Our Peru Guide...
Explore the land of the Incas with us
Machu Picchu, Peru
Culture & History
When you think of Peru, your first thoughts are probably of lost Inca cities high in the cloud forest of the Andes, and no-one would begrudge you those. But for those in the know, there's so much more to Peru than that...
If amazing wildlife or stunning natural scenery is what you're looking for in a holiday, then the pristine rainforest of the Amazon basin, the majestic vistas of Colca Canyon or the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca might be what catches your eye.
Or if you're more interested in Peru's fascinating history and traditional culture, you might like to explore the Inca heartland of the Sacred Valley, the prehistoric pyramids of the pre-Inca north, or the majestic colonial architecture on show in towns like Arequipa.
And for a change of pace, why not investigate how modern Peruvians are bringing their heritage and traditions into the modern era by enjoying some of the world-beating fusion restaurants and avant garde galleries in vibrant cities like Lima and Cusco?
Choose a Theme
Our pick of the top places to visit on your holiday in Peru.
Our guide to Peru's amazing wildlife and stunning scenery.
From the enigmatic Nazca Lines to the Inca heartland around Machu Picchu...
Just between us... Our top tips for getting off the beaten track.
Culture and History in Peru
Few countries can boast a history or a cultural tradition as rich and varied as that of Peru. The first cities in Peru date back to around 3000BC, making them some of the oldest cities on Earth, and the historical story of Peru over the centuries is one of mighty empires rising and falling, culminating in the most famous of them all, the Inca Empire.
The Incas may be the most famous of Peru's pre-Conquest inhabitants, but they're far from being the whole story. Although no holiday in Peru is complete without a visit to Machu Picchu and the other impressive Inca sites in the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba, it's even better if you can fit in some time to appreciate the cultures which came before the Incas as well.
For example, the enigmatic Nazca Lines - vast geometric designs in the desert so big that you can only see them from the air, were constructed in around 500BC, while the Moche and Paracas cultures date even further back, and the archaeological digs at Caral and Bandurria date all the way back to 3000BC. The north of Peru is particularly rich in pre-Inca sites, and sites like the Lord of Sipan burial near Chiclayo and the Moche ruins at Chan Chan just outside Trujillo are both accessible and fascinating.
What's so special about Peru, however, is the way that the different cultures have been preserved and built on top of each other, so that in Cusco, you can see Spanish colonial churches built right next to, or even re-using, massive Inca stone walls. Even in Lima, with its towering skyscrapers and modern urban sprawl, you can visit the wonderfully-preserved sacred site of Pachacamac and the temple mound of the Huaca Pucllana which date back to at least 500AD, as well as the stunning colonial architecture of the historic centre.
In fact, although the legacy of the Conquistadores is controversial for many reasons, there is no doubt that they left behind some beautiful buildings, and there are few more pleasant ways to spend an afternoon in Peru than wandering around Arequipa's Santa Catalina convent or the beautiful colonial centres of towns like Ayacucho, Cusco and Trujillo.
Peru's Natural World
Peru is blessed with some of the most spectacular environments in the world, from the snow-capped peaks of the high Andes to the lush green rainforest of the Amazon basin. The enormous differences in geography and climate mean that the variety of wildlife you can see is just as amazing...
If you're at all interested in wildlife then the Amazon jungle is probably near the top of your holiday checklist, and Peru has some superb jungle lodges where you can stay deep in the rainforest and explore the jungle with the help of expert local guides who know every inch of the terrain. The mighty River Amazon itself is up in the north of Peru, and we have some superb extended holidays travelling into the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve but it is rather inaccessible so if you just want to spend a few days in the jungle then we usually recommend the southern Tambopata Reserve instead, as it still offers pristine rainforest and fantastic wildlife but fits in a little more easily with visits to other areas of Peru.
Another popular area for wildlife-lovers is Colca Canyon, just outside the southern city of Arequipa. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca is home to the giant Andean Condors which are the national symbol of Peru, as well as herds of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas. It's also the ultimate source of the River Amazon!
Colca is part of the foothills of the Andes mountains, which run the entire length of Peru, and they offer some of the most spectacular mountain scenery anywhere in the world. The famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu offers some stunning views, but the even higher peaks of the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash in the Central Andes are even more impressive, with the Huayhuash in particular offering possibly the best high-altitude trekking in the world. Or you could enjoy the peace, tranquility, and breathtaking views of Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia.
For something completely different, you can head down to the coast and visit the Ballestas Islands, often known as Peru's "baby Galapagos". Here, and in the neighbouring Paracas Nature Reserve, you can see sea-lions, seals, dolphins and huge numbers of sea-birds like penguins and flamingos. There are some good beach hotels in Paracas as well, although the best of the beaches in Peru are further up the coast around Mancora and Punta Sal.
Medical Advice for Peru
If you're wondering what jabs or immunisations you need for Peru, then you might be pleasantly surprised. For most of our holidays in Peru, you're unlikely to need anything more than a check that your usual boosters are up-to-date. Even if you're visiting the Amazon rainforest then you may already be covered by existing immunisations, but check our our medical guide for Peru to make sure.
Guide to Tipping and Currency in Peru
Peru is a dual-currency country, which means you can use a mixture of US dollars and the local currency, the nuevo sol. This can be very handy, but can also make working out costs for things like tipping even more of a minefield than usual. Check out our guide to currency in Peru to see how to make sense of it all.
Language Guide to Peru
Obviously all your guides and drivers in Peru will be English-speaking, but it's always nice to have something of the local language under your belt as well. Happily, Peruvian Spanish is very similar to any Spanish you might have learned in Europe, and our Peru language guide will make sure you can at least ask for that all-important Pisco Sour...
Climate and Weather in Peru
With a huge variety of geography and climate, it can be hard working out when is the best time to visit Peru, and depending on where you want to go on your holiday, there's not always a simple answer. Take a look at our guide to weather in Peru to see what will work best for you.
Food and Drink in Peru
We're delighted that the world is finally catching on to all the delights of Peruvian food, as we've been going on about it for years! Eating out is one of the great things about any holiday in Peru, so check out our guide to food in Peru or our Peruvian recipes if you fancy trying them for yourself at home...