Traveling is genuinely personal; it allows you to stimulate all the human senses, its offers a relaxing experience as well as the opportunity to rediscover one’s own purpose. When you decide to be in the hands of Pacha Perú, you are not only making a decision but a commitment to excellence.
Volunteering During Your Peru Adventure
Imagine growing up in an isolated Andean community where your parents speak a dying Quechua language and your schoolwork often comes second to the more practical tasks at hand, like farming and familial chores.
In 2012, Pacha Peru Explorers Founder Javier Paucar, stumbled upon just such a community in the Sacred Valley beyond Cusco. Recognizing both a need and an opportunity, he makes social projects to provide the children of this community with the chance to empower themselves through education.
Today, more than two-thirds of the community’s school-aged children visit the Andean Children’s Learning Center for after-school educational support and mentorship and a host of Pacha Perú travelers have experienced the joy of volunteering their time to support these students on their educational journeys, many of whom will be the first in their family to go on to high school and university.
Including an experience like volunteering at the Andean Children’s Learning Center is an opportunity to enrich and add meaning to your journey in Peru. It opens doors to cultural exchange and authentic connection with locals, while simultaneously broadening perspectives and fostering deeper understandings of the places you travel.
As with all Pacha Perú Explorers itineraries, we piece your Peru itinerary together based on your needs, time constraints, and unique preferences. Whether a volunteer experience in Peru is your sole focus for traveling or if it’s just one of many meaningful experiences you wish to have during your time in Peru, our Pacha Perú Explorers designers will put together a customized Peru itinerary to meet your every requirement.
For more information about Pacha Perú Explorers’s philanthropy projects, please visit pachaperufoundation.org
The Community Computer Initiative
Should you wish to include an environmental conservation or social support activity in your trip, just contact us.– We are always thrilled to find suitable projects, which is just another element of the Pacha Perú difference.
Whether traveling on your own or with family and friends, a trip with Pacha Peru will never come short of being 100% personalized. Here you’ll find useful tips, travel news and experiences to get the most out as you discover this region.
Known as the City of Eternal Spring for its year round sunny weather, Trujillo is a popular coastal destination in northwestern Peru on many travelers’ must-visit lists. With its great weather, eye-catching architecture, rich culture, and of course its beautiful beaches, Trujillo is a one-stop shop for travelers looking for both a relaxing beach getaway and the opportunity to explore some of Peru’s impressive cultural attractions. In this article, we introduce you to Trujillo and its many draws for luxury travelers to Peru.
Before the Spanish founded Trujillo in the 16th century, it was the site of two great pre-Inca cultures, the Moche and the Chimu. These two highly-developed cultures used Trujillo as their base between 200 B.C. and A.D. 700. Today, Trujillo hangs on to its colonial-era appearance with baroque churches and colorful houses.
*Fun Fact: Trujillo is known as the place of origin of Peru’s judiciary branch and thus has been termed the “Cradle of Liberty” of Peru.
Chan Chan was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. Active around the year 850 AD, it was the home of the Chimu culture, and is called the largest Pre- Columbian adobe city in South America! At one time, it was home to 30,000 people. It consisted of ten walled citadels that contained many types of buildings: homes, burial chambers, temples, ceremonial rooms, and reservoirs. The adobe walls were covered with a smooth finish, which was inlaid with intricate designs depicting fish, birds, sea monsters, crabs, turtles, and other sea-themed representations.
The Huacas del Sol y Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon) are also found near Trujillo, at the volcanic peak of Cerro Blanco. The Huaca del Sol is built of more than 130 million adobe bricks and was the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure in the Americas! The Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) is a better-preserved, smaller structure located at the same site.
Trujillo is the “Capital of the Marinera,” Peru’s famous national dance, and also the site of the largest Marinera competition in Peru, which takes place annually in January. It is known, too, for being the birthplace of the Peruvian Paso Horse, a breed of horse known for its elegant high-stepping gait. With its vibrant artists’ community, it is a center of national and international annual cultural events, including The International Book Festival in March, the Marinera Festival in January and the Trujillo Spring Festival that begins at the end of September.
