Machu Picchu

 

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (sometimes called “the Lost City of the Inca”) is a well preserved Pre-Columbian town located on a high mountain ridge (at an elevation of about 6,750 feet) above the Urubamba valley in modern-day Peru. The name Machu Picchu literally means “old peak”. It is thought the city was built by the Inca Pachacuti starting in about 1440 and was inhabited until the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1532. Archeological evidence (together with recent work on early colonial documents) shows that it was not a conventional city; rather it was a sort of country retreat town for the Inca and other nobility. The site has a large palace and temples around a courtyard, with other dwellings for the support staff. It is estimated that a maximum of only about 750 people resided in Machu Picchu at any one time, and probably only a small fraction of that number during the rainy season and when no nobles were visiting.

It is thought that the site was chosen for its unique location and geological features. It is said that the silhouette of the mountain range behind Machu Picchu represents the face of the Inca looking upward towards the sky, with the largest peak, Waynapicchu, representing his nose. The Inca believed that the solid rock of the Earth should not be cut and so built this city from rock quarried from loose boulders found in the area. Some of the stone architecture uses no mortar, but rather relied on extremely precise cutting of blocks that results in walls with cracks between stones through which a credit card will not pass.

The city became re-introduced to larger society by Yale historian, Hiram Bingham, who first visited it on July 24, 1911. Bingham was exploring old Inca roads in the area. Bingham was led to Macchu Picchu by Quechuans or Incans who were living in Macchu Picchu in the original Incan infrastructure. Bingham made several more trips and conducted excavations on the site through 1915. He wrote a number of books and articles about Machu Picchu; his popular account Lost City of the Incas became a best-seller.

In 1913 the site received a significant amount of publicity after the National Geographic Society devoted their entire April 1913 issue to Machu Picchu.

The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction. In 2003, some 400,000 people visited Machu Picchu, and UNESCO has expressed concern about the damage this volume of tourism is causing to the site. Peruvian authorities insist that there is no problem, and that the remoteness of the site will impose natural limits on tourism. 

One of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s best-known works is “The Heights of Macchu Picchu”, inspired by the city.

Inti Raymi

 

Inti Raymi

Sacsayhuamán (aka Saqsaywaman) are walls near the old city of Cuzco. Some believe the walls were a form of fortification. While others believe it was only used to form the head of the Puma that Sacsayhuamán along with Cuzco form when seen from above. Like all Inca stonework there is still mystery surrounding how they were constructed.

Today, the annual Inca festival celebrating the winter solstice and new year, Inti Raymi, is held near Sacsyhuamán on June 24th.

Today, it’s the second largest festival in South America. Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Cuzco from other parts of the nation, South America and the world for a week long celebration marking the beginning of a new year, the Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun.

The centerpiece of the festival are the all-day celebrations on June 24, the actual day of Inti Raymi. On this day, the ceremonial events begin with an invocation by the Sapa Inca in the Qorikancha square in front of the Santo Domingo church, built over the ancient Temple of the Sun. Here, the Sapa Inca calls on the blessings from the sun. Following the oration, Sapa Inca is carried on a golden throne, a replica of the original which weighed about 60 kilos, in a procession to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán, in the hills above Cuzco. With the Sapa Inca come the high priests, garbed in ceremonial robes, then officials of the court, nobles and others, all elaborately costumed according to their rank, with silver and gold ornaments.

A white llama is sacrificed (now in a very realistic stage act) and the high priest holds aloft the bloody heart in honor of Pachamama. This is done to ensure the fertility of the earth which in combination with light and warmth from the sun provides a bountiful crop. The priests read the blood stains to see the future for the Inca.

 

 

 

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Arequipa

 

 Arequipa

Arequipa is a city in the Southern Coastal region of Peru just below the edge of the Altiplano, at 2380 meters above sea level and surrounded by three impressive volcanoes. It’s Peru’s second most important city (after Lima), and the second most popular among tourists (after Cuzco).

