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
No tours found.
No tours found.
The Chimu Collections range consists of boutique properties, cruises & itineraries, throughout Latin America, designed for travellers seeking unique experiences.
No tours found.
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.
If you’re looking for an off the beaten track experience then this is the place for you.
The coastal and Andean areas north of Lima are less visited than the rest of Peru. If you’re looking for an off the beaten track experience then this is the place for you. Attractions here include the world’s second largest Archaeological ruins, Chan Chan, an adobe city built by the Chimu Culture, and the Andean city of Cajamarca. One of the most crucial parts of Peru’s history occurred in Cajamarca. The Spanish Conquistadors captured and subsequently executed the Inca Atahualpa. Recently the Chachapoya city of Kuelap (City in the Clouds) has also gained a lot of international attention, being the subject of a number of documentaries.
There’s no doubt about it that if you’re interested in ancient history and archaeology, you must try to make the effort to include the North of Peru in your itinerary.
You may also be interested in this region if you enjoy surfing. The little town of Mancora, not far from the Ecuador border, is considered a surfer’s hotspot, with warm, turquoise waters and good waves. The ocean temperature here averages around 24 degrees Celsius (although with the Humboldt Current it can drop as low as 14 degrees!) The nearest airport to Mancora is Talara or Tumbes and the flight time is two hours from Lima.
When to Visit the North of Peru
Depending on where you are, the north of Peru can get very hot. Summer temperatures (December to April) have been known to reach the 40’s (degrees Celsius). Rain is more likely in the summer which can cool things down, but if you prefer more comfortable temperatures we recommend for you to travel Peru’s North between April and November. It’s generally warm and dry during these months.
Note: For Andean destinations such as Cajamarca, refer to ‘When to Visit the Peruvian Highlands’ (above).
Cusco and Machu Picchu are clearly the most popular destinations of Peru.
Cusco and Machu Picchu are clearly the most popular destinations of Peru. Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca site, located 2,430m above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is the most famous of all Inca sites but it was not until 1911 that it was brought to the world’s attention by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The Incas abandoned the city just prior to Spanish colonisation meaning that the Spanish conquerors never had a chance to pillage the city. As a result the ruins are still in fantastic condition and given the location of the city – on a dramatic ridgeline surrounded by sheer cliffs and the Urubamba River on three sides – it truly is a remarkable place to visit. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007 it was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Nearby Cusco is equally as fascinating and teems with Andean pride. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and although the Spanish looted and rebuilt much of the city there are still plenty of Incan remains. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined by Inca walls stretch out from the main plaza in every different direction. Most colonial buildings were built on top of Incan foundations and the stonework is unparalleled in its precision and beauty. Some of the Inca’s most sacred sites still exist in part. The incredible Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) and Sacsayhuaman (fortress overlooking Cusco) are two definite must-sees. A visit to the local market is also an experience not to miss, and you can find all sorts of culinary delights in Cusco, from the very traditional to the very modern...
The Sacred Valley or Rio Urubamba Valley contains several other famous and beautiful Inca ruins. The colonial village of Pisac sits at the base of the spectacular Pisac Ruins – a hilltop Inca citadel and fortress with impressive agricultural terracing. Pisac itself is worth exploring especially on market days when the village comes alive with locals from nearby hillside villages in traditional dress selling local fruit and vegetables as well as handicrafts. The quaint town of Ollantaytambo is also dominated by Inca ruins. There are a few houses in the town dating back to Inca times. The ruins were not only a fortress, but were also of religious significance.
Both Cusco and Machu Picchu are at a high altitude (Cusco more so than Machu Picchu) and as such please be aware that you could suffer from altitude sickness in these areas. We do try to plan our itineraries to ease people into the altitude with low impact tours and activities on your first few days in the Andes. We also recommend you to consider adding one or two extra days purely to relax, acclimatise and get used to your first high-altitude experience. A great way to do this is to ask to book a transfer direct from Cusco Airport to one of our lovely hotels located in the Sacred Valley (located at a lower, more comfortable altitude). Staying in the Sacred Valley for two nights is a great way to ease your way slowly into the altitude. You can then continue rom here to Machu Picchu and leave Cusco, which is highest of the three, for last.
When to Visit the Peruvian Highlands
The Highland Region has two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs from October to April and the dry season from May to September. The drier months are generally considered the better months to visit, although due to the popularity of these destinations many people now consider the wet season better. The wet season isn’t necessarily continuously wet. There is a higher chance of rainfall from October to April (particularly January and February) but you do often get cloud-free days. It can also, of course, rain in the dry season. We recommend that you don’t put too much importance on wet/dry season. A lot of it is luck!
The Southern Coastal Area has some different cities with their own cultural sites.
Peru’s capital, Lima, sits on the Pacific coast. Founded in 1535, Lima is now a modern and sprawling city with approximately 9 million inhabitants, but it has a long and interesting history. In the early stages of Spanish Colonisation Lima was considered to be the Capital of South America. Lima has some very impressive, stately buildings and the local museums are also well worth a visit. Lima was the last to end the Spanish Inquisition, in 1820. Therefore the Lima Museum, although somewhat shocking, makes for a fascinating visit.