Yet another attraction located a short car or bus ride away from Trujillo is the beachside town of Huanchaco. Huanchaco is a popular Peru vacation spot, known for its surfing opportunities, its ceviche, and the caballitos de totora, ancient reed boats whose design dates back to pre-Inca times. They are still used today, ridden astride like horses, hence the name, “little reed horses.” Huanchaco’s seaside charm and friendly atmosphere make it an ideal destination for the sea-loving tourist.
Travel to Trujillo in 2017
All of the above attractions make Trujillo and surroundings the ideal Peruvian destination for 2017. With its lovely weather, cultural and arts events, fresh seafood, and fascinating pre-Inca ruins, you’ll want to spend at least several days visiting the City of Eternal Spring. Speak to a Pacha Perú Travel Designer today to begin planning your 2017 customized Peru vacation to Trujillo and other exciting Peru destinations.
As the end of the year approaches, many of us take the time to reflect on the past year and commit to making positive changes in the New Year. Often, these New Year’s resolutions are focused around health, love, family, and quitting bad habits. As it turns out a trip to Peru has the potential to both meet these resolutions head on and motivate you to keep them up throughout the year. If you’re not already considering a custom vacation in Peru this 2017, this article may convince you to start planning one.
The Top New Year’s Resolutions
Look at any top 10 new year’s resolutions list and you’ll find things like “spend more time with family and friends” and “lose weight” among them. What it goes to show is that in a broad sense we all want a lot of the same things year after year: to feel fulfilled, healthy, happy, and to live life to its fullest with family and friends at our side. We’re here to show you how a custom trip to Peru can check all of those boxes and then some. Here’s why…
What a Custom Trip to Peru Can Offer You
We’ll zero in on three consistent New Year’s resolutions that make top 10 lists year after year and show you how a trip to Peru touches upon all of them. It could be the ultimate New Year’s resolution for your 2017.
Spend more time with family and friends
Reflect back on some of the vacations you’ve gone on in your life. Chances are many of them include close friends and family. They are fond memories, a break from the day-to-day stresses and routine, and something you’d choose to relive in an instant if you could. Vacations are the ultimate bonding time and thus the ultimate way to tackle this popular New Year’s resolution. Throw in a new culture and experience and you’ve got the makings for an unforgettable vacation and moment with loved ones everyone involved will come to remember for years to come. A trip to Peru is just that. It may be slightly outside your comfort zone. It brings you face-to-face with an unfamiliar culture, way of life, and language. It expands your mind and perspective in ways only international travel can and when experienced together with the ones you love becomes a life-altering experience deeply felt and treasured by all who were there. This is why an authentic luxury family Peru vacation may be just the thing you’re looking for this 2017.
Stay fit and healthy and/or lose weight
The resolution to stay fit and healthy in the New Year is a common one. That’s why gyms are typically inundated those first few months of the year and fridges and pantries are purged of unhealthy snacks and indulgences. After a few months, everything inevitably returns to equilibrium as motivation wares and old habits creep back in. A future trip to Peru, however, has the unique ability to motivate people to stay on track with their fitness and diet goals, especially if their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Peru includes a hike on the famous Inca trail to Machu Picchu or a trek on one of Peru’s other daunting multi-day trails. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that often matters enough to motivate one to be prepared for the experience, whether fitness and health were a high priority in the past or not. Putting a personalized active tour of Peru on your calendar for 2017 could be just the sort of thing to motivate you to stay on track with your fitness goals for 2017.