Escudo_Arequipa_PerúThe city is part of the so called “Southern Peru Tourist Corridor”, together with Nazca, Puno and Cusco. In contrast to these other cities, Arequipa is an example of the Spanish and mestizo culture developed in Peru. There are no Inca artifacts or ruins in the city.
In the winter it is warmer than in the summer. It is nicknamed the ‘white city’ (la ciudad blanca, in Spanish), because many of the buildings in the area are built of sillar, a white stone. This rock was quarried from the many volcanoes that surround the city, including the towering El Misti. Ask for local help to identify Misti, Chachani and PichuPichu, the three volcanoes surrounding the city.
Arequipa embodies a rich mix of the indigenous and Spanish colonial cultures. With 468 years of history since its founding, examples of Spanish colonial architecture can be found throughout the center of the city and several surrounding districts. UNESCO has declared it Human Heritage site. Catholic churches are scattered throughout the center of the city. Some ancient houses have been refurbished by the local authorities and serve as living museums. An example of this are the so-called “Tambos” located at Puente Bolognesi street. 

How to go

By plane

By far the easiest way to get to Arequipa is by plane, landing in Rodríguez Ballón airport (IATA: AQP), 8km from the city. LanPerú, Peruvian Airlines and Taca fly from Lima, Juliaca and Cuzco. A taxi from the airport to the Plaza de Armas costs a flat-rate of S/20; go to the counter before leaving the baggage claim area to avoid hassle. Signs are posted with this rate, but depending on the size of the car, the size of your bags and your bartering skills you could pay less. No public transportation is available to/from the airport.

By bus

There are two terminals serving the city, Terminal Terrestre and Terminal Terrapuerto. They’re next to each other, about 3km from the center. A taxi should cost around 10 soles (May 2014) but prices are fixed based on distance. You need a taxi to get to your hotel. Take taxis WITHIN the parking lot of the bus station. Those are registered official taxis. Express kidnappings have being reported with passengers taking taxis outside the bus stations. You can use buses/combis to get to/from the main bus terminal for 0.75 soles per person to Plaza de Armas (August 2014); much cheaper than a taxi and still quite quick. Usually Hotels do not organize pickups from bus station because buses delay and time of arrival is not exact. But you can ask your hotel to call a taxi for you when you arrive to the bus station. It will take no more than 20 minutes waiting.
An option to go from Cusco, Lima, Paracas, Ica or Huacachina is to take one of the Peru Hop buses. This service has brand new cama buses with movies in English and Spanish their passes allow you to hop on or hop off at any of these places. Peru Hop includes hotel/hostel pick-ups and drop-offs which is pretty neat from a safety/no taxi fare viewpoint.

From Lima (30-130 soles, 16-18 hours) it’s advisable to take non-stop express buses — though more expensive, they tend to be safer. Cruz del Sur, Oltursa and Excluciva are reputable companies with special tourist services. They leave from dedicated VIP terminals in Lima. Most express buses leave starting at 5 pm in order to get to Arequipa early morning. Its a night trip and has no view attraction. A special service from Cruz del Sur leaves at 9 pm and let you enjoy watching the beautiful coast of Arequipa during the trip. Regular or local services stop too many times on the way and your risk of loosing your luggage is very high. Avoid them.

From Cusco an option is Cruz del Sur Cruzero service. Its expensive but a night non stop express service with comfortable buses. You arrive to Arequipa very early, at 6-7 am. Be aware some hotels will not give you a room that early.

From Ica (12 hours). Cruz del Sur offers a night nonstop express service with comfortable seating. For Ica Andoriña bus was the cheapest (50/S. 10 hours – 5 times a day) but it stopped too many times, the AC wasn’t working and it was difficult to really sleep.

From Puno Cruz del Sur daily service leaves at 3.30 pm. Some Expresso services are also available with 4M and Giardino Tours. If you are a group (4+) you can rent a charter. All the local companies providing regular cheap service have being reported as bad and unsafe for tourists. Julsa has been reported as the worst service available.

From Tacna or Chile the best option is Florez Hnos Super Dorado service leaving from Tacna National Bus Station. You better leave before night time. Its a 5 hour trip but because of customs procedures to avoid counterband the bus can be delayed 1 to 3 hours.

La Paz Ormeños has direct buses leaving at 1AM every day, passing through Puno at 6AM (40 Soles) and arriving in La Paz at 12 midday (60$).

