Peru shares its borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile and has access to the Pacific Ocean on the western side of the country. There are few places where one can experience such a wide range of climate and geographic features. Peru boasts a remarkable environmental diversity that includes 56 nature reserves which are home to more than 400 species of mammals, 1700 types of birds and more than 50,000 categories of plants.
The country is divided into three regions: the coast, the Andes Mountains and the Amazon basin. The coastline is where over half of the population is concentrated. The mountains are where travelers can immerse themselves in the history of the Incan culture. The Amazon region makes up sixty percent of the country, but is sparsely inhabited except for the native tribes who lead traditional lifestyles.
Lima is a major city with a variety of cultural, social, and recreational attractions, as well as unique shopping and fine dining opportunities. A dramatic coastline offers sun lovers the choice for leisure or surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving. Not far from Lima sightseers might want to visit the islands and nature reserve of Parancas. Depending on the season, adrenalin fans can try white water rafting on the Chillon River in Lunahuana. Even if it's not the right season for rafting, horseback riding and hiking opportunities abound in this area.
The trail to the remarkable ruins of Machu Picchu begins in the town of Cusco approximately 40 miles away from the remnants of the mysterious Incan empire. The town itself is worth seeing for its colonial architecture, though visitors should give themselves a chance to adjust to the high altitude before setting off to explore.
Lake Titicaca was also considered sacred by the Incas since the first Incan king was purportedly born here. Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, today tourists worship the largest lake in South America sitting 12,500 feet above sea level. There are Indian communities that still make their living off the lake's resources fishing and catching birds. Puno, a lakeside town, is considered the folk capital of the area because of its music and over 300 different dances.
Arequipa, the second largest city in the country, is located in the south. It's known as the 'White City' because its colonial buildings were made out of sillar, a type of white volcanic stone. Another unusual feature of the city is its proximity to three volcanoes and the biggest convent in the world. The Convent of Santa Catalina housed cloistered nuns for over 400 years and is now open to the public. There are additional churches and cathedrals worth a visit. From Arequipa a visit can be made to Colca Canyon, renowned for its condors.
Most visited cities: Lima, Cuzco, Nazca, Arequipa