Still the biggest draw in Peru, and one of the wonders of the world, the Inca city of Machu Picchu should be top of everyone’s must-see list. It stands 7,970 feet high in the Andes, above the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and its origins are still debated. Reconstruction of many of its buildings gives an unrivalled glimpse into what it must have looked like when it was built over 500 years ago.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas
About an hour from the Inca capital of Cusco, itself a major attraction, is the Urubamba Valley. This was the center of the Inca Empire, chosen for its beauty and its fertility, watered as it is by several rivers which cut their way through a dramatic landscape.
Yet another of Peru’s many Unesco World Heritage Sites, these hundreds of ancient geoglyphs depict humans, animals, birds, straight lines and geometric patterns. Some of the lines are as long as 1,200 feet and are plainly visible from the air. It’s believed they were carved by the Nazca people, from about 400 CE until the civilization died out in around 700 CE — but their purpose remains a mystery.
Like Timbuktu, the very name of Lake Titicaca appeals, and it won’t disappoint. The largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,507 feet, this is the Peru of your imagination: llamas, women in bowler hats, mountain peaks, and crisp, pure air.
related: Panama: Creatures beyond the canal
The Cotahuasi Canyon
More remote than the better-known Colca Canyon, Cotahuasi has the distinction of being the deepest canyon in the world. It’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. A hiking trip here is one of Peru’s many highlights.
For more expert advice on traveling in Peru, go to www.insightguides.com.