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Peru

Boasting no less than ten UNESCO World Heritage sites and ranking amongst the world's top eight nations in terms of biodiversity, any travel to Peru will allow you to enjoy a land of contrasts and a country brimming with culture, legend, folklore and fascination. We are Australia's Peru expert. From the dryness of the Atacama Desert to the frozen ice-capped peaks of the Andes. Across the waters of Lake Titicaca, to the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, scattered remnants of ancient civilizations bring the incredible history of Latin America alive. The jewel in Peru’s crown is the legendary Machu Picchu, one of the Wonders of the World. Whether you are looking for archaeology or adventure, you will find it all in one of Chimu Adventures’ Peru tours.

Travel with your mind at ease. Our offices in Lima and in the Inca capital Cusco are on call to make sure your vacation is one to remember. See below our suggested itineraries or design your own. Contact us

Click here for more detailed information about travel in Peru including advice about the best time to travel.

Regular Travel, Tours and Trips

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Trekking Travel, Tours and Trips

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Chimu Collections Experiences Travel, Tours and Trips

The Chimu Collections range consists of boutique properties, cruises & itineraries, throughout Latin America, designed for travellers seeking unique experiences.

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Places to Visit

Need more information about the travel options within Peru? Click on the below links to find out more about the major destinations to consider when planning your trip to Peru.

  • The North of Peru

    The North of Peru

    If you’re looking for an off the beaten track experience then this is the place for you.

  • Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu – The Highlands

    Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu – The Highlands

    Cusco and Machu Picchu are clearly the most popular destinations of Peru.

  • Lima, Pisco, Nazca, Arequipa and Colca Canyon - The Southern Coastal Area

    Lima, Pisco, Nazca, Arequipa and Colca Canyon - The Southern Coastal Area

    The Southern Coastal Area has some different cities with their own cultural sites.

  • The Amazon

    The Amazon

    Puerto Maldonado in Peru is the most accessible place from which to visit the Amazon Jungle.

  • Lake Titicaca, Puno & the Uros Islands

    Lake Titicaca, Puno & the Uros Islands

    The Uros people live on floating totora reed islands on the Titicaca lake, complete with houses, schools and shops.

Country Information

Some Interesting Facts
  • It is believed that the first people to inhabit Peru arrived more than 12’000 years ago.
  • The potato was first domesticated in Southern Peru sometime between 8000 and 5000 B.C.
  • The 160 or so Spanish Conquistadors who conquered the Inca Empire became rich beyond their wildest dreams. This inspired thousands of poor Europeans to try their luck, and so began the myth of ‘El Dorado’, an imaginary South American kingdom full of gold, invented by desperate, gold-hungry men.
  • The word ‘Peru’ is believed to have come from one of the very first encounters that the Spanish had with Peru’s indigenous people in the north of the country. When the Spanish asked what the area was called, the indigenous answered ‘Viru’, which was pronounced ‘Peru’ by the Spanish.
  • Peru’s population is now over 30 million.
  • Lima is the 2nd largest capital to be located in the desert (after Cairo), with approximately 9 million people.
  • Lima’s University of San Marcos was founded in 1551: the oldest institution of higher learning in South America.
  • Japanese-descendant Alberto Fujimori was Peru’s president from 1990 to 2000. In 2009 Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for overseeing death squads that killed at least 25 people.
  • Peru is still a very catholic country today. Almost every Peruvian town has its own patron saint and they hold annual celebrations to celebrate their own patron saint’s birthday.
  • The ultimate source of the Amazon River is in Peru, at 5’316 metres above sea level.
  • It almost never rains in Lima, although a heavy mist does appear every winter. It’s called ‘garua’ and is caused by warm winds interacting with the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Peru’s Cotahuasi Canyon of Peru is the world’s deepest. This is closely followed by Peru’s Colca Canyon. The Grand Canyon comes in third place, at only about half as deep as Colca.
  • Peru’s railway line climbs as high as 4’829 metres above sea level, making it the highest standard-gauge railway in the world.
  • Bordering the countries of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, sitting at 3810 metres above sea level. Approximately 60% of the lake is in Peru and 40% in Bolivia.
  • The classic Inca Trail closes every year for the month of February, which tends to be the month with most rain. This closure allows the trail to be cleaned and maintained. Machu Picchu itself stays open all year round.
  • Often called the ‘’Lost City of Machu Picchu’’, hundreds of holiday-makers from around the world visit this major tourist attraction every day of the year. The current maximum number of visitors allowed to enter the site is 2500 per day.
  • ‘Inca Cola’ boasts a bigger market share in Peru than Coca Cola does in the USA. It has become a drink of national identity for Peruvians.
A brief History