Learn something new
Chances are an impending trip to Peru will have you reaching for a Spanish phrase book and a travel guide. You’ll be curious about the culture you’re about to enter into and want to know a few key phrases to help you get around and engage with the locals. In other words, learning something new will become important and thus happen naturally over the course of your preparations for your private vacation to Peru. If learning something new is on your 2017 new year’s resolutions list, a trip to Peru could be the perfect way to get you going and keep you going throughout the year. Not to mention, you’ll learn plenty about pre-Incan, Incan and modern times in Peru over the course of your private Peru vacation.
Start Planning Your 2017 Peru Vacation Today
Traveling to unseen and unfamiliar places is always an enriching experience and Peru is a unique global destination with a rich and intriguing history that is still tangible to this day. Pair that with the fact that it can check off a few more of your new year’s resolutions and a custom tour of Peru becomes the ultimate 2017 new year’s resolution. To begin exploring the possibility of adding a Peruvian vacation to your 2017 calendar, reach out to one of our Pacha Perú Explorers Designers today.
At Pacha Peru Explorers, we often tout Peru`s northern beaches, especially cities like Trujillo to clients for its scenic coastline, excellent surf, and stunning archaeological wonders but there’s another local claim to fame worth mentioning: the Marinera, Peru’s National Dance. A major element that contributes to Trujillo`s famed status as Peru`s cultural capital.
The Marinera is a romantic, graceful, and sensuous dance that enacts the courtship display of a young couple. It is one of Peru’s most popular dances and its epicenter is the northern coastal city of Trujillo. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at this enduring tradition. By its end, you’ll be reaching for your custom Peru travel itinerary wondering how you can squeeze in a trip to see the marvelous dance during your private Peru vacation.
Tip: The best times to view the Marinera in Trujillo are in January and October. Every January a huge national Marinera Concurso, or contest, is held and on October 7th Marinera Day is celebrated with dances and parades throughout the city.
The History of the Marinera Dance
The Marinera is said to have originated from the Zamacueca, which was a popular dance among African slaves brought to Peru in the 16th century. Through the centuries it has evolved with a blend of Spanish, Moorish, Andean, and Gypsy influences. Up until 1879 when Peru went to war with Chile, the Marinera was known as the “Chilean.” After, it was renamed the Marinera in honor of Peru’s navy.
How to do the Marinera Dance
The dance itself is performed by a couple dressed in elegant clothing, the woman in a long skirt and the man in a straw hat and elegant jacket. Both carry white handkerchiefs as props, floating them tantalizingly just out of reach of one another. The steps of the dance often start slowly then build up to a mesmerizing and highly intricate speed. The couples never actually touch, creating an atmosphere of coquettishness, yearning, and sensuality until finally leading up to the romantic conquest.
The Instruments Used to Perform the Marinera
The dancers are traditionally accompanied by a musical group composed of four guitarists and a cajón player (the cajón is a Peruvian boxlike drum). Bugles are a more recent addition to the ensemble. Finally, handclapping is added by both the accompanying singers and the spectators in the audience to complement the dance steps.
The Marinera Norteña
There are three main varieties: the Marinera Norteña, from Trujillo, the Marinera Limeña, from Lima, and the Marinera Serrana, from the mountains. The two former variations are known for being light-hearted, playful and flirtatious, while the Serrana is considered more romantic and stately. The Marinera Norteña of Trujillo is sometimes performed with the man riding a Peruvian Paso horse, a breed trained for its fancy and elegant stepping. The man rides and directs the steps of the horse throughout his performance.
Visit Trujillo: The City of the Marinera Norteña and Eternal Spring
Known as the City of Eternal Spring for its beautiful weather year-round, Trujillo is truly a great city to include on your tailor-made tour to Peru. Besides the lively Marinera scene (especially during the months of January and October) beautiful beach destinations like Huanchaco and archaeological sites like Chan Chan are nearby. Talk to your Kuoda Travel Designer today about including this spectacular Peru travel destination in your custom itinerary to Peru.
