Just when you thought you knew it all, you find there is much more to discover. This is the effect that Peru has on its visitors

Peru is one of the countries with the best economic growth in the world. The resulting modernity leads to an original combi- nation of the traditional and the avant garde, especially in its cuisine, music, fashion design and popular art. No other country can offerthis unique mix.

The tourist attractions in this country appeal to visitors from all around the world and with a wide range of different inter- ests. Peru boasts a multitude of natural areas:

Mountains and snowy peaks, deserts, beaches, forests, jungles and infinite diversity. The State, aware of how important it is to preserve this natural wealth, has set up National Parks that cover almost 20 percent of the country. Peru is one of the twelve mega diverse countries in the world because it has an enormous variety of eco-systems, where the flora and fauna can find the conditions they need to carry on living and growing in freedom. It has six terrestrial types of biomass, two marine types and three freshwater types. Its geography also contains 28 of the 32 types of climate in the world. Ten thousand years of history are present in Peru: it is one of the main original centres of ancient culture. The Pre-Incan civilisations and the Incan Empire have left marks that are still visible today in over 5,000 archaeological sites. And this number continues to rise as new discoveries are made. Peru promises its guests a thoroughly revealing stay: a past that is still alive and pulsating, an immense and varied culture that smiles towards the future, a sense of pride writ large, and a happy, friendly character that shows itself in thousands of dances and songs. This is why everyone who comes to Peru ends up taking some part of it away in their heart.

Peru is divided into three distinct regions: coast, mountains and Amazonia.

The Coast

The Peruvian coast, which borders the Pacific Ocean, is over 3,000 kilometres in length. Its beaches, bays and inlets are noted for their beauty, the quality of their climate and the abundance of fish, which translates into dishes of indescrib- able flavour. But it also has so much more to offer. This region is perfect for indulging in numerous activities such as surfing, windsurfing, sports fishing and kite surfing. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy moments of relaxation, as the coastal scenery exudes a sense of peace and tranquillity. Pre-Incan cultures of enormous importance settled on the Peruvian coast and it is still possible to see in their remains how the Peruvian people of old lived in these lands.

Mountains

The Andes form the backbone of Peru. Their majestic mountains and their valleys full of peaceful life fortify the spirit and fiil the senses. But it would be wrong to think of this as a region of monotonous landscapes. On the contrary; each area has its own particular attractions accentuated by distinct cultural expressions. The cuisine, music, regional dress and even the archaeological sites in each place offer their own unique charm. The Peruvian mountains are perfect for adventure sports such as trekking, canoeing, climbing, mountain biking, downhill skiing and mountaineering. As with the coast and the jungle, the scenery will take your breath away, especially the lakes: there are more than 3,000 of these and each one has its own distinct colour.

Amazon Rain Forest

Amazonia, a natural wonder of the world, is the largest natural region in Peru, noted for its low density population and its high diversity of animal and plant species. It has been estimated that the majority of the flora and fauna of the region has stili not been discovered, which makes it the ideal place for exploring minds. Anyone who visits the Peruvian jungle will find a new world, full of colour and vibrant sounds. The rivers and water- courses that criss-cross the region give it a refreshing touch that only serves to intensify the beauty of the surroundings.

History

The cultural wealth of the ancient Peruvian civilisations is never better expressed than through archaeology. Climbing among the terraces of Machu Picchu or along the Inca Trail is a way of connecting with the powerful Empire and the extraordinary way it adapted its architecture to its natural surroundings. And strolling through the streets of Cusco is to discover an unri- valled combination of native and Hispanic influences, especially in the churches, many housed in former Incan temples. The PreIncan legacy is equally astonishing. The treasures buried with the Lord of Sipan speak of the sumptuous life led by the Moche aristocracy while Chavı’n de Huantar or Pachacamac, both centres of pil- grimage and oracles, show that the spirituality and mysticism that characterise the Peruvian people have been forged over centuries.