Peru is an absolute archaeological treasure. A number of highly established civilisations developed in Peru from around 3000 B.C. including the Norte Chico, Chavin, Nazca, Moche, Chimu, Wari and Chachpoyas. The Incas didn’t begin their regional expansion until 1200 A.D, eventually conquring a vast empire stretching all the way from Chile to Ecuador.

Francisco Pizarro and his Spanish Conquistadors landed in Peru in 1531 and after a series of battles finally conquered the Incan Empire, capturing Cusco in 1533. From then until the early 19th century the Viceroyalty of Peru was a loyal colony of Spain and a great source of Spanish wealth. The Spanish exported an enormous amount of gold back to Spain.

In 1810 Peru was liberated from Spanish rule by Argentinean Jose de San Martin and Venezuelan Simon Bolivar. Independence was claimed in 1821 and Peru has been a Republic ever since.

Bolivar tried, unsuccessfully, to form the State of Gran Colombia which would include present-day Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. For a hundred years thereafter civil war, unrest and revolutions were frequent.

In 1844 Ramon Castilla became president. He abolished slavery, established an organised education system and promoted the extraction of guano (seabird droppings) for exportation, which brought great prosperity to Peru.

A new war was fought and won with Spain in 1864-66 and the War of the Pacifics was fought with Chile from 1879 to 1883, which resulted in Peru losing significant amounts of lucrative nitrate fields in the northern Atacama Desert.

Geography

Peru is split into three distinct geographical areas. On the western side, the Pacific coast includes the big sprawling city of Lima and other major cities. Moving inland, the Andes Mountain range runs through the middle of the country and to the east is an almost endless expanse of jungle – the Amazon. Each region is starkly different, with different eco-systems and climates.

The Pacific coast is comprised of arid to semi-arid desert. The Andes are made up of 2 distinct mountain ranges: the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental, including Peru’s highest mountain (Nevado Huascaran at 6768 metres above sea level). Between the mountain ranges are fertile valleys and high plateaus. Many of the valleys, such as the famous ‘Sacred Valley’ near to Cusco, are used for cultivating corn, beans and vegetables. The high plateaus (called the altiplano) are more suited to cultivating quinoa and raising livestock. To the East the vast Amazon Basin is an area of tropical lowlands drained by the Maranon and Ucayali Rivers.

Peru has had its fair share of earthquakes and mild volcanic activity. Historically its active volcanoes have included El Misti, Huaynaputina, Sabancaya and Yucamane.

Ubinas, at 5672 metres, is considered Peru’s most active volcano right now. Its last eruption was in 2009.

Peru’s natural resources include: copper, silver, gold, iron ore, petroleum, timber, fish, coal, phosphate and natural gas.

Culture

Peruvian culture varies greatly from one end of the country to the other. The highlands are home to millions of highland Indians who speak their own languages and maintain a very traditional way of life. The Amazon basin is home to remote tribes who have little or no contact with society. The coastal strip which includes the capital and other big cities is home to the vast majority of Peru’s ‘criollos’, a word that has come to describe the syncretic culture of the Pacific coast. Peru has a very multiethnic population due to its combination of influences: Indigenous blood, Spanish colonisation, African slaves and finally immigration from countries such as China, Japan, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Britain, France and others. All these influences have helped to shape Peru’s culture as we know it today.