If your custom Peru vacation happens to fall during this festive time of year, you’re in for an exciting experience full of traditions, some familiar and others entirely new. In this blog post, Pacha Perú will fill you in on what to expect and provide you with a few suggestions on where best to spend the Christmas in Peru. Whether you’re finalizing details for your approaching Peru vacation or thinking ahead to next year, speak to your Pacha Perú Designer today about how you can incorporate some of these Christmas traditions into your personalized Peru tour package.
Peruvian Christmas Traditions
Whereas much of the world celebrates Christmas on Christmas Day, Peru celebrates on Christmas Eve, or La Noche Buena. It’s a day full of family gatherings, good food, and religious tradition. The festivities officially begin in the evening of the 24th when families attend the misa de gallo, a special Christmas mass that begins at 10pm. After mass everyone returns home for what will be a long night of celebrations with family and friends. At the stroke of midnight, Peruvians dig into a Christmas feast of turkey, chicken or pork, tamales, and applesauce with close friends and family while fireworks ignite across the skies. Adults toast with champagne and children sip on hot chocolate between bites of panetón, a sweet bread filled with raisins and candied fruits. Gifts are exchanged after dinner and then sleepy kids are put to bed while the adults dance the night away with friends and family. For this reason, Christmas day is usually quiet in Peru with many sleeping in and resting from an eventful night prior.
From locating panetón to sitting down for a Peruvian-style Christmas feast, talk to your Pacha Perú Designer for some ideas on how you can include some of these Peruvian Christmas traditions in your fast approaching or future custom Peru holiday.
Where to Spend Christmas in Peru
For a taste of Andean Christmas tradition, head to Cusco. There, you’ll find a popular traditional Christmas market called Santuranticuy. Artisans from Cusco’s San Blas neighborhood and across Southern Peru gather in the Plaza de Armas to sell handcrafted Christmas art and figurines, as well as raw materials like moss, straw, and grass for nativity scenes. Stroll this magnificent spectacle with a sweet rum punch or hot chocolate in hand and take home a Christmas souvenir to represent your unforgettable Peru holiday.
Puno & Lake Titicaca
Along with Cusco, Puno is another great option for travelers looking to experience a truly traditional Peruvian Christmas. Known as the folklore capital of Peru, Puno is to be counted on for a full-on festival atmosphere. Expect all of the fanfare of one of their infamous festivals set to the stunning backdrop of Lake Titicaca. Go to mass in one of Puno’s quaint colonial churches as they reverberate with the sounds of the angelic Christmas choirs and sit down to an Andean-style Christmas feast where roasted guinea pig and alpaca are sure to be on the menu.
For a more modern Christmas with plenty of familiar décor, Lima is your best bet. The streets and city plazas will be decked out in Christmas cheer, even with the summer-like temperatures of Lima this time of year. Lima is a great Christmas destination if you’re on a family trip to Peru. There are plenty of fun activities for the whole family, including ice-skating at Iceland Park in the district of Jesus Maria.
If spending Christmas on the beach sounds more your style, then Trujillo is the perfect Peru destination for you. Located on the northern coast of Peru, Trujillo is home to beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture, a thriving culinary scene, and relaxing beach vibes. The Plaza de Armas is sure to be dressed for the season and the wide range of top-notch restaurants will provide you with a variety of Christmas dinner dining options. Spend Christmas Day on the beach soaking up the bountiful surf and sunshine.
As they say in Peru, “Feliz Navidad!” From the Pacha Peru family to yours, we wish you nothing but the merriest of Christmases. If yours just so happens to be with us here in Peru, we look forward to making it a custom Peru Christmas vacation to remember.
Did any of these Christmas destinations or traditions catch your eye? Your Pacha Perú Designer will be more than happy to work them into your personalized Peru holiday, be it this year or Christmases to come. Contact us to get started.