Live Culture

The legacy of the past survives in the Peruvian people of the present. Around three million speak Quechua, the language of the Incas, and hundreds of thousands more communicate in some of the 46 other native tongues. Visiting rural communities and taking part in local activities will help you to understand the fact that respect and community work are essential elements of living together in harmony. And the offering ceremonies to Pachamama, Mother Earth, will make you realise how important it is to give thanks.

There are over 3,000 festivities during the year, most of them paying homage to the patron saints. Get lively and get involved, because even if you lack the skill, you will be one more person sharing in the sheer joy with which the Peruvian people move their feet, their waists, their hips and their shoulders.

Natural Beauty

Peru is home to 84 of the 117 zones of life found on this earth. Captivating flora and fauna come together in natural habitats divided among ali the different types of physical geography of Peru, from the dry forests and mangrove swamps of the coast to the peaks and canyons of the Andes and the immense plains of the jungle regions. In Peru, the natural beauty captivates the senses and deepens awareness. But what does it actually offer? More than 3,000 species of orchid and over 1,800 species of bird, which as we know is a match made in heaven. That’s why birdwatching has become an unmissable activity in Peru. The species of mammals and reptiles can be counted in their hundreds and those of insects in the thousands. Amazonia has the largest number and variety, which is why we recommend that you increase the memory of your camera and enjoy every moment.

Adventure

Restless souls find Peru to be a land of challenging and ener- getic adventures, full of adrenaline, where the combination of extreme sports and magnificent natural scenery ensures that every visitor feels, with good reason, that they are having thejourney of their dreams. Surfing, paragliding, hang gliding, canoeing and trekking are just some of the activities that you can do if you are looking for true sensation – and all against a backdrop of utterly beautiful landscapes.

Cuisine

Peru has more native dishes than any other country in the world. İt can offer hundreds of different flavours, aromas, textures and co- lours, all of which are waiting to demonstrate that what the most renowned gourmets of the world are saying is no exaggeration. Go crazy with world famous ceviche and be amazed by the infinite varieties of potato (there are more than 3,000), peppers, fruit and maize. Remember these names, because you will end up loving them: Anticucho, chupe de camarones, pachamanca, causa, inchicapi…

And to finish, desserts that will convince you that Peru has its sweetness too, causing you to exclaim with delight. Remember that a Peruvian meal is only truly complete with a bottle of authentic Pisco – invented here over 400 years ago – and a glass of pisco sour or some other cock- tail made with the national drink of Peru.

Urban Life

Beyond all its natural beauty, Peru also has some modern, cutting edge cities. Shopping centres, art galleries, museums, cinemas, theatres and bookshops are growing in number, which means there is also an even wider range of cultural and entertainment options. Furthermore the typical charm is maintained in the traditional “barrios”, the pubs and bars and, above all, in the “penas”, the music clubs that are home to the folkloric shows. The night life in cities like Cusco, Arequipa and Iquitos is particularly original. Lima, too, has its own charms and is growing increasingly cosmopolitan.

KUELAP: ANCIENT FORTRESS OF THECLOUD WARRIORS

Built by the Chachapoyas, the fortified citadel of Kuelap was home to the Warriors of the Cloud in Peru, before they were conquered by invaders. Massive stone walls and hundreds of ruins stand as a reminder of a formidable culture lost to history. Kuelap is one of the largest ancient stone monuments in the New World, and is located 3.000 meters (approximately 10.000 feet) above sea level on the slope of the Andes in northern Peru.

Believed to have been a fortified citadel, the monument was built by the Chachapoyas. These people, known also as the “Warriors of the Cloud”, were a Pre-Incan people living in the cloud forests of what is today the Amazonas Region of Peru. Based on the archaeological evidence, Kuelap was built around the sixth century A.D., and continued to be in use until the 16 th century A.D. It has been thought that the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas sometime in the second half of the 15 th century. Kuelap, however, seems to have been left alone by the Incas, and the Chachapoyas continued to live there. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16 thcentury, however, the Chachapoyas culture collapsed, and Kuelap was abandoned. Over the course of the centuries, exposure to the elements has taken a toll on Kuelap. While locals were likely to have been aware of the existence of Kuelap, it was only in 1843 that the site was rediscovered by the outside world.