As the most famous tourist attraction in Peru, Machu Picchu attracts thousands of tourists each year. Being a frequent visitor of Machu Picchu myself, I can completely understand why so many people visit the Inca citadel high in the Andes Mountains but this stunning country should be more than a quick layover on the way to Machu Picchu.
The history of Peru dates back over 3000 years. Numerous cultures have called the area home, leaving behind intricate structures and beautiful treasures to explore. Peru’s natural diversity ranges from the amazon rainforest to the Andean highlands to the dry and arid southern coast. The Peruvian people and their cultures are just as diverse and stunning as the landscapes they call home.
Here is a list of 4 places that aren’t Machu Picchu that you should visit when you travel to Peru.
Known as the “ White City” The white walls of many of Arequipa’s colonial buildings are made from white ashlar or sillar, a stone found beneath the 3 large volcanoes that overlook the city. Intricate and ornate designs are carved into the stone baroque-style buildings. In Arequipa’s historic center stands the Plaza de Armas, a grand main square flanked on its north by a 17th-century neoclassical Basilica Cathedral. The center of Arequipa is part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List.
Located 4 hours south of Lima, close to the city of Ica, Huacachina is South America’s only natural desert Oasis. Huacachina is a tiny town and at its center are the green waters of the Huacachina Lagoon, ringed by palm trees. The lagoon’s shores are dotted with bars, hotels and restaurants. A major attraction to this area is the dune buggy and sandboarding tours that are offered to explore the surrounding desert.
The Nazca Lines in southern Peru are a collection of some 300 pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched into desert surfaces. Covering an area of about 1,000 square kilometres, there are various animal and plant representations.
These figures, which consist of over 10,000 lines, some of which measure 30 meters wide and stretch over 9 kilometres, are best seen from the air or nearby hilltops.
Paracas National Reserve and Ballestas Islands
The Paracas national reserve and Ballestas islands are located a few hours south of Lima on the pacific coast of Southern Peru. The reserve spans over desert, ocean and islands and is home to a wide variety of wildlife like sea lions, penguins, dolphins and many species of migratory birds. A huge geoglyph, known as the Paracas Candelabra, is perched on the Paracas Peninsula. Boat, land and combo tours of the reserve and islands are accessible from the many small hotels in the tiny oceanside town. Our family loved both tours and opted to do them a second time because we enjoyed it so much.
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