Spanish, being the first language of Peru, is spoken by more than 80% of the population. Quechua (the Inca tongue) is spoken by approximately 16%. In recent years an increased effort has been made to promote all the indigenous languages. Aymara was made an official language in the Puno / Lake Titicaca region and around 150 other indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country, although the exact number cannot be determined.

Peru’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic; however the Indigenous Peruvians have blended Catholicism with their traditional beliefs, creating a fascinating mix. An example is the almost synonymous association of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and the Virgin Mary. This blending not only aided the plight of the Spanish in evangelizing the natives, but it also seems to have also helped to create a cultural compromise of sorts in Peru. Today western medicine is practiced alongside traditional medicine (natural healers and midwifes). Coffee is served alongside coca-leaf tea. Spanish is spoken together with Indigenous languages.

Likewise, Peru’s music is a total amalgamation of sounds and rhythms, drawing on Indigenous, European and African influences and Peru’s incredible gastronomy combines delicious native ingredients with European, Asian and African influences, resulting in some of the most delicious dishes that have ever been created. Interestingly enough, one of the country’s most popular every-day foods is a fusion of Asian and Indigenous influences, called ‘chifa’.

Peruvians identify themselves proudly with their innovative culinary creations, as well as their impressive historical achievements and their stunningly beautiful landscape. They share a love of nature, discovery, music, dance, celebrations, eating, drinking and being merry. Peruvians are proud of their roots. Inca Cola is a great testament to this. It’s branding continues to reaffirm Peruvian’s creative and ingenuous national identity with slogans such as: ‘With creativity everything is possible’. All Peruvians, even if they don’t like Inca Cola, can relate to this!

Economy

Peru’s economy reflects its varied topography. Its cold coastal waters, influenced by the Humboldt Current, provide excellent fishing grounds and Peru is one of the world’s biggest producers of fishmeal.

Whereas the mountainous areas are home to an enormous amount of important mineral resources (including copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver). Peru is the world’s 2nd largest producer of silver and 3rd largest producer of copper. Other important exports include crude petroleum, petroleum products, textiles and coffee.

The Peruvian economy has been growing at an average rate of 5-6% in past years, with a stable exchange rate and low inflation. This high growth has been due partly to high international prices for metal and mineral exports, which account for almost 60% of the country’s total exports.

However despite Peru’s strong macro-economic performance, dependence on metal and mineral exports and imported foodstuffs makes the country vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices.

Poverty has been reduced by 28% since 2002, but inequality is still an issue.

Since 2006 Peru has signed trade deals with many countries including the USA, China, Korea, Japan, the EU, Turkey and many Latin American countries. The Pacific Alliance (which includes Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico) now rivals Mercosur.

Politics

Peru is a constitutional republic, divided into regions which are further divided into provinces and districts. There are 25 regions, not including Lima (which is its own province). Peru has 195 provinces and 1840 districts. Universal suffrage is granted to those 18 years of age and is compulsory until the age of 70.

Peru was known for political instability throughout the 1900s, particularly during the 80’s and 90’s when conflict arose between the state and leftist guerrilla groups: the Maoist group ‘Sendero Luminoso’ (the Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

From the early 1900s Peru has always aligned itself with the USA. A left-wing military junta seized power in 1968, but Peru returned to democracy in 1980. However the country’s economy was not healthy. Fierce austerity programs were introduced by then-president Alan Garcia, which provoked a series of nation-wide strikes coupled with a violent insurgency by the Shining Path. This unrest continued into the 90’s as Japanese-descendent Alberto Fujimori became president.

In 1992, Shining Path’s inspirational leader was finally captured. This capture in effect disbanded the movement and in 1994 approximately 6000 Shining Path guerrillas surrendered to the authorities. Although the Shining Path continues to have a small political following today, it is a fraction of its former size and not seen as a major threat. Peru is currently enjoying a sustained period of relatively uninterrupted peace.

