My wife and I, together with 4 friends, travelled in Peru from 13th to 28th of April, 2006. Places visited include Lima, Nazca, Arequipa, Chivay, Puno, Cuzco, Pasac, Maras, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu Pueblo.………………….
We visited Paracas National Reserve, the Nazca lines, the spectacularly beautiful Colca Valley, a floating island of the Uros and Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca, and the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. The 4 men trekked the 45km long Inca Trail from Km82 to Machu Picchu while the 2 ladies visited the Sacred Valley.
Peru is a country of geographic contrasts. Travelling from the dry desert to the lush jungle, the tourist, the anthropologist, the mountain climber and the birdwatcher find a multiplicity of landscapes, peoples, fauna and flora and archaeological monuments.
Culturally, the country is equally diverse: From the Afro-Peruvian music of the coast to the floating islands of the Uros of Lake Titicaca, from the Shipibo pottery of the Amazon, to the fine cuisine of Cuzco, from the white colonial buildings of Arequipa, to the adobe architecture of Cajamarca, a journey across Peru constantly stimulates the traveller’s senses.
The third largest country in South America, Peru lies entirely within the tropics.
Geographically, Peru has three distinctive regions – a narrow coastal belt, the wide Andean mountains and the Amazon rain forest. The coastal strip is mainly desert but contains Peru’s major cities and its best highway, the Carretera Panamericana. Rivers running down the western slopes of the Andes form about 40 oases, which are agricultural centres.
The Andes rise rapidly from the coast to heights of 6000m just 100km inland. Huascaran (6768m) is Peru’s highest mountain. Most of Peru’s Andes lie between 3000m and 4000m, with jagged ranges separated by deep, vertiginous canyons. Spectacular scenery compensates for the terrible condition of the roads.
The eastern Andes receive much more rainfall than the dry western slopes and so are covered in green cloud forest. As elevation is lost, the cloud forest becomes the rain forest of the Amazon Basin, a region of few roads.
Over half of Peru’s 26 million inhabitants are concentrated in the narrow coastal desert. Lima’s population is approaching eight million, and the second- and third-largest cities, Arequipa and Trujillo (also in the coastal region) are home to nearly a million people each.
Almost half of the population lives in the highlands, and these people are mainly campesinos – peasants who practice subsistence agriculture. There are few large cities in the highlands, but many small towns. The standard of living there is poor, and many campesinos have migrated to the coast, where population growth is a problem.
More than 60% of Peru lies east of the Andes in the Amazon Basin, but only 5% of the population lives there. The region is slowly becoming colonized.
More than half the population is Indian and one-third is mestizo. About 12% are white and 2% are black or of Asian or other descent.