BEST MONTH TO TRAVEL: May
COUNTRY TO VISIT: Peru
Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina. It is made up of a variety of landscapes, from mountains and beaches to deserts and rain forests. Most people live along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, where the capital, Lima, is located. The world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon, covers nearly half of Peru. Called the selva in Spanish, this huge jungle, which also covers half of Brazil, is home to plants and animals that do not live anywhere else on Earth. Some scientists think there may even be Indian tribes there that have never seen the outside world. The second highest mountain range in the world runs through Peru. These peaks, called the Andes, are so tall and forbidding that the ancient Inca people thought they were gods.
CITY – CUSCO
Cusco, known as the archaeological capital of the Americas, is home to a storied history that included the rise and fall of the Inca Empire followed by the invasion of Spanish conquistadors in the early 1500s. Today, remnants of both eras share the narrow city streets – from centuries-old baroque cathedrals to exquisite stone masonry – creating a rare collision of Andean and Spanish styles that makes Cusco like no other place on earth. The city has come out of the shadow of Peru’s capital, Lima, in recent decades. Millions of tourists make the pilgrimage from Cusco and the Sacred Valley to get a glimpse of South America’s greatest spectacle: Machu Picchu. Discovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in the early 20th century, the fabled ruins are one of the most impressive architectural feats of the ancient world.
PALACIO NAZARENAS, A BELMOND HOTEL, CUSCO
Step past walls of Inca stones and into a cloistered courtyard with an ancient fountain at its heart. But within these timeless walls, contemporary Cusco comes to life. Find a fabulous spa, the city’s first outdoor pool and stylish restaurants serving cutting-edge local cuisine. This intimate urban retreat has just 55 suites, each enriched with oxygen and with its own private bar where guests can create drinks accented with fresh ingredients grown at and around the hotel.
Go all-out on luxury at one of the most stunning hotels in Cusco. Each Signature Suites is unique and brimming with character. All Signature Suites can be enriched with oxygen to help combat altitude sickness.
ACTIVITIES / SITE SEEING : CUSCO
TRAIN JOURNEY TO MACHU PICCHU ON HIRAM BINGHAM
Be swept away by old-world charm as Hiram Bingham journeys through the Peruvian highlands. Gleaming wood-panelled interiors and brass finishes evoke classic 1920’s parlour cars, while vibrant colours and nature-inspired motifs reveal a distinctly Peruvian soul. Savour classic local flavours and gourmet cuisine as the train meanders through the breath-taking Sacred Valley. Celebrate the South American spirit with a lively dance as musicians play in the Bar Car. Marvel at the fertile lands and soaring mountains between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Bring the lost art of the pioneer to life with a thrilling rail adventure through the heart of the Inca Empire on Hiram Bingham.
Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
SAN PEDRO – CUSCO MARKET
It virtually spans over a whole quarter of the city and people from the whole region come to sell their wares here. The name of the market: San Pedro and should have a very high priority on your list of things to do in Cusco! There really is anything you won’t find here, some of it probably a bit more grizzly – but nothing you can’t stomach. Also, don’t shy away from treating yourself to some fresh fruit. They also have many booths selling fresh juices and quite a couple of street food vendors (will be chicken and pork). San Pedro market is split into a huge hall and many, many stalls and booths in front of it and in the whole quarter around it. I do advise you to go exploring a bit – it really gives you the opportunity to breathe in the variety of the Peruvian culture.
Most travellers in Peru will consider buying something made of alpaca wool as a given. After all, alpacas have been an integral part of Peruvian culture for centuries. You can find all kinds of garments and home decor to suit your style. Llama motif sweaters, super-soft baby alpaca scarves, colourful, traditional Peruvian ponchos and blankets. But make sure you’re purchasing real alpaca and not synthetic or a blend. The best place to buy alpaca in Cusco is the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco. A non-profit collective of 600 weavers runs this centre that is both a textile museum and a shop. Some other great alpaca boutique options include Cocoliso Cusco, Etno Alpaca, and Kuna.
Pisco is the national liquor of Peru and considered a national cultural heritage. Good pisco is the foundation of the most popular national cocktail, the Pisco Sour. This high-proof spirit is made from fermented grapes in the sunny coastal regions of Peru. The best pisco is said to come from the Ica region, several hours south of Lima.
COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE
You’ll find some excellent quality products of both coffee and chocolate in Cusco. There are many chocolate shops around Cusco that offer varying presentations and different flavours for you try and buy. There is also the chocolate museum where you can try and make chocolates yourself or savour some of the many delights on offer.
Many chocolates, as well as coffee, comes from La Convencion. Surrounding San Pedro market, you can find small shops and stalls that sell products from the region. You can taste the coffee and see which one you like best to take home and brew up for friends. A few other bits are also on sale from the zone like honey, which is also unlike any you’ve ever tried.
Here’s a seasonal dish that’s served from October to March in seafood restaurants the length and breadth of Florida. The stone crab yields what might be the most tender and succulent meat of any of its sibling crustaceans. Served cracked and chilled on ice, Florida stone crab claws can vary in size, and the sweet, lobster-esque flesh needs barely any seasoning.Choclo, also known as Peruvian or Cusco corn (named for the capital city of the Incas), is not a crop that thrives in the flatlands. It’s an Andean corn with extra-large, bulbous kernels “almost five times bigger than North American corn, and has a creamy texture. Its chewy kernels, though large, make for a more elegant dining experience—they don’t get trapped between your teeth. They’re also not sweet, at all, and starchier than North American corn. The flavor is corn-y but nuttier. There’s a pride these chefs take in serving this most Peruvian of ingredients at their restaurants—and it catching on outside the traditional Peruvian kitchen.
It is a meat dish consisting of small pieces of skewered and grilled meat, the most popular of them made with beef heart, called anticuchos de corazón. Peruvian in origin, the dish quickly gained popularity throughout South and Central America. The first recipe dates back to the 16th century, referring to a meal of marinated llama meat cooked directly over a fire. When the conquistadors encountered the dish, they modified it to make it their own, replacing the llama meat with beef, which was skewered on sugar cane stalks. Today, the meat is typically marinated in red wine vinegar and spices such as garlic, cumin, and aji pepper – developing a fruity flavor when roasted. Anticucho can be found throughout Peru on numerous street carts and street food stalls, called anticucheras.
They are a wonderful South American dessert that features two melt-in-your-mouth cookies with dulce de leche sandwiched in between them. They are, “the best cookie you’ve never heard of” and they are enormously popular around the world. There are restaurant chains whose only product is these cookies, and they have recently begun to find a foothold in the rest of the world. here are different variations from different cultural regions and tons of stuffing options.
COVID TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
Foreigners are now allowed to visit Peru except South Africa. The Government of Peru suspended the entrance of non-resident passengers traveling from South Africa (or travellers who have transited there in the last 14 days) Land borders for travellers are still closed. Mandatory quarantine is no longer required for passengers coming in with negative COVID-19 test. Mandatory quarantine is only necessary for Peruvian citizens and residents coming from South Africa.
Passengers must have:
- a COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing that they were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arrival; or
- a negative COVID-19 NAAT test result issued at most 72 hours before departure from the first embarkation point. Tests accepted are: CRISPR, HDA, LAMP, LampORE, MPOCT, NAAT, NEAR, NGS, PCR, RTLamp, RT-PCR, RealTimeRTPCR, SDA, TMA, TRC, WGS, Orf1abgenedetection, Egenedetection, Ngenedetection, Rdrpgenedetection and Sgenedetection.