By train

Charter trains to Juliaca and Puno are only available for groups of 40 or more.

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Cusco

 

Cusco

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru in the Huatanay Valley (Sacred Valley), of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco region and has a population of about 300,000, triple the population it contained just 20 years ago. Alternate spellings include Cusco in Spanish and with pre-1987 Quechua orthography, and Qosqo with post-1987 Quechua orthography.

 Escudo_de_CuscoCuzco was the capital of Tahuantinsuyu (or Inca Empire). It was shaped like a Panther. The city had two sectors: the hurin and hanan, which were further divided to each encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Condesuyu (SW), and Collasuyu (SE). A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire. Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cuzco, but only in the quarter of Cuzco that corresponded to the quarter of the empire he had territory in. After Pachacuti, when an Inca died his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives, so each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own any home and the land his family needed to maintain it after his death. Andean Indians still abandon their homes and build new ones when they marry, even if no one remains in the house.

 According to Inca legend, the city was built by Supa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyu. But archaeological evidence points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. There was however a city plan, and two rivers were terraformed and channeled to outline the city.

 Many of the Inca walls were thought to have been lost until a 1950 earthquake devastated the city. The granite walls of Korikancha (the Sun Temple) were exposed, as well as many walls throughout the city. Many wanted to restore the buildings to their colonial splendor, but a contingent of Cuzco citizens wanted to retain the exposed walls. Eventually they won out and now tourists from around the world enjoy looking at these ruins within the living city.

 Many buildings constructed after the conquest are of Spanish influence with a mix of Inca architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas. Often, Spanish buildings are juxtaposed atop the massive stone walls built by the Inca. The major earthquake that hit Cuzco in 1950 badly destroyed the Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of Korikancha, but the city’s Inca architecture firmly withstood the earthquake. This was the second time that the Dominican Priory was destroyed, the first being in 1650 when another major earthquake wracked Cuzco. The Priory was completely destroyed in 1650 as well.

 Other nearby Inca sites are Pachacuti’s winter home Machu Picchu which can be reached by a lightly maintained Inca trail, the “fortress” at Ollantaytambo, and the “fortress” of Sacsayhuaman which is approximately two kilometers from Cuzco. Other less visited ruins include Inca Wasi, the highest of all Inca sites at 3,980 m (13,134 feet), Old Vilcabamba the capital of the Inca after the capture of Cuzco, the sculpture garden at Chulquipalta (aka Chuquipalta, Ñusta España, The White Rock, Yurak Rumi), as well as Huillca Raccay, Patallacta, Choquequirao and many others.

 The surrounding area, located in the Huatanay Valley, is strong in agriculture, including corn, barley, quinoa, tea and coffee, and gold mining.

How to go

By plane

The airport is at the edge of the city (taxi ride). There are daily internal flights to and from Lima, Arequipa and small jungle airstrips in the Amazon basin. The following airlines offer flights to/from Cuzco:

Amaszonas (La Paz, Bolivia)
LAN Perú (Arequipa, Juliaca, Lima, & Puerto Maldonado)
Peruvian Airlines (Lima)
Star Peru (Juliaca, Lima, & Puerto Maldonado)
Avianca Peru (formerly Taca) (Arequipa, Lima, & Puerto Maldonado)
Lan Peru has the most flights between Cuzco and Lima, followed by Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines and Taca. It is best to book the earlier flights to avoid weather delays and overbooking.

The closest major international airport is Lima. The cheapest one-way flights to Lima cost around US$110 (year 2012), while a short notice flight on either LAN or Taca will cost around $300. StarPeru and Peruvian Airlines generally have the cheapest flights. Frequently, bad weather conditions can cause flights to be canceled, often up to two days on end. If you are flying straight into Cuzco, beware of altitude sickness for the first couple of days.
With only 5 gates and a few off the main terminal this airport is fairly small but because it sees thousands of tourists a day, it has a good amount of facilities. There are a few restaurants before and after security and some shops too. Massage facilities and communication services are also available. There are a few ATMs in the check-in Area. If you have time, look across the parking lot for last-minute shopping.
Airport taxes as of June 2011 have been included in all national tickets.

