Peru is a rich and vibrant country in South America and has a lot to offer travellers with a taste for adventure, great food, culture and ancient history.
Gerhardt and Zaritha van Wyngaardt, from Johannesburg in South Africa, recently took on an experiential journey through Peru.
By the pictures they shared on their social media pages, one can easily tell that they truly had an authentic experience.
Their highlights include cultural tours, amazon adventures in the rainforest, visiting ancient Inca cities, a day on Lake Titicaca and loads of opportunities to participate in Peru’s national sport – sip and taste.
In Peru one simply does not start or end the day without a Pisco sour, and as a visitor, forget about watching your weight, because Peruvian food is 100% completely irresistible.
Be prepared to food-binge for gold.
On the other hand, it is possible for one to enjoy a guilt-free Peruvian experience. One can easily stay fit by exploring the country’s top adventure destinations. These destinations and adventures are based on Gerhardt and Zaritha’s experience.
Here are 6 reasons why Peru is the obvious choice for experiential travel:
1. Lima is a cultural treasure trove.
Lima is the capital of Peru and is a must for visiting ancient Incan archaeological sites, Spanish colonial cathedrals and palaces with important collections of pre-Colombian art.
Barranco is considered as the most romantic and bohemian district in Lima. It is the home and working place of many of Peru’s leading artists, musicians, designers and photographers.
Lima’s beautiful beachfront areas with awesome hotels are perfect for shopping and wait for it… dining.
A huge thank you to the wonderful Sarmiento family for hosting and welcoming Zaritha and Gerhardt into their home in Lima. The Sarmiento family also spoiled them to an evening of glitz and glamour at the Club Nacional – the oldest “members only” gentlemen’s club in Peru.
2. Discover ancient ruins and explore Inca traditions around Cusco.
Cusco is perfect for spending 2-3 days acclimatising before trekking to Macchu Pichu. It is situated at 3,399 metres above sea level, so, do take things easy once here. Coca leaves are highly recommended for relief from the high altitude.
Cusco used to be the capital of the Inca empire and has a rich and intriguing past. Therefore, after acclimatising, embark on a hike or drive to the surrounding ruins of Sacsahuaman and Qenko for a great view over the city.
Sacred Valley, on the outskirts of Cusco, offers travellers an exclusive learning experience on pre-Inca culture and traditions (hint: alien skulls and stone towers).
3. Trek, walk, hike or drive to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu, which is often referred to as the Wonderful Inca City, is an amazing feat of ancient Inca engineering and architecture with a jaw-dropping landscape.
It’s hard to believe that this city was built with such accuracy around 1450. After a century the classic Inca style city with its polished dry-stone walls was left abandoned by the Incas due to the Spanish invasion.
30% of Machu Picchu had been restored in 1976. The city was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
A world-wide internet poll in 2007 voted Machu Picchu one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Macchu Picchu is situated in the Cusco region, 80km north west from Cuzco – a definite must for adventurers in search of spiritual and vibrant destinations.
4. Visit the reed people of Puno on Lake Titicaca.
Puno is a colourful city in Southern Peru on Lake Titicaca.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and is renowned for its floating islands (islands constructed from many layers of totora reeds).
The Floating Islands are inhabited by Uros, indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia who have fled from the Incas. The Uros are also referred to as the “reed people.” They are extremely hard working, welcoming and warm.
Don’t forget to bring your camera to the Floating Islands as there are many opportunities for taking colourful pictures – from the boats, to décor, to traditional outfits – perfect for spicing up your Instagram gallery.
5. Eat, drink and be merry in Arequipa.
Arequipa is the largest city of the Arequipa region in Peru. This city, filled with its historic heritage, beautiful landscapes and cultural sites is Peru’s second most commercialised and populous city. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is anchored by the Plaza de Armes.
During their stay, Gerhardt and Zaritha had an opportunity to view an active volcano (Arequipa is framed by three volcanos).
The La Mansion del Fundador, the Cathedral of the Arequipa Museum, Monasterio de la Recoleta and the Museo de Arte Virrenial Santa Teresa are great for exploring as Arequipa’s Catholic churches are among the most beautiful buildings preserved.
The Basilica Cathedral with its astonishing architecture houses a museum displaying religious objects and artwork.
Once again, our travel buddies made the best of their time in Arequipa by exploring street food markets, eating doughnuts made from sweet potato, squash flour and some aniseed pips.
They ended their stay in Arequipa with mulled wine and of course, Pisco sours. As one does!
6. The Amazon Rainforest is the ultimate experiential travel fix for nature junkies.
The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is famed for its biodiversity, including the mighty Amazon river.
The forest itself crosses 9 nations and the southern portion (Tambopata region) is mainly contained by Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.
Travelling through the Amazon is a serious bucket-list item for many experiential travellers.
Gerhardt and Zaritha kickstarted their Amazon journey in the Madre de Dios region in south-east Peru. Madre de Dios is also referred to as the gateway to the southern Amazon jungle.
Gerhardt and Zaritha’s days were filled with canoeing, hiking, canopy trails and guided night walk adventures. They also came across many interesting plant and insect species. Did you know that the Rainforest houses as many as 2.5 million species of insects?
During one of their night-walks they discovered that tarantulas are all over the forest – wherever there is a hole or a tree, be sure, there is a nest. Tarantula babies are about 4 x the size of a normal house-spider. Now, just imagine the size of the mother!
Although these scary-hairies may come across as intimidating and very dangerous, they are completely harmless and not poisonous at all. Apparently, the bite of a tarantula can be compared to the sting of a bee.
They also encountered many species of butterflies and learned that red mushrooms contain penicillin, and can be used for medical purposes. Other weird and wonderful creepy-crawlies encountered on their journey include cicadas, black bees, frogs, giant ants and many, many more.
Gerhardt and Zaritha particularly enjoyed their stay at the beautiful, 5-star-deluxe, Inkaterra Lodge.
“The service was amazing and the staff, super-friendly,” says Zaritha.
“What a magnificent and diverse country – an amazing experience. I am humbled and blown away.”
– Zaritha van Wyngaardt
“What a wonderful experience! I really loved the diverse range of experiences that Peru has to offer – whether it’s history, culture, nature, adventure, extreme sport – it has it all.
The people are really friendly and extremely accommodating. And the best of all is the food culture, – really loved the food – from street food to Chinese Peruvian cuisine, and everything in between.
Overall a fantastic trip – but beware, the high altitude in some of the areas can really spoil your day.”
– Gerhardt van Wyngaardt
Should you be interested in more info about Peru or an experience similar to this one, send Zaritha an email at email@example.com.
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Zaritha van Wyngaardt is passsionate about traveling and offers individuals from all walks of life the opportunity to travel to vibrant and authentic destinations.
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Written by Deidré Schoeman