At Pacha Perú Explorers, we like to find out what awed and intrigued our guests during their custom tour to Peru. Time and time again, we hear about the surprise they felt to find such deep Asian influences throughout the country, influences that have become ingrained in the fabric of the culture. In fact, a proportionately large percentage of Peru’s population is of Asian descent, over 600,000 people to give you an estimate. That’s approximately 3-5% of the total population! Behind Brazil (a much larger country), Peru is home to one of the largest Asian populations in all of Latin America. In this blog post, we’ll prepare you for your authentic Peru vacation by bringing you up to speed on Peru’s two largest Asian populations, Chinese Peruvians and Japanese Peruvians, and the unique influences they’ve had on Peruvian culture.
But First: The Beginning of Asian Influence in Peru
Locally, Chinese Peruvians are known as Tusán. They were the first Asians to arrive to Peru in the mid-19th century, coming to work the plantations that had originally been worked by African slaves. The Japanese immigrants, known as Nikkei, arrived later at the turn of the century seeking better work opportunities than they could find in Japan at the time. The circumstances weren’t easy and working conditions were arduous on the haciendas with many of the original immigrants dying from disease, poor medical attention, lack of housing, and malnutrition. Those that survived this rough patch eventually transformed their practiced resourcefulness into businesses, the start of a thriving Asian population in Peru.
The Byproducts of Asian Influence in Peru
Chinese Peruvian Cuisine
One of the most obvious Asian influences in Peru is of course through its cuisine. Every neighborhood in many of Peru’s cities, including Lima, Cusco and Iquitos, boasts its chifas, or Chinese Peruvian restaurants. On your custom Peru tour, delight in the exquisite flavors of chaufa especial, fried rice with Chinese vegetables, and your choice of meat, shrimp, and hardboiled quail eggs, or try the pollo enrollado, chicken breast pounded, flattened, then filled with asparagus and pork or other vegetables and meats, finally rolled up, fried or sautéed, and served alongside an aromatic black bean or Asian sauce.
One Asian-inspired dish you may find on menus beyond the chifas is lomo saltado, one of Peru’s most emblematic dishes possessing a distinct Asian flare. Its tender slices of beef, fried potatoes, tomatoes, and onions marinated in soy sauce bring to mind Chinese Wok cooking, from taste to technique.
Lima has an extensive Chinatown section located on Calle Capón where one can find a host of chifa restaurants and fascinating shops full of Chinese herbal medicines and imported foods and spices not found elsewhere in Peru. Talk to your Pacha Perú Explorers designer to include a guided visit of Lima’s Chinatown in your personalized Peru itinerary.
A Japanese Peruvian President
Aside from the influence on cuisine, Japanese and Chinese Peruvians have had an enormous influence on Peruvian politics and on the economy. The most obvious example is the presidency of Alberto Fujimori, from 1990- 2000. He is the first Japanese person to be elected president in a country outside of Japan.
Famous Asian Peruvians
Some famous Japanese Peruvians are the Japanese Peruvian poet José Watanabe; the actor and playwright Aldo Miyashiro Ribeiro; photographer and celebrity reporter Patricia Uehara, artist Venacio Shinki, considered to be one of Peru’s most outstanding painters, and renowned chef Mitsuharu Tsumura, owner and chef at Maido, currently considered one of the world`s best restaurants. Famous Chinese Peruvians include Pedro Zulen, philosopher, university professor, poet and writer; Victor Joy Way, former Prime Minister of Peru; José Antonio Chang, former Prime Minister of Peru; and Erasmo Wong, founder of the Wong supermarket chain.
Talk to your Pacha Perú Explorers designer about how you can soak up the unique Asian Peruvian atmosphere on your personalized Peru tour.
Of course Machu Picchu is the draw for many who travel to Peru but why not extend your once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Peru with a visit to some of the country’s other equally enticing attractions, a few of which are especially ripe for 2017 travel. From hanging hotels in scenic valleys to culinary experiences at historic haciendas, allow Pacha Perú Explorers to fuel your 2017 travel plans with a few of our expertly selected best travel experiences recommendations. As always, let your Pacha Perú Explorers Designer know if you’d like to include any of these in your custom Peru itinerary.