Note that the market rate for a taxi from the Airport to the Plaza de Armas is around 10 soles, not 30 or more as the ‘official’ airport taxis may try to charge you. Only used marked taxi cabs and agree on the price to your destination before getting into the vehicle. Using unmarked taxis is not recommended.
There is no single “official” taxi company. Instead, people rent booths at the airport and put up an “official taxi” sign and you book with them. Then, they talk to one of the taxis out front on and have them take you.

Airport to Plaza de Armas by bus: Get out of the airport at your right, there is a bus stop. Ask the combis that stop there if they go to plaza de armas. It is not a very comfortable trip, very crowded but manageable and it took around 30 min. You can get off at the last stop of Av El Sol, which is very close to the Plaza de Armas. Nobody charged anything extra for the backpacks. It costs 0.70 soles.

Plaza de Armas to Airport: You can get the bus at Av El Sol close to the crossing with Ayacucho. Ask the street sellers about the combis to the airport. It seems like a very frequent as we didn’t wait for long. The journey is not a very comfortable trip, very crowded but manageable and it took around 30 min. It costs 0.70 soles and nothing extra for the backpacks. Tell the driver that you are going to the airport and you can get off right across the street from the main entrance.

By bus

The Terminal Terrestre is about 2.4km SW of the Centro Historico, a 20 minute walk down along Av. Sol to Micaeda Bastidas, which is also 3-4km west of the airport terminal. You can also take a taxi for a few soles (paid 8 S./ April 2014).

Buses are plentiful to and from other Peruvian and Bolivian cities like Lima (about 24 hr), Puno (6-8 hr, 25 soles), Arequipa (10 hr, 50 soles), Nazca (14-16 hr), Copacabana (9-12hr, 60 soles) and La Paz (12-15hr, 90 soles) but are quite long and slow, although the views can compensate. The main roads are mostly quite good, but some can be bad, making trips take longer than expected.
Also, make sure your bus has a bathroom or that it stops for bathroom breaks every couple of hours before you buy tickets. There are Puno-Cuzco buses that have/do neither, and that can mean a VERY long 6-8 hours.

Be very careful if arriving early in the morning. You would be approached by touts from hostels that can’t fill their rooms in other ways. They offer you nice looking folders from Hospedaje Harry but when you arrive it’s not as pretty. Problems with water (not enough to even flush the toilet), very cold inside. They refused to give us back the money we stupidly paid at arrival. It pays to book in advance or wait few hours and check a few different places by yourself. This city is full of accommodations at all price ranges.
Expreso Los Chankas, Pje Cáceres 150. One of the only companies to offer direct service from Ayacucho to Cusco. 55 soles for a 22 hr ride on a semi-cama bus. Buses at 6:30AM and 7PM.

Cruz del Sur offers a very comfortable “cruzero suite” service direct to/from Lima, with multiple departures daily. Tickets can be booked online as well as in agencies and hotels. Standard fares are around $60 USD, with promotional fares available if you book in advance. The service is comparable to flying on board a good airline with films, hot food, drinks, good toilets and even a bingo game. Note that Cruz del Sur buses arrive at the company’s own terminal, which is about 700 meters (10 minutes walk) from Terminal Terrestre. Taxis to the Plaza de Armas are around S/ 10 from the Cruz del Sur terminal.
An option to go from Lima, Paracas, Ica, Puno, Nazca or Huacachina is to take one of the Peru Hop buses. This service has brand new cama buses with movies in English and Spanish their passes allow you to hop on or hop off at any of these places. Peru Hop includes hotel/hostel pick-ups and drop-offs which is pretty neat from a safety/no taxi fare viewpoint.

By rail

Cuzco is connected to Machu Picchu and Puno by rail. Rail service was recently discontinued to Arequipa. This service is operated by PeruRail.

 

More hostels in Cuzco

 

 

 

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Nazca

 

The Nazca Lines

 The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 37 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the pampa (a large flat area of southern Peru). They were created during the Nazca_culture in the area, between 200 BC and 600 AD.

