West Peru Travel and Tourism Information
The huge and busy Peruvian capital – a unique mixture of decaying beauty, poverty and dynamism of its intellectual life.
Founded in 1535 by the Spanish ‘Conquistador’ Pizarro, Lima is the capital of Peru and situated in the middle of the Peru’s desert coastline. The city replaced Cuzco as capital and soon became the richest settlement of Spain in the New World. For more than three hundred years it was used as the Spain’s capital of South America. Today Lima is a vast and polluted metropolis of over eight and a half million inhabitants. But in many places you can still find impressive historical sights and a great selection of museums. There are a lot of plazas in the city, charming old buildings and beautiful markets.
- Gold museum: The Gold museum has a private collection of pre-Inca and Inca gold, jewelry and ceremonial objects.
- Historic Center: The historic centre has many beautifully designed gates, altars and colonial balconies as well as a bustling pedestrian walkway linking the two plazas.
- Pachacámac: A Pre-Inca and Inca archaeological construction with an interesting exhibition of archaeological remains found in this complex. Investigations presume that this place was inhabited since the year 200 up to 1533. Pachacámac is 31 km. south of Lima, in the valley of Lurín. There is an on-site Museum, open daily from 09:00 to 17:00.
- Access Routes – Lima is the center of all transport, national and international.
- Accommodations – All types of accommodation are available in Lima. It is recommendable to stay in the safer areas of Miraflores or San Isidro.
- When to go – Lima can be visited all year. Summer is from December to May.
- How long – We suggest staying at least 1 complete day in Lima.
- Travel Tips -We recommend to visit the Museum of Archaeology and Architecture, which will give you excellent idea of Peruvian history and culture.
Huaraz and Ancash
A paradise for climbing and trekking is a beautiful mountain area with glaciated valleys and incredible snowcapped sceneries
About Huaraz and Ancash
The Cordillera Blanca is one of Peru’s most popular tourist destinations. This imposing mountain chain has an extension from the north to the south of about 200 kilometers and offers a wide variety of attractions including various glaciated peaks of a height of 6000 meters. The peak “Huascarán” is leading the pack with 6768 meters over sea level. The area is a trekking and climbing Mecca for adventure travelers all over the world.
There are glacial lakes, hot springs and many pre-Inca and Inca ruins to visit. The “Puya Raimondi”, the largest bromeliad in the world is found in the southern part of the range.
The Andes the most famous mountain chain in South America which extends the entire length from the north to the south of the country consists of deep canyons, gigantic peaks and exceptional pre-Columbian archaeological sites. They are divided in two principal ranges – Cordillera Occidental and Oriental with the highest mountain of Peru the “Huascarán” (6770m/22,200ft). With the width of over 400 kilometers (250 miles) and the height of over 7,000 meters (23,000 ft), they are still one of the most impressive but also most unstable mountain regions of the world. However the most exciting pre-Columbian places like the Machu Picchu, close to Cuzco and the most breath-taking peaks of South America can just be found here.
All these complementary environments make Peru to one of the most diverse country of the earth and offer an unique experience with a wealth of inheritance, a pulsating living culture and an incredible variety of amazing sceneries.
- Lagunas Llanganuco & surroundings of Huaraz: Spectacular landscape and snow-covered peaks are waiting for you about 82 kilometers north of Huaraz. The lakes in this region have a unique beautiful shade of turquoise. On the way to “Llangaunco”, you can visit “Yungay”: this small town was completely buried in a huge mudslide caused by an earthquake in 1970, which killed 20,000 people.
- Chavin de Huantar: The town of “Chavin de Huantar” is just north of the famous ruins of the same name. The Chavin culture built the fortress/temple around 600 B.C.
- Trekking: Huaraz is the starting point for climbing and trekking of the famous “Llanganuco/Santa Cruz” trek which is by far the most popular in the whole mountain area of the Cordillera Blanca.