1. Board the Belmond Andean Explorer Train
New this 2017, The Belmond Andean Explorer is scheduled to launch in May. Sister to the Belmond Hiram Bingham train, this luxury sleeper train experience through some of Peru’s most breathtaking settings will be the first of its kind in South America. Explore natural wonders like Lake Titicaca, the Colca Canyon and ancient kingdoms like Cusco City on the Belmond’s one-, two-, and three-day train journeys. Enjoy the scenic surroundings from the open-air Observation Car and rest from a day of exploring in your private en-suite luxury cabin. Meals are served in the elegant dining carriage and are skillfully prepared with fresh, local ingredients by the Belmond Hotel Monasterio’s knowledgeable chefs. Beyond the novelty of being South America’s first, a journey on the Belmond Andean Explorer Train is truly a one-of-a-kind way to experience the unforgettable sites of Peru’s southern highlands. This 2017, you have the opportunity to be one of the first to experience it.
2. Attend the Mistura Food Festival in Lima
Latin America’s biggest annual food festival, Mistura is a feast for the senses and a food-lover’s dream. Featuring food from Peru’s top chefs, farmers, food trucks, and locals alike this prestigious gastronomic event takes place in Lima the second week of September from the 7th to the 17th. Started in 2008 by one of Peru’s most recognized chefs, Gaston Acurio, the goal of the event is to promote Peruvian cuisine by bringing together Peru’s best chefs and producers from all corners of the country. Every year larger and grander than the year prior, Mistura has raised many a young chef to stardom and opened doors for countless not-so-exposed restaurants. The event draws hundreds of thousands of international visitors and locals each year. This 2017, let that include you and participate in this tasty event. There is truly no better time or place to experience the world-renowned gastronomy of Peru than at Mistura.
3. Sleep in a Skylodge Suite Suspended over the Sacred Valley
Calling all adventure enthusiasts! Located 400 meters up a via ferrata, Natura Viva’s Skylodge is a trio of translucent pods attached to a cliff face near the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo in the spectacular Sacred Valley of the Incas. These 24 x 8 meter pods can only be reached by a 400-foot steel ladder or via an intrepid hike with zip lines. The best part? The blanket of stars above as you lay in your plush bed. It’s hard to imagine a more unique hotel experience. This is a seriously unbeatable bucket list item for your 2017 travel list and luxury tour to Peru.
4. Ride the Cable Car to Kuelap
Cable Car Photo Source: gestion.pe
Built by the Chachapoyas in the sixth century A.D., Kuelap is an ancient pre-Inca fortress in the Peru`s northern Amazon and one of the largest ancient stone monuments of the New World. Previously only accessible via a three- to four-day hike or a 2-hour bumpy ride on an unpaved road, Kuelap can now be reached via the new cable car system from the village of Tingo Nuevo, a 20-minute journey that was recently completed just this year. Along the way, take in the jaw-dropping views of the jungle-covered mountains below as you ascend to the impressive Kuelap ruins. A visit to Kuelap fits well into any northern Peru itinerary with destinations like Trujillo and Chiclayo easily within a day’s reach. Talk to your Pacha Perú Explorers Designer about adding Kuelap to your personalized Peru itinerary.
5. Step into the Traditions of Hacienda Life
Hacienda Sarapampa is a ranch estate located in the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas near Pisac offering travelers a unique and traditional hacienda experience. Learn about Giant White Corn, an important product of the local economy, and learn about the local traditions of the region with the estate owners. Pass the rest of your afternoon enjoying some local customs and traditions including the marinera dance and the pachamanca meal. The itinerary through this ranch estate includes a lineup of unique and interesting experiences that take you inside the authentic culture and traditions of the Andes like nowhere else. Your Pacha Perú Explorers Designer has all of the details about this unique Sacred Valley travel experience.