 The Lines were first spotted when commercial airlines began flying across the Peruvian desert in the 1920s. Passengers reported seeing ‘primitive landing strips’ on the ground below. The Lines were made by removing the iron-oxide coated pebbles which cover the surface of the desert. When the gravel is removed, they contrast with the light color underneath. In this way the lines were drawn as furrows of a lighter color. Off the Pampa, south of the Nasca Lines, archaeologists have now uncovered the lost city of the line-builders, Cahuachi. It was built nearly 2,000 years ago and mysteriously abandoned 500 years later.

 Toribio Mejia Xespe, a Peruvian doctor and anthropologist was the first scientist, in 1927, to show interest in what he called “great Incan ceremonial artifacts”.

 Swiss writer Erich von Däniken suggested in his 1968 book, “Chariots of the Gods”, that the lines were built by ancient astronauts as a landing field. But the soft clay soil and layer of brown and black rocks in the Nazca desert would seem an unsuitable site for a landing strip. Joe Nickell has reproduced one of the figures using technology available to the Nazca Indians of the time, and without aerial supervision.

 Residents of the local villages say the ancient Indians conducted rituals on these giant drawings to thank the gods, and to ensure that water would continue to flow from the Andes

How to go

There are frequent colectivos (small buses) to and from Ica. They leave when full, it takes 2-3 hr and cost 12 soles.

There are several direct overnight buses from Cuzco (14 hours) and Arequipa (9 hr). Delays can occur in the wet season. Prices vary between 60 and 170 soles.
Another option to go from Cusco, Lima, Paracas, Ica or Huacachina is to take one of the Peru Hop buses. This new service has brand new cama buses and allows you to hop on or hop off at any of these places. Peru Hop includes hotel/hostel pick-ups and drop-offs and also includes a short stop at the Nazca lines viewing tower free of charge.

There are also buses to Lima (Cruz del Sur and Oltursa buses go via Ica and Paracas) throughout the day and overnight, the journey takes about 6-8 hr.
Nazca is a small city that does not have a proper bus station. Most of the bus companies are situated on the northwest part of the city.

If you’re traveling in a small group (2-4 people), it’s fairly easy to arrange a one day all-inclusive side trip to Nazca from Lima with private transportation. One-day trips are generally paired with a stop in the Ballestas and include the airplane ride to see the lines. A private trip isn’t particularly cheap (running around 900 soles per person), but can be worth it if you really want to see the lines and don’t have a lot of time in Peru. One-day trips from Lima leave early (around 4:00 AM) and return late (around 10:00 PM).

 

 

 

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Chauchilla

 

Chauchilla cemetery

 Chauchilla an old cemetery from the Nasca Culture, located 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of the city of Nazca in Peru. The graves are actually adobe tombs and some are open for us to see. The mummies are in the fetal position. This represented leaving earth in the same way that they had entered it. They were in “sacks” which were tied at the neck, exposing their heads and they faced east, looking for the sunrise each day. Around them were pots of food and drink for the afterlife. Some of them are believed to be priests or shamans as they had never cut their hair. Their bleached white skulls had 2 to 3 meters hair attached. The tombs would be reopened when a family member died and there was a separate tomb for each generation,

The bodies are so remarkably preserved due mainly to the dry climate in the Peruvian Desert but the funeral rites were also a contributing factor. The bodies were clothed in embroidered cotton and then painted with a resin and kept in purpose-built tombs made from mud bricks. The resin is thought to have kept out insects and slowed bacteria trying to feed on the bodies.

The nearby site of Estaquería may provide clues to the remarkable preservation of the numerous bodies in these cemeteries. At that site, archeologists found wooden pillars initially thought to have been used for astronomical sightings. However, it is now believed that the posts were used to dry bodies in a mummification process. This may account for the high degree of preservation seen in thousand-year-old bodies which still have hair and the remains of soft tissue, such as skin.

 

 

 

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Lima

 

Lima

Lima is the capital and the largest city in Peru. It is situated in a valley fed by the Rimac river, in the desert coast of 88px-Coat_of_arms_of_Lima.svgthe country near its Pacific port of Callao. It has a total population of 7 605 742  hab. (2007 estimate), approximately one-third of which lives in the shanty town settlements around the city. The city is divided into 43 districts, which constitute the Lima Metropolitana (metropolitan Lima) area.

