machu Picchu. The frontier town nestled in the hills gets its name which means ‘hot water’ in Spanish from the hot springs that exists here. The town has a large market and is busy in the day time and equally mystical at night when the mist from the mountains and the sounds of the Vilcanota River echoes around the town.
Take a bus from here to Machu Picchu (meaning ‘Old Mountain’) start early around 5.30am in the morning so you can visit the lost city for its world famous sunrise view. Included in the “seven wonders of the world”, the site was discovered in 1911 by an American historian, Hiram Baingham, and spans over five square kilometres. As a measure to help preserve the environment Peru tourism now restricts the number of visitors to Machu Picchu, hence book in advance for your entry and stay as places are limited. This also applies to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The busiest time is July to August.
Next on cards is the highest city in Peru called Puno at 3830m above sea level. This is the gateway to Lake Titicaca, the Lake No-less than an ocean, which rests on the border of Peru and Bolivia, known as the birthplace of the Incas. The main square is like a mini city where you can buy hats and jumpers for silly prices. The city comes alive with hosting a number of monthly festivals but keep your warms handy, as it gets very cold at night. A visit here is not complete without a boat trip to the floating reed islands of the Uros People who isolated themselves centuries before. From over 35 islands that exist, only a small number are open to visitors. Here you can purchase handmade crafts made by the islanders to support their way of life.