Spend Some Time in These Five Peruvian Cities

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If this post is a little shorter than usual, it is because I am currently somewhere in the Caucasus. I’ll be back next week (provided I don’t die in the interim) with a full report on my doings.  In the meantime, here are five cities in Peru that are perfect for a staycation.

 

Lima

 

Lima can grow on you if you give it time
For most travelers, Lima is nothing more than a stopover on the way to other destinations in Peru.  This is a shame because while the city isn’t exactly pretty, given time, it can really grow on you.  For starters, Lima has world-class restaurants where you can sample such Peruvian delicacies as ceviche and chifa, a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine.  It is also home to some rather impressive ruins, including the pre-Inca site of Pachacamac just 40 km south of the city.

 

Cusco

 

Machu Picchu can easily be reached by train from Cusco
There is no finer example of colonial architecture in Peru than Cusco, and while it can get crowded with as many as 2 million visitors treading its well-worn cobblestone streets, it still retains its charm.  Once the center of the Inca Empire, much of its indigenous architecture was destroyed by the conquistadors.  Nevertheless, the surrounding countryside is littered with archeological sites, many of which are situated in the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas.  Not to mention the fabled Machu Picchu is just a day-trip away. And yes, it lives up to the hype.

 

Iquitos

 

Iquitos has fascinating markets
Undoubtedly, one of Peru’s most interesting places, the island city of Iquitos is only accessible by boat or plane.  A metropolis in the heart of the rainforest, Iquitos is Peru’s gateway to the Amazon.  Like Lima, travelers tend to spend only a day here before jumping on a boat to head into the jungle.  But from its markets stocked with rainforest products to an entire iron house built by Gustave Eiffel, Iquitos is chalk full of history and culture.

 

Arequipa

 

There is excellent hiking around Colca canyon
Situated at the foot of the Andes, Arequipa has a dry, pleasant climate. After an earthquake in 1868, most of the city was reconstructed following its own unique school of architecture.  Arequipa makes for an excellent base for weekend hikes, including up the 6000-meter high Chachani mountain or down the Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest.  Condors can also be spotted frequently in the area most of the year.

 

Trujillo

 

Ceviche most likely originated with the Moche people
Trujillo is another pleasant colonial city situated on the Pacific in the North of Peru. Slightly off the main tourist trail, it has a bit more authentic feel to it than Cuzco or Arequipa.  It is a wonderful place to kick back and relax while enjoying the surf and excellent ceviche, which originated in the surrounding area.  It is also home to the Moche and Chimu cultures, including Chan Chan, a pre-Inca UNESCO world heritage site.
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