Lima Climate

It has a very humid climate, with a mild summer (temperature rarely goes above 31° celsius), a humid but mild winter (temperature never below 13°, but with 100% humidity) and no rain worth mentioning. As a result, the sky is almost always overcast, and it is only in summer that the sky clears.

How to go

By plane

Jorge Chavez International Airport (IATA: LIM, ICAO: SPIM) (also called Jorge Chavez Airport Lima-Callao). Flight Information – ☎ +51 1 511-6055, is in the harbour city Callao and within metropolitan Lima.
The airport is well connected with most cities in South America. There are regular flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Los Angeles, Newark, New York, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas in the US. There are daily flights from Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, Miami, Bogotá, Medellín, Quito, Santiago de Chile and Toronto.
Lima is the hub for many regional domestic flights and is served by LAN Peru, LC Busre, TACA Peru, and Star Peru.

Arrival

Arrival at the airport can be chaotic. Most flights from overseas arrive in clumps either early in the morning or very late at night, which means that getting through immigration and customs can be tremendously time consuming; the difference between arrival at the gate and exiting customs can range from 20-90 min.
The area immediately outside of customs is typically crowded, full of people waiting for arriving passengers. It’s not uncommon for entire families to show up to greet a returning family member and the crowd is further swelled by pre-booked car and taxi service drivers holding up signs with passengers’ names; in recent years, a large area where passengers can stand freely and scan the crowd to look for people and not be accosted has been cordoned off in front of customs exit.

Bus Miraflores to the Airport

Airport to Miraflores: Get out of the airport at your right, after the walking bridge, there is a bus stop. The bus has a blue stripe, it is very new and big. It says Miraflores on the side and it costs 1 sole. It is a comfortable trip that takes around 1h30min. You can get off at Av Jose Pardo, close to the Parque Central de Miraflores which is the main spot at the tourist area. Nobody charged anything extra for the backpacks.

Miraflores to Airport: You can get the bus at Av Jose Pardo close to the crossing with Av Grau. There are designated stops called Paradero. The bus is big with a blue stripe e it looks very new and it says, among other words, Faucett on the side (which is the avenue that gives access to the airport) . The journey is comfortable and not very crowded and it took around 1h30min. It costs 1 sole and nothing extra for the backpacks. Tell the driver that you are going to the airport and you can get off right across the street from the main entrance.

Airport transit shuttles

The airport is a 20-40 min drive from San Isidro or Miraflores. Some hostels and hotels offer free airport pickup; check with your hotel regarding this service. Don’t worry about standing outside the airport alone for this; it’s well-lit at night and security guards are prevalent.

Taxis

Be wary of the taxi drivers at the airport: if you need transportation at the airport you should avoid using the informal taxis outside of it that will accost you, and either hire it inside the customs reception area. Currently there are Green Taxi, CMV, and Mitsui Taxi Remisse, pay a premium to get a ride with them, or book taxi service ahead of time online with a reputable company where you can book your taxicab service online, you will have plenty taxicab companies and its members you chose from, it is safe and reliable and the best of all it is free to use, no charges or fee for using this great online tool. Its best to use a Certified Ground Transportation supplier so you can always be on the safe side. That being said, once you leave the grounds of the airport things get much cheaper rather rapidly and a trip to Miraflores shouldn’t cost you any more than S/.25 soles but it is obviously not as safe and secure.

Express airport bus

There is also an Express bus to Centro and Miraflores leaving from the Arrival hall; ask at the airport information desk.

Car rentals

Car rental is available at the airport via Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, and National, but unless you have experience driving in extremely challenging environments you should avoid driving yourself in Lima. If you’re set on driving yourself, take cabs for a day or so and see what navigating Lima traffic is like before making that decision.

Hostels in Lima

hostel_eng

 

All pictures by the author mebes3t

 

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Peru

Peru

Peru is a country in South America, situated on the western side of that continent, facing the South Pacific Ocean and straddling part of the Andes mountain range that runs the length of South America. Peru is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. Peru is a country that has a diversity and wealth not common in the world. The main attractions are their archaeological patrimony of pre-Columbian cultures and the hub of the Inca’s empire, their gastronomy, their colonial architecture (it has imposing colonial constructions) and their natural resources (a paradise for ecological tourism).