Elected in 2011, the current president of Peru is former army officer, Ollanta Humala (who narrowly defeated Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori). During this election Humala down-played his radical views and portrayed himself as a ‘moderate leftist’. Humala is continuing the free trade and market-oriented economic policies of the three proceeding administrations and he vows to help poor Peruvians.

For all its flaws, Peru’s democratic regime is now at its longest-lived in the country’s history and it is widely believed that this time it looks likely to continue.

Famous Peruvians
  • Saint Rose of Lima – First Catholic Saint of the Americas
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, Ricardo Palma – Authors
  • Gaston Acurio – Chef
  • Juan Diego Florez – Opera Singer
  • Paolo Guerrero, Claudio Pizarro, Nolberto Solano – Soccer Players
  • Hernando de Soto – Economist
  • Benjamin Bratt - Actor
  • Susana Baca – Singer
  • Kina Malpartida - Boxer
  • Sofia Mulanovich – Champion Surfer
  • Mara Julia Mantilla – Miss World 2004
  • Mario Testino – Photographer
  • Paddington Bear – Fictional Character / Spectacled Bear
     

Reviews

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing destination & highlight of South America All transfers very good, accommodation in Lima (Second Home Hotel) very good & great location although on the last night it was too far from airport for early flight the next day. Accommodation in Puno (Casa Andina Private) very good but out of town, in Cusco (Casa Cartagena) superb & great staff, in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) very good but no water available early of 1st morning for showers etc., in Puerto Maldonado (Refugio Amazonas) good considering remote location & limited electricity. Beer was always cold after hard days jungle trecking! Will cover tours through Peru in a separate review
Date published: 2014-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Salkantay Trek plus The trek was fantastic. The Mountain Lodges of Peru were excellent in every way. In the future, we recommend that trekkers should be advised to take gaiters.
Date published: 2015-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific trip The suggested itinerary went smoothly and we were met by guides at each destination and escorted to our hotels. We felt very safe.
Date published: 2014-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Peru, Peru, Peru! I don't think there was one meal in Peru that I regretted. The gastronomy in Peru was mentioned prior to leaving Australia, but to be perfectly honest I never had a chance to try it before. My gosh, forget other world cuisines - and get to Peru. The food was out of this world. It was something that really struck me. All enjoyed with a Pisco Sour of course! The rest of the trip was wonderful. Machu Picchu has long been on my bucket list, and to tick it off was a lifetime achievement. The Sacred Valley and Pisac markets were also fantastic, a wide variety of goods available all at a reasonable cost. We loved the Waka Punku hotel in Cusco, a real gem and close to the action.. Lake Titicaca was also a wonder, visit the Uros Islands was mind blowing. Next trip is Galapagos next year.. and please can we stop in Peru again? Many thanks to all in Peru we met, and were welcomed by including Larry, Sandra, Andy and Ale. You have a great team in Peru, and I will sing their praises to everyone I see.
Date published: 2014-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from peru late flights with poor food seated apart on the plane row 7 and 19 not happy excellent tours very good guides plenty of interesting things to see and do
Date published: 2015-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from tour of peru Well organized good hotels whole experience brilliant
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Peru The organizaton from and to each destination went very smoothly...well done. One day was too long travelling from A to B and would have preferred flights or trains between Cities. We cancelled the day before the Inca Tail because we didn't want another full day touring. The Inca Trail was good, but sleeping on the floor was difficult, toilet, washing facilites were poor and the food was acceptable.
Date published: 2014-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Trip to Machu Pichu Our entire trip went so well. Originally I was travelling on my own so wanted everything to be thoroughly organised, met at airport etc. And everything went so well. Always met on time, delightful, informative drivers, great little boutique hotels and excellent tour guides. We had Sonia to ourselves in Machu Pichu and she was excellent. very knowledgeable. Just wonderful.
Date published: 2015-04-20
  • 2015-04-27T06:34CST
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