Top Holiday Destinations 2019: Peru & the Galapagos Islands
The first of CLC World Resorts & Hotels’ top destinations for 2019 is Peru & the Galapagos Islands.
Describing itself as “the richest country in the world”, Peru has a wealth of natural and man-made treasures to explore. Whether it is enjoying their unique gastronomy, living incredible experiences, absorbing its natural beauty or discovering the cultural traditions that span millennia, holidays to Peru will create lasting memories.
And while you’re in the vicinity, follow in the footsteps (or wake) of Charles Darwin and visit a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’: the 20 Galapagos Islands that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Holidays to Peru: A Treasure Trove of Experiences
Quite possibly Peru’s most famous landmark is Machu Picchu, located within the Inca’s Sacred Valley. The city’s streets and temples lie across a ridge that sits 300 metres above the Rio Urubamba. The sun, moon, water and earth were sacred to the Incas and intrinsic to Machu Picchu’s formation and layout. Designed to promote and preserve the relationship between man and nature, Machu Picchu’s intricate terraces and gardens are fed by a complex system of aqueducts.
If your dream is to come across the city at dawn as the mist clears to show the ruins in all their splendour, then hiking the Inca Trail is the way to arrive. The alternative, for those not so keen on hiking, is to let the train take the strain. With comfortable carriages, there are three routes to choose from ranging from 90 minutes (Ollantaytambo) to around 3 hours (Cuzco) each way.
Gateway to the Inca Trail, Cuzco is an excellent base for holidays to Peru. A cosmopolitan and accommodating city, Cuzco is a mash of old and new, imported and local – McDonalds on one street corner, bottle-fed llamas on another – with museums, cathedrals and captivating markets.
If a week-long hike through the Andes is a step too far for some, there are excellent day trips from the city to nearby Inca ruins: Puca Pucara, Sacsayhuaman and Q’enqo.
Cuzco’s gastronomy is designed to fill you up and energise for days in the mountains. Try a stew of broad beans, milk, eggs and cheese (Kapchi) or Chicharrón with mole (pork cooked in its own fat with corn grains).
Peru’s capital is delightfully chaotic and sublimely sophisticated. Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza de Armas, is a broad open square lined by the cathedral, Government Palace, Archbishop’s Palace and Municipal Palace with a bronze fountain in the centre. The heart of the old colonial city, visitors are taken back to the early 16th century when Pizarro first started designing his City of Kings.
Barranco is Lima’s ‘arty district’ with walls filled with street art and bright colourful buildings. A draw for artist and non-artists alike, Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) is a little wooden bridge that connects Ayacudo Street to the Church of the Hermitage. Built in 1876, it became the focal point for Peruvian poets and, as night follows day, lovers. The amorous wooing lent the bridge its name – all those wistful sighs of love! However, if you hold your breath for the whole 30 metre crossing, you’re entitled to a wish…
Peru is synonymous with quality coffee, the finest beans growing in the country’s valleys and mountains, and much of it is organic. You’re assured of a superb cup of the hot, dark liquid throughout the country with sufficient caffeine to keep you going all day.
And who doesn’t enjoy a good brandy after a meal? Peru’s gift to the world is Pisco, a colourless or yellow/amber brandy made from distilling the juice of one of the eight varieties of Pisco grapes.
If cocktails are more your thing, use the brandy to create a Peruvian classic.
A name to tangle with… Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world supplied by 25 rivers.
Enjoy spectacular scenery if you head there via train from Cuzco – a patchwork landscape of farms, waterfalls and mountains. Once at the lake you will find locals maintaining traditions that date back 3,000 years. The lake is a veritable melting pot of Peru’s diverse cultures and the floating Islas Uros, composed of reeds anchored to the bottom of the lake’s shallows, are a sight to behold.
With its ancient cultures, incredible natural scenery (think rainbow coloured mountain) and colonial cities, Peru offers travellers a breath-taking array of unforgettable experiences.
To put the icing on the cake, a cruise or flight to the Galapagos Islands is the natural next step, taking you even further back in history.
Whether you fly to the Galapagos Islands or cruise round them one thing is certain, you will be awestruck when you discover its unique environment and animals.
If you’re a scuba diver, the challenging dives in the islands’ waters are a must. The underwater world opens up to you in all its majesty – schools of colourful fish, marine iguanas and gently flapping rays are close by while hammerhead sharks skulk in the distance.
On shore, the delightfully named blue-footed booby, giant tortoises and land iguanas show little natural fear of humans providing the opportunity for close up encounters. Meander through lava fields, beaches and along cliff tops and mangrove estuaries and soak up the untarnished surroundings on a Galapagos – Machu Picchu tour.
There is so much to see and do in Peru and the Galapagos Islands that you may wonder where to start and this is where your trusted travel expert is a priceless asset. Tailoring holidays to your specific requirements, while giving advice and support throughout the booking process, our ABTA registered travel expert CLC World Travel, can custom-build your holiday, your way!
Take a look at their Galapagos Cruise & Machu Picchu trip that takes in many of the islands, the Peruvian cities of Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, with a bonus guided tour of Quito in Ecuador to start this once in a lifetime holiday off in style.