Pe-flagAlthough Peru has rich natural resources and many great places to visit, the poverty scale reaches 25.8% of the population. The rich, consisting mostly of a Hispanic (or “Criollo”) elite, live in the cities. Nevertheless, most Peruvians are great nationalists and love their country with pride (largely stemming from Peru’s history as the hub of both the Inca empire and Spain’s South American empire). Also, many Peruvians separate the state of Peru and its government in their minds. Many of them distrust their government and police, and people are used to fighting corruption and embezzlement scandals, as in many countries.

The Peruvian economy is healthy and quite strong, however inequality is still common. It is indebted and dependent on industrial nations, especially China, Russia and United States. The US foreign policy decisions in recent years has contributed to a widely held negative view about the US government in Peru, but not against individual citizens.

Map

Visas

Tourists from North America, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the European Union (and many others, check with the nearest Peruvian Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] for most updated information, although in Spanish) receive a visa upon arrival for up to 183 days.
When entering the country, you need to pass the immigration office (inmigración). There you get a stamp in your passport that states the number of days you are allowed to stay (usually 183 days). You can no longer get an extension, so make sure that you ask for the amount of time you think you’ll need. When those 183 days are up and you would like to stay for longer, you can either cross the border to a neighbouring country (Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia or Chile) and return the next day and obtain another 183 days or simply overstay and pay the fine when you exit. The overstay fine is only USD 1 per day overage, so if you stay 30 days longer it’s USD 30. Many people do this, since it’s much cheaper than leaving the country and returning.
You will receive an extra official paper to be kept in the passport (make sure you don’t lose it!). When leaving, you need to visit the emigration office (migracion), where you get the exit stamp. Imigracion and migracion are found on all border crossing-points. Travelling to and from neighbouring countries by land is no problem.

How to go

By plane

The capital city of Lima has the Jorge Chávez International Airport with frequent flights all over the world. Main airlines are American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Lan, Lan Peru, United, Iberia, Copa, Taca and others. There are non-stop flights to Lima from Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, New York City, and San Francisco in the United States. There is also a non-stop flight to Toronto, Canada with Air Canada. There are five different airlines that offer non-stop service to Europe. In the future there may be non-stop flights from Oceania or Asia but for now travellers usually connect through Los Angeles (non-US citizens have to pass immigration even for transfer, consuming 1-2 hours – so ensure your stop-over is long enough!) or through Santiago de Chile.
There is an internal flight tax, around USD6, same conditions as the international one.
When booking domestic flights, there are several Peruvian travel agencies that can get you your plane tickets for the “Peruvian price” for a fee of about USD20, you’ll notice that the prices can vary by several hundred dollars for the SAME flights when looking at LAN’s Peruvian site and the LAN.com site. You’ll find that if you try to book the cheaper flights from the Peruvian site, they won’t accept payment from American bank accounts (this is why you do it through a Peruvian travel agency).

The city of Iquitos has flights to Leticia, Colombia with AviaSelva. They have a USD10 departure tax.

From Ecuador

Although Ecuador borders Peru, it is hard to find cheap flights connecting anything but the capitals. In particular, flying from Ecuador to Iquitos is not possible directly, nor can you travel directly from other large towns across the border.

By boat

The city of Iquitos in the Amazonas region has connections by boat to Leticia in Colombia and Tabatinga in Brazil (about 10 hours).

Hostels in Peru

Aguas Calientes    Arequipa    Cabanaconde    Caral    Chachapoyas    Chanchamayo    Chiclayo    Colan    Colca Canyon Cotahuasi    Cusco    Huacachina    Huancayo    Huanchaco    Huaraz     Huarmey    Ica    Iquitos    Isla Uros    Juliaca Lamas    Lima    Lobitos    Los Organos    Machu Picchu    Madre de Dios    Mancora    Nazca    Ollantaytambo    Paracas    Pilcopata    Pisac    Pisco    Piura    Puerto Malabrigo Chicama    Puerto Maldonado    Puno    Punta Hermosa    Tacna    Tarapoto    Tarma    Trujillo    Tumbes    Urubamba    Valle Sagrado Zorritos

 

 

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