- Access Routes – Huaraz is only accessible by bus from Lima (7 hours) and Trujillo (7 hours).
- Accommodations – There is one premium 3-star class hotel which is called “Casa Andina”. Tourist Class hotels are abundant.
- When to go – The best time to visit “Huaraz” is during the dry season, from April to November. This is especially important in case of trekking as it is not recommendable to hike during rainy season.
- How long – If you just want to get to know the tiny city of “Huaraz”, spend about 2 days in this region. If you are interested in doing trekking, you should prepare yourself more carefully. To get used to the altitude of this mountain region, you should spend several days before trekking in the mountains of “Huaraz”.
Ica, Pisco and Nazca
Where you can find the Inca cemetery of Chauchilla, the famous Nazca Lines and the National Reserve of Paracas
In pre-Inca times, the Ica region was inhabited by people of the Paracas and Nazca cultures. After the domination of Ica by Inca Pachacutec in the XV century, population settlements rose with the purpose of producing and providing local products for the imperial capital of Tihuantinsuyo.
On June 17th 1563, Luis Jeronimo de Cabrera founded Villa de Valverde de Ica, the first Hispanic settlement in the region.
- Laguna Huacachina: The beautiful lagoon Huacachina is an oasis in the desert with supposed healing powers located 5 kilometers south of Ica.
Three hours south from Lima along the coast is Pisco, a small fishing village fifteen minutes by bus from the National Reserve of Paracas.
- Paracas Peninsula: The Paracas Peninsula has plenty of nice spots to visit:
- Lagunillas – a small fishing village, the stone Cathedral which as a result of water and wind erosion is an amazing and extraordinary rock formation, the “Julio Tello Museum” or the “Mirador de los Lobos”
- Ballestas Islands: Known by many as the “poor man’s Galápagos,” these small islands are even so spectacular in their own right and well worth visiting. They are part of a national reserve where sea lions, seals, penguins, guano birds and turtles rarely found at this latitude can be seen.
- On the way there by boat, you will certainly see the famous Candelabro (candlestick) traced in the hillside of the mainland. The drawing is about 50 meters (0,3 miles) believed to be associated with the Nazca Lines. Some relate it also to the Southern Cross constellation, while others say it is a drawing of a cactus, a symbol of power from the Chavin culture.
20 kilometers north from the town of Nazca are the Nazca Lines. Enormous geometric designs and figures of various animals run for several kilometers across the desert. The lines, best viewable from the air were made by the Nazca culture. Starting around 400 B.C, they continued to form shapes for about another thousand years.
Many of scientists have already studied the lines to understand their significance including Maria Reiche, a German mathematician who spent the greater part of her life doing research in Nazca. But still the true meaning of the lines remains a mystery until today.
- Chauchilla: This Inca cemetery is a very special historical graveyard as bones are scattered all over this desert graveyard It is located 30 km (18,64 miles) south of Nazca.
Nazca Lines: The geoglyphs of Nazca and the “Pampas of Jumana” cover about 450 square km and are situated in the arid Peruvian coastal plain 400 km (248 miles) south of Lima. They are seen as one of the most impenetrable enigmas of archaeology by virtue of their quantity, nature and size, as well as their continuity. Various figures have a length of several kilometers. Some of the geoglyphs depict living creatures, plants or imaginary figures, as well as geometric figures. Scientists believe that they the lines had ritual functions connected with astronomy.
- Access Routes – Nazca is connected by the Pan American highway with Lima (7 hours) and Arequipa (11 hours).
- Accommodations – In Ica, Pisco and Nazca there are no 5 star hotels, only premium and tourist class. In Ica the best hotel is called “Las Dunas”. In Pisco, we can recommend the “Hotel Paracas” and in Nazca the new hotel “Cantayo”. Tourist Class hotels are abundant but fairly basic.
- When to go – Nazca can be visited all year round.
- How long – We recommend spending 1 day here.
A large portion of this text was written by Traveler – Writer Craig Milroy.