6. Taste the Signature Flavors of Peru in Cusco
Chocolate, coffee, and pisco. Was there ever a better trio? Launched recently in the heart of Cusco, these three local favorites (Museo del Café, Republica del Pisco, and the Choco Museo) have teamed up to share insight and samples of these signature Peruvian products. The half-day program includes sessions at each establishment, including workshops in chocolate-making and how to prepare a pisco sour. Taste your way through the day while gaining some behind-the-scenes insight into some of Peru’s proudest products. This is a must-do tour for anyone planning to make a stop in Cusco this 2017. Ask to have this program included in your customized Peru vacation.
There you have it, our hand-picked top 2017 Peru travel experiences. Do one or do them all. Whatever you decide, each of these experiences is sure to be unforgettable, offering to you a unique and unparalleled glimpse into Peruvian culture, tradition, and landscapes. 2017 is going to be a great year for planning that luxury tour to Peru. Get in touch with a Pacha Perú Explorers Designer to begin crafting yours.
So you’re finally doing it: you finally are on your way to having a custom Peru tour! You’ve have the vacation days, spoken to your boss, set aside the money and gone back and forth with your Kuoda travel designer about your tailor-made custom travel itinerary. You’re doing it! You’re planning your trip of a lifetime to Peru and you want to do it right.
You have a few things sorted out like knowing you want to go to Machu Picchu and see the sites in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, but you also know you don’t have the time to see every incredible destination Peru has to offer. You’re going to have to pick and decide where you go and what to do with all of those options. At Pacha Perú Explorers, we are very familiar with this vacation dilemma and have honed our skills in helping clients, like you, make just these sort of travel itinerary decisions. In this blog post, we’ll help you choose between two of Peru`s best destinations: The colonial gem of Arequipa or Peruvian Amazon capital of Iquitos.
The Rundown on Arequipa
Arequipa is a proudly regional, Spanish-influenced city whose loyalty to the Spanish Crown was well documented up through the 19th century. It’s known for its strong self-awareness and intellectual atmosphere; it’s the birthplace of the famous Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa. This unique city is known for its white sillar architecture, picking up the nickname “The White City.” Sillar is a light-colored volcanic rock that is found in walls and buildings throughout the city. With its moderately cool desert climate, Arequipa boasts approximately 300 days of sun per year!
Known for its spicy cuisine, Arequipa is the birthplace of many popular Peruvian dishes and has been instrumental in Peru’s recognition as having one of the best cuisines in the world. Some of the dishes you can enjoy here are rocoto relleno, spicy batter-dipped stuffed peppers, and chupe de camarones, a spicy shrimp soup. Our Pacha Perú Explorers designers will be sure to set you up with some of these must-have food experiences while in Arequipa.
Arequipa’s outstandingly beautiful Plaza de Armas and surrounding structures have earned it the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 16th century architecture and art can be found in many places of interest throughout the city.
Points of Interest:
Monasterio de Santa Catalina:
Located within Arequipa´s historic city center, this is an actual walled village of 20,000 square meters that once housed cloistered nuns for 400 years and was not opened to the public until 1970. It is filled with elegant period furniture and paintings.
Andean Sanctuary Museum:
This museum is home to displays of ancient indigenous textiles, crafts, ceramics and other articles; Its most famous display is the well-preserved Juanita Mummy, a twelve-year-old girl who is thought to have been an Inca sacrifice.
Misti is one of three spectacular volcanic peaks overlooking the city and can be climbed in two or three days by the moderately experienced mountain-climber. Misti stands at 19,101 ft. above sea level and lies between mount Chachani 19,931 ft. and Pichu Pichu volcano 18,599 ft.
The Colca Canyon & Cotahuasi Canyon:
Two of the deepest canyons in the world, these canyons offer some truly spectacular scenery and views, including pre-Incan architecture and terraces. Visit the area at the right time and you’ll be sure to spot a few Andean Condors in flight!
