The spider, the monkey, the hummingbird: the ancient geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines have impressed themselves upon popular consciousness thanks to appearances in numerous books, films and movies since their discovery almost ninety years ago. But as familiar as these evocative figures can seem today, surprising discoveries are still being made.
In the Peruvian desert, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find the most ancient city in the Americas, the remain from a surprisingly advanced civilization.
Machu Picchu Sanctuary provides refuge to varied plant and animal life, including the endangered spectacled bear, the colorful Cock of the Rocks, and an astounding number of orchid and butterfly species. The area is under threat, however, by the 6.3 tons of waste left behind by hikers each month. Now, local government and travel agencies are banding together to cut the use of items such as plastic bags and batteries and to save Machu Picchu Sanctuary.
The spectacled bear, the only bear in South America, is a rare sight these days. Not only is the animal notoriously shy, but it is also endangered. However, tourists visiting the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu were treated to a surprise last week as one young bear was spotted descending the stepped agricultural terraces of the site before retreating towards the high-altitude forest that surrounds the ruins.
National Geographic Traveler Magazine recently compiled a list titles “10 Places to See Now, and you might be surprised to know that Chan Chan made the list. Not because the adobe city isn’t impressive- it’s the largest adobe city in the world, the largest pre-Columbian city of the Americas, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rather, it’s a surprise because this astounding site is so little-known to those outside of Peru.
Puno, the city known as the Folkloric Capital of Peru, celebrates its founding anniversary in a colorful way. Stop by Puno this week to watch elaborately costumed devils in a dance in procession to the beat of traditional Andean highland music, or watch the legendary founder of the Incan empire rise again from the waters of Lake Titicaca in a spectacle involving more than 600 actors.
From the city of Cusco, you can easily see the two imposing snow-capped peaks of Mt Salkantay, which lends its name to a hike known for outstanding views and named one of the the 25 Best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. The trek takes one from frigid high Andean mountain passes through the cloud forest and into the jungle brow. If you’d like to visit the ruins of Machu Picchu Citadel but would like an alternative to the overbooked Inca Trail to Machu
Chinchero's modest handicraft market, Incan ruins, and Spanish colonial church attract travelers who walk the cobblestone streets alongside a Quechua-speaking population that depends mainly on traditional weaving and subsistence farming. They would refer to Chinchero as a village, but local and national authorities have a new vision for Chinchero: with the help of specialists from the government of Singapore, Chinchero aims to become Peru's first 'Smart City'.
Peru is thought to be home to 600-2,500 endangered Andean condors. That’s a pretty big range, isn’t it? It’s this uncertainty that’s inspired the upcoming condor census- Peru's first. It's the first step in saving the Andean condor, the world's largest bird of flight and an stunning sight for many travelers.
There were some big changes this week with Peru's national parks and natural reserves. You can now buy online tickets directly for some parks which before required you to go through an agency. There's also a new, informative and free app available for travelers and a 'passport' that will allow you to visit 10 parks in two years on the cheap.