The road from Lima south to Arequipa is a rather popular route to take. It is easy to combine with the Lake Titicaca and Cusco/ Machu Picchu regions, making an action-packed loop from Lima all the way to Cusco.
Just South of Lima on the Pacific Coast is the city of Pisco - where the famous Peruvian drink was first made. There are a number of vineyards in the region. A little further on is the wildlife-rich Ballestas Islands and the unique oasis town of Huacachina. Travelling further south again are the world famous Nazca lines – ancient and mysterious lines etched into the desert, eluding all explanations. The lines are so large that generally they can only be viewed from the air. Joy flights in the area are very popular with tourists.
Continuing south is the ‘’White City’’ of Arequipa: a proud and prosperous city lying under the imposing shadow of Volcano Misti. The old city centre is strangely unique due to the heavy use of Lime Mortar in constructing many of the buildings – giving that nougat textured creamy-white appearance. Visiting the beautiful Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time as you explore all the colourful, narrow streets. It’s often described as a ‘city within a city’. Just across the road from the convent, another ‘must-do’ in Arequipa is a visit to the Santuarios Andinos Museum, where the famous Inca Ice Maiden, Mummy Juanita, is on display. This mummy was discovered by climbers in 1995 on nearby Mount Ampato. ‘Juanita’, as they call her, is believed to have been sacrificed to the Inca Gods sometimes in the 15th Century.
From Arequipa the natural path is to continue up to Lake Titicaca, but en-route it’s possible to visit the stunning Colca Canyon – one of the world’s deepest canyons and considered to be one of the best locations in the world to view condors! The nearby Quechua-speaking towns are steeped in folklore and known for their wonderful, colourful clothing. These towns are lovely places to stay the night if you do have the time.
Bear in mind that the Colca Region is at very high altitude, so if you have not yet acclimatised elsewhere in Peru (Arequipa is not really high enough to allow you to acclimatise fully) please take this into account and plan your itinerary accordingly. Likewise, Lake Titicaca is also very high altitude. Be very careful if planning to travel here directly after Arequipa.
When to Visit Peru’s Southern Coastal Area
The Coastal area of Peru is very arid and the climate does not change significantly year round, meaning that any time of year is a good time to visit.
As the Colca Canyon is in the Highlands the recommended time to visit is during the dry season, from May to November. If you are hoping to see Condors try to travel here between June and September. This is generally when the condors put on their best show and you are likely to see more of them!
Puerto Maldonado in Peru is the most accessible place from which to visit the Amazon Jungle.
The Amazon is a also a popular Peruvian destination and Puerto Maldonado is certainly the most accessible place from which to visit the Amazon Jungle due to its close proximity to Cusco and the number of direct flights. Many Amazon jungle lodges are located near to Puerto Maldonado and because the tributaries here are so much smaller than on the Amazon River proper, it results in a more intimate experience. The chances of seeing wildlife are also higher here than in many other parts of the Amazon.
Iquitos is another option for visiting the Peruvian Amazon, but flights into Iquitos only depart from Lima, not from Cusco. Iquitos is one of the most remote cities in the world. With no roads connecting it to the outside world, the only way in is by plane or boat! As well as jungle lodges there are a number of Amazon Riverboat cruises that depart from Iquitos.
When to Visit the Amazon
The Amazon has two main seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs from December until May. During the wet season the temperature is a little lower, which can be an advantage. Also, all the little waterways are flooded with water, which allow you to get into all sorts of nocks and crannies that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access via boat in the dry season. The dry season runs from June to November and has different advantages: walking trails are easily accessible and in some cases wild life is more densely concentrated around watering holes, which could potentially allow for better viewing possibilities.
The Uros people live on floating totora reed islands on the Titicaca lake, complete with houses, schools and shops.
Other popular highland destinations include Lake Titicaca, Puno and the Uros Islands. These destinations are just a short bus or train journey from Cusco, so can easily be combined with a trip to Machu Picchu and Cusco. Once again we recommend that you plan your trip around the altitude. The Lake Titicaca region is even higher than Cusco. It therefore makes a lot of sense to visit Cusco before Lake Titicaca - if you can possibly do so!
Puno, at an elevation of over 3,800m lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca and is a melting pot of Indian culture including Aymara and Quechua. It is the gateway to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest lake in South America. The Uros people have lived on the lake for centuries, making their homes out of the totora reeds that grow in the lake. Today they still live on these floating reed islands, complete with houses, schools, shops and other necessities for their communities. You are welcome to take a tour of these floating reed islands with a local Aymara-speaking guide. This is an incredible cultural experience. Despite what some tourists might say about it being the ‘souvenir-floating islands’, it is, nonetheless, authentic. You will be made to feel very comfortable by these warm, gentle people. We do, however, recommend for you to bring along some spending money, just in case!
When to Visit Lake Titicaca, Puno & the Uros Islands
The best time to visit this area is between May and October. Days tend to be sunny and rain showers infrequent. Temperatures do, however, fluctuate widely during the day and night, and temperatures can plunge to near freezing at night. Early February is a popular time to visit, as this is when the festival of La Virgen de la Candelaria is held. In early November, Puno Week celebrates the birth of Mánco Capac, the first Inca.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.