Think Peru… Paddington Bear, Pisco Sour and Machu Picchu?
There’s so much more to this exotic, diverse and contrasting South American destination than meets the eye – it’s a land full of color, culture and coastline, rich in history and geography, from the mountains of the Andes to the Amazon.
Traveling from the beautiful beaches and big waves of Máncora in the equatorial north, to the bright and verdant cosmopolitan capital of Lima, and east to the Inca history of Cusco, Peru will surprise and delight in its own right. equal. And foodies, you are in for a treat! Peruvian gastronomy ranks among the best in the world.
Machu Picchu – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and the most visited tourist destination in the country
Located on the northwest coast of Peru, the charming town of Máncora attracts both surfers and sun-seekers, and is one of Peru’s best-kept secrets.
It has a laid-back, friendly, hippy vibe, and enjoys a warm, sunny climate all year round – average temperatures hover around 25°C and cooling breezes arrive from the Pacific.
Start the day in paradise with the sand between your toes by staying in an ocean front home on Pocitas Beach. vivamancora.com
Go whale watching in Máncora! Every year between July and October, they migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica
Waking up in a luxury oceanfront home on Pocitas Máncora Beach is the best way to start the day
Enjoy the city’s excellent seafood and, if you’re lucky, spot humpback whales from July to October, when they migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica.
As a starting point for most visitors, the capital of Peru does not disappoint. A bright, clean and friendly city of nine million people, so warm and welcoming that it’s no surprise that a third of Peruvians call Lima home.
The popular neighborhoods of San Isidro and Miraflores offer a mix of sea, city and lush parks full of olive trees and birdsong – Parque El Olivar is the perfect place for a morning stroll.
No visit to Lima would be complete without taking advantage of the outstanding dining options on offer in the city, so head to La Mar Restaurant. lamarcebicheria.com
Miraflores: the perfect mix of sea, city and lush parks full of olive trees and singing birds
The creation of Peruvian culinary genius Gastón Acurio, it serves the best ceviche I’ve ever had. Avoid the queues by getting there at noon.
For a little relaxation after all the great meals, spend a few nights at the Country Club Lima Hotel (countryclublimahotel.com). Opened in 1927, it’s full of Spanish colonial charm and has hosted ambassadors and rock stars. It is located in San Isidro, just 10 minutes by taxi from Miraflores.
Cuzco and Machu Picchu
You couldn’t visit Peru without making a pilgrimage to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and the country’s most visited tourist destination.
Located high in the Andes, surrounded by a cloud forest, this sacred symbol of the Inca Empire is as mysterious as it is beautiful, and was once home to around 1,000 people.
A trip to Machu Picchu usually begins in the city of Cusco, once the political and religious capital of the Inca Empire. The arrival of the Spaniards in 1532 saw the temples and palaces of Cusco converted into the magnificent churches and cathedral that you can see today.
A Standing Piece of History – The Church of Santo Domingo, Cusco
Located 10,000 feet above sea level, Cusco is higher than Machu Picchu (7,000 feet) and is the perfect place to acclimatize for a few days after the hour-long flight from Lima. Explore its charming alleys and the stunning colonial architecture of the main square, Plaza De Armas.
Dine at one of Cusco’s superb restaurants (food is never far from your thoughts in Peru!), Cicciolina (cicciolinacuzco.com) being my favorite on all my Peruvian trips. Immerse yourself in the city’s history by staying at the Palacio del Inka hotel (marriott.com), a mansion that dates back five centuries and showcases historic Peruvian culture and art.
Refreshed and well fed, it’s time for Machu Picchu. From your hotel in Cusco, take a bus or hire a driver to the town of Ollantaytambo, about a two-hour drive into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, then join a spectacular 90-minute train ride (perurail.com) that winds in the Andes to the city of Machu Picchu.
It is then only a short bus ride to the Lost City itself. Once at the top, get your passport stamped, take this photo and walk in the footsteps of the Incas. Oh, and if you’re really lucky, take a selfie with a llama.
One thing is certain, whatever combination you choose, the conclusion will ultimately be unforgettable. Peru… take me too!
Iberia flies daily from London Heathrow and Manchester to Lima via Madrid. iberia.com