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First time to Peru | 5 must-visits

Peru is on the list of many people bucketlist. Now that long-distance travel is again in the spotlight, that discovery in Peru is also getting closer and closer. The land of mighty Andean peaks of 6.000m or more, but also tropical rainforest, vast deserts, beaches and perfect surfing locations on the Pacific Ocean. Culture, nature, world heritage, traditions, gastronomy and all those striking colors; the country has such a multitude of highlights that you don't know where to start. Of course everyone has their own preference, but there are places and locations that you simply don't want to miss during your first visit to Peru. Five must-visits in a row.

Also read: Itinerary through Peru in 2, 3, or 4 weeks | Comprehensive guide

View at Machupicchu(©YayoLopez/PROMPERÚ).

Plan your holiday to Peru here

1. Machupicchu: off to the sacred Inca city

Who says Peru, says Machupicchu. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the Seven Wonders of the World for a reason. The first look at Machupicchu is one to remember. Deep in the Andes Mountains, the archaeological site of this ancient Inca city sits atop a mountaintop. Whether you arrive after the four-day Inca Trail or a short walk from the entrance, when you first look out over the complex, everyone will be impressed. To discover as much of the ancient Inca city as possible, a guide is recommended. Even the trip to Machupicchu is an experience. It is about a 3 hour journey from the provincial capital Cusco, a significant part of which can only be covered by train. Unless you choose one of the multi-day hikes. Including the Inca Trail or the Salkantay trek. The latter leads, among other things, past the breathtaking turquoise-colored glacial lake Humantay Lake at 4.200 m altitude. You can also visit this lake in a day hike. Also put Cusco on your list, a beautiful city brimming with colonial heritage built on foundations laid by the Incas.

2. Huacachina: a special oasis in the desertn

Set amid sand dunes, just 8 kilometers from the city of Ica, there is a green lagoon surrounded by palm trees – an oasis as it should be. huacachina. A photogenic image in the middle of the desert. Especially at sunrise or sunset, the high sand dunes in yellow-orange hues complete the picture. Not too much further you will also find the ancient mystical Nasca lines, of which we are still groping in the dark for what purpose they were made. What is certain is that they date from the Nazca culture, 100-500 years before the era.

Also read: 7x special overnight stays in Peru in Ecolodges + spectacular train journey

Fascinating image, the oasis Huacachina(©Gihan Tubbeh/PROMPERÚ)

3. Paracas National Reserve

Few countries have such diverse landscapes as Peru. Traveling you go from the high Andes mountains to the jungle, along the coast and finally: into the desert. There you will find the Paracas National Park along the coast, which is particularly easy to visit from the water. The Paracas National Reserve is home to a unique flora and fauna, including the iconic Ballestas Islands. A protected area where you can observe sea lions, large groups of Humboldt penguins and hundreds of different sea birds such as pelicans in their own habitat. And all this at a 4-hour drive from the capital Lima and, moreover, close to Ica.

You can spot penguins, pelicans and many other seabirds in Paracas National Reserve (©ManuelMedir/PROMPERÚ)

4. Arequipa: the 'White City'

Arequipa is also known as the 'White City', thanks to the white volcanic rock used to build much of the historic downtown. Monastic complexes, churches, cathedrals and other beautiful facades are real eye-catchers in the old town. The city is surrounded by mountains, including several volcanoes, such as Misti. Arequipa was once founded at the foot of this volcano.

While you're there, take a trip to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, where you can also spot the mighty Andean Condor. With a wingspan of more than 4 meters, it is the largest bird in the world.

Beautiful facades, monastic complexes and cathedrals in Arequipa, the White City (Renzo Tasso/PROMPERÚ)

5. Lake Titicaca: traditional and colorful

From the White City to the colorful clothing and rich traditions around Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world in southern Peru. At an altitude of 3.800 meters you will sail to the floating islands of the Uros inhabitants. The striking boats of the Uros, sometimes richly decorated, are also made of reed. But there are more special islands in Lake Titicaca. Such as Taquile, which is known for the beautiful weaving techniques of the local population. If you get the chance to sleep on one of the islands, grab it. Not only to learn more about the life of the locals, but also to admire the radiant starry sky above you.

Lake Titicaca ©EduardoCayo/PROMPERÚ)

Also read: 20 Must Sees in South America | Feed for your Bucket List ✔️

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