The precious country of Peru is a South American country that should not be overlooked. From its different geographical climates, deeply embedded culture, majestic sites as well as humble cities and towns; Peru offers endless valuable learning experiences to all travelers alike.
Discover Peru by beginning from the ancient Incas civilization which was later conquered and colonized by the Spanish during the Spanish Conquest. Hike up volcanoes, trek along the Inca trail or gaze on the train that runs through all the wonders of the Sacred Valley; before you arrive at the breath-taking final destination of Machu Picchu.
Peru is fantastic for the adventurous and history admirers - however, the real treat is interacting with the locals who are warm, compassionate and ready to share their culture with every curious pair of eyes. With great immersion opportunities such as homestays and school visits; Peru has something for every teacher and student traveler, who will inevitably have a different perception of life at the end of their trip.
Here's our list of 8 remarkable gems that will make you fall in love with Peru.
1) The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
Famous for being South America's largest lake and the most navigable in the world; floating through Lake Titicaca is a definite can't miss Peruvian experience. History lovers, adventure seekers, and art admirers; will be in for a treat exploring the floating islands of Uros and Taquile. The island of Uros is home to the pre-Incan Uru people. A population of only 35, these kind and warm-hearted people are always welcoming to tourists and ready to share their woven crafts, their way of living and sense of community. The entire experience is incredibly eye-opening as these people live on an island constantly rebuilt out of dried reeds which float atop Lake Titicaca. For lovers of the arts and everything crafty, you will fall in love on the island of Taquile, which is recognized by UNESCO as a "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". The people of Taquile, Taquileños; are known for their fine handwoven clothing and textiles which are deemed as the absolute best in Peru. That being said; save your money for unique Peruvian souvenirs, for your loved ones (and yourself!), on this incredible island.
2) The Salt Ponds of Maras
Just North of Cusco, you will find yourself in the town, a part of the Sacred Valley, known as Maras. The town of Maras is famously known for its unique cultivation of salt and evaporation basins. Dating back to pre-Inca times, the method of obtaining salt is through evaporating the salty stream of water from the mountain close by, in one of the very many basins. This method has not changed and many families residing in the close-by towns continue to receive their salt from these ponds. Each family has a designated basin, which is determined on the size of their family. Apart from this ancient process, this picturesque site is something to see at least once in your life. As if it wasn’t already cool enough, travelers can even walk through the walkways of each salt basin!
3) The Peruvian Amazon
Although the Amazon rainforest is usually associated with Brazil as it holds a majority of it; many have argued that Peru is the better place to experience the Amazon. In this part of the Amazon, you will find Peru’s sixth most populated city; Iquitos. Given the nickname "Amazon Venice" because of its many waterways and canals for citizens to get around; the only way to visit this city is by plane. Surrounded by the beautiful rainforest, travelers are not only invited to feast their eyes on this special city but also on the vast biodiversity of the Amazon surrounding them.
Moray is another archaeological site which dates back to Inca times. These Inca ruins are quite the inspiring site to see. Moray consists of several enormous circle depressions and is an example of the different climatic conditions on crops as each circle falls deeper in depth - meaning a change in temperature and longer distance from the sun.
The Inca Trail is a major part of all Peru itineraries and the Sacred Valley is the main part of this trek. Ollantaytambo is a small town you can stop through while on your way to Machu Picchu. An Inca archaeological site, the architecture, and sense of community is still present as the town is still home to many inhabitants today. As you walk through this ancient town, you will find many indigenous people living in the smalls homes which once hosted the Inca civilization.
A small Andean village in the Sacred Valley offers visitors a different travel experience – one far from the typical touristy features. Teachers and students have the option of volunteering and partaking in everyday life of Misminay. Discover the tight-knit community of Misminay and welcoming families whose life consists of; raising guinea pigs, cows, and sheep; harvesting crops, creating beautiful traditional hand-woven crafts while simply living and having fun. Communicate with the locals, partake in workshops on weaving traditional crafts and build toys from recyclable material for the village children.
7) Lima's Magic Water Tour at the Park of the Reserve
While Lima’s colonial parts of the city offer valuable learning and teaching experiences; Lima’s incredible Magic Water tour is truly something to see. Take a tour through the Park of the Reserve’s thirteen colorful and interactive fountains; offering visitors the ability to walk through and under cascading water streams. This fountain tour, built in 2007, is the largest fountain complex in the entire world. The idea behind these dancing and colorful water fountains is that anything is possible in Lima and in Peru.
8) Machu Picchu
A trip to Peru would not be complete without experiencing the incredible Lost City of the Incas; famously known as Machu Picchu. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Machu Picchu sits at the edge of the Sacred Valley and at 2,430 meters high in the sky. It is said that the Inca civilization had built this city in 1451, only to be abandoned less than a century later during the Spanish Conquest. The city remained a secret and unknown to the Spanish, as well as the entire world until 1911; when an American historian, Hiram Bingham, discovered it. Today, Machu Picchu is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World which is preserved and limited to host a certain number of travelers every day. Therefore, a reservation is a must.