The Chili River:
Arequipa is one of Peru`s premier spots for whitewater rafting. Located within just 7km of Arequipa`s historic city center, you will find the Chili River, an adventure`s paradise. From water rapids ranging in classes of ll – lV, there is a suitable option for all ages and levels.
The Case for Iquitos
Iquitos, known as the capital of the Peruvian Amazon is a city of some 400,000+ people situated in Northeastern Peru and the entrance to the Peruvian Amazon. It is the largest city in the world that can only be reached by plane or boat. This vibrant, unique, and complex city is highly influenced by the native tribes and the lure of the jungle as well as the European culture that arrived with the rubber boom in the 19th century. Some of the architecture in the town center shows these roots; Alexandre Eiffel, famous for building the Eiffel Tower, constructed the Iron Building on the Plaza de Armas! Iquitos’ climate is hot, humid, and rainy between November and March, and sunny but still quite hot the rest of the year; you will SWEAT when you come to Iquitos. It’s common to cool off with several showers per day or even taking a dip in one of the nearby rivers if you are up for it!
As the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos is full of diverse and colorful influences: tribal crafts from the Shipibo, Bora Bora and other tribes, Amazon pop art paintings with intricate patterns, fantastic animals, and magical creatures, and a large influx of tourists who participate in Ayahuasca ceremonies in retreat centers in the jungle.
The cuisine of Iquitos is unique to the selva, or jungle regions of Peru and includes dishes like fresh river fish, such as paiche and doncella, juanes, a rice and chicken mixture stuffed and cooked inside the leaves of the bijao plant, and tacacho, mashed plantains fried in pork fat. In Iquitos you can also try suri, grilled wood larvae on a stick that you can find in the Belén Market, considered the largest traditional outdoor market in the Peruvian Amazon! Your private tour to Iquitos will most certainly include a visit to this famous and vibrant market.
Points of Interest:
A huge outdoor market with wild jungle meats (some of which are illegal), exotic fruits and vegetables, an extensive herb section with all kinds of medicinal plants and jungle medicines, and food stands, including grilled fish, meats and suri, wood larvae considered a delicacy by some.
This is an ecological park with beaches and a large lake for sunning and swimming; there are also many animals housed in the zoological section of the park, including manatees and a pink river dolphin!
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm:
A short boat ride from the town of Nauta, this sanctuary includes a breeding room for exotic jungle butterflies, which you can see in their caterpillar and butterfly stages; there are also several species of monkeys, a jaguar, and an anteater on the premises.
This riverfront walkway is the center of Iquitos’ bustling nightlife; Most of the tourist restaurants and many bars and nightclubs are located here and there is often street entertainment in the evenings, including demonstrations of Capoeira and musical performances.
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve:
Peru`s second biggest protected natural area is an ideal spot for nature tourism lovers. The reserve protects tropical rainforest ecosystems that contain great biodiversity for the Amazon Rainforest, a Natural Wonder of the World. The main purpose of the reserve is to preserve the flora and fauna resources, as well as a large human population that makes the most of the natural resources.
Luxury Amazon River Cruises:
A unique experience unlike any other. We highly recommend a luxury Amazon cruise if you choose to visit the area of Iquitos. You will take part in a personalized, luxurious, and comprehensive Amazon expedition while experiencing the exotic Amazon River and all the exotic animals that call this area home.
So, there you have it! For a taste of jungle heat, vibrant nature, and the exotic, visit Iquitos. However, if you are more interested in Spanish-influenced culture and art, volcanoes and the beauty of deep canyons, go for Arequipa. And of course, if you have enough time, definitely do both!
Reach out to one of our expert travel designers to begin planning your personalized trip to Peru. We’re here to help you navigate Peru’s many incredible destinations to create the perfect private Peru travel itinerary customized to fit you and your interests.