Peru

The Best Places To See Penguins In South America

Of the 17 species of penguin that occur worldwide, seven can be seen in South America. Their breeding grounds range from the Galapagos Islands along the equator to the Pacific coasts of Peru and Chile and further on down to the continent’s frigid southernmost tip… Galápagos Islands, Ecuador When people think of wildlife in South […]

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A Guide To The Main Structures Of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu isn’t just an archaeological wonder: It’s also an architectural masterpiece. With more than 200 buildings that we know of, intelligently divided into urban and agricultural sectors and an upper town and lower town, there are no finer examples of Inca planning and construction. As you take a tour of Machu Picchu, you’ll see […]

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The Condor Passes: A Guide To Peru’s Majestic Colca Canyon

On the ledge below the overlook, the three birds huddle: a slate-gray mass.  One stands slightly aloof, gazing into the distance, while a second, officious, pecks under the wing of the third.  Above them the canyon air is warm, with a rising early-morning wind.  Rufflike plumes ripple with the breeze. After a moment, bird three […]

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Seven Things To Do In Puno, Peru

Puno, Peru suffers from a case of bad PR. Ask most travelers about the windswept Andean town, and you’ll likely get a lot of blank stares. “Puno—where exactly is that?” Those same travelers will prick up their ears at the mention of neighboring Lake Titicaca, or of the Islands of the Sun on the Bolivian […]

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Sex, Mayhem, And Snacks In Lima’s Pre-Colombian Museo Larco

Lima, Peru. It’s a quiet weekday morning at the Museo Larco, in the peaceful historic district of Pueblo Libre. Warm sunlight glints off the white manorial façade. In the café, a waiter is laying tablecloths for lunch, while off the deserted courtyard, purple and red azaleas nod in the pre-noon languor. Meanwhile, oblivious to all […]

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Day Two At Machu Picchu: Four Top Options

So you’ve finally done it. You’ve bought your PeruRail tickets, your entrance pass, and your chuyo, and you’re on your way to Machu Picchu. Mission accomplished—at least the first stage. By now your envious friends are blowing up your Facebook page with “OMG! How exciting!” posts and asking you to fill up your memory card […]

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Pisac: Cuzco’s Most Mysterious Ruin

High above the Andean town of Pisac, carved into a rock face that looks out over a valley of soft green terraces, there is a tunnel. A slender, teardrop-shaped slit arrived at via a narrow pass. This tunnel extends for 16 meters through an outcrop of solid granite, and is just wide enough for one […]

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Peru’s Great Banquet: Chowing Down At Lima’s Mistura

“¡Oye, maestro, más chancho rapidito!” The cook’s face gleams with sweat as he barks the order to the runner hauling slabs of raw pork to the grill. Spicy smoke rises from the coals, blackening the awning. The line cooks scramble to dish up plates of salad to await the chancho al palo (pork on a […]

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Ollantaytambo: Temple-Citadel Of The Incas

Horror: That was the immediate reaction of the Spanish upon seeing Ollantaytambo. Given their situation, you can hardly blame them. At some 200 feet high, and made up of coursed ashlar stones weighing 50 tons or more, the massive walls and terraced parapets of this Inca stronghold would well have struck fear into the hearts […]

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Siku Panflutes Bring Home The Sound Of The Andes

A song drifted across the plaza.  A forceful melody defined by a rhythmic flute that almost sounded like an animal breathing.  A week later, as I climbed the ruins at Ollantaytambo, I still couldn’t get it out of my head. Andean folk music is defined by the haunting tones of the Siku, the Andean panflute.  […]

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Art And Artisans In Cuzco’s San Blas Neighborhood

Juana Mendívil has a story she likes to tell about her father, Hilario. As a young boy growing up in Cuzco’s arty San Blas district, Hilario early on was infected by his barrio’s mania for sculpture.  Every day after school he’d stop to peer in the neighborhood studios, to watch the masters work.  It was […]

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The Soul Of Black Peru: Lima’s Música Criolla

Three high double-stops from the guitar announce the song’s opening.  Two trills and a rapid slide down the neck, and the crowd explodes into whoops and cheers.  A series of meditative, arpeggiated chords.  A pause.  Then the guitarist launches into a fast waltz rhythm, percussive and full of manly swagger, in which he’s joined by […]

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Letting Them Eat Cebiche: The Art Of Gastón Acurio

A chef for president?  Don’t laugh: in Peru, it could really happen. Citizens of the Andean nation take food—and those who prepare it—very seriously.  Last year, when rumors began circulating that Gastón Acurio, the country’s superstar cuisinier, might run for the country’s top political office, there was a media explosion.  Frenetic foodies began calling Acurio’s […]

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In Praise Of Peru’s Humble Tuber

Think you know potatoes? Wander into any market in Peru and try to count the different types of potato on offer.  There are small black ones, yellow lumpy ones, long thin striped ones, some that look like pine cones, some that look like a bunch of black grapes.  And every single one has its own […]

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Peru’s Other Lost Cities

The sun beat down on my head and baked the adobe that spread around me for 10 miles.  I was exploring Chan Chan the world’s largest adobe structure, and I was unprepared for the blinding light and blistering heat. Around the next corner I found blessed relief; shade trees and a pool of water, fed […]

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Visiting Lima: Ten Must-Do Experiences

Lima, with its 10 million inhabitants, 49 sprawling districts, and world-class cuisine, may just be Peru’s least-known destination. True, all visitors to the Andean nation “know” Lima in that they’re required to pass through its bustling airport, and some even manage to set aside a day or two to blow through a few attractions. But […]

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Quipu: Ancient Writing System Used By The Incas

The motorcycle taxi driver had my number immediately. Every time I stepped out of my hotel in Mancora, there he was offering me a ride. It took longer for me to figure out what he was doing with the colorful cords tied to the handlebars of his machine. He knotted one cord whenever I paid him. Another cord seemed to be unraveling each time.

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