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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Overview of Peru for Travelers





Peru is located on the upper west coast of South America. If you are considering Peru as a travel destination, following is an overview of the country.

Historically, Peru was the location of the dominant early cultures in South America. The city of Caral has pyramid remains dated to between 2000 and 2600 BC, which may make it the oldest city in the world. Peru is also the home of the Nazca Lines, the football field size drawings in the ground that are only apparent from the air.

The Incas are a mysterious civilization, but one that was clearly dominant during its time. The Incas were based in modern day Peru. Although it was not a major city, Machu Picchu is the best known archeological remains of the Incas. It was discovered in 1911.

The Spanish defeated the Inca Empire in 1533, who remained in control for nearly 300 years. In 1821, Peru declared independence, but wasn’t able to defeat the Spanish until 1824. In fact, Peru was the last Spanish colony in South America.

Peru has seen periods of relative stability and near civil war since gaining its independence. In the late 20th century, conflicts with the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru rebel groups resulted in as many as 70,000 people being killed. Peru has moved beyond such conflicts and is experiencing a period of strong stability and economic growth. In a stunning development for patriarchal South America, Peru elected Beatriz Merino as the first female prime minister on the continent in 2003.

Peru is an interesting climatic country because it contains stunning mountains, flat plains and over 1,500 miles of beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Figuring out what to take is entirely dependent on the part of the country you will visit. Travel to Lake Titicaca, one of the highest lakes in the world, and you will need to dress for warmth. Visit the dry desert in the east of the country, and you will be dressing just the opposite.

Modern Peru has a total population of 28 million people. Roman Catholic is the dominant language. The literacy rate is roughly 88 percent. After years of conflict, the country has suffered economically to the point that over 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. With stability returning, this situation is expected to improve.

Peru is one of the hottest travel destinations in South America. With the end of armed conflict, the chance to see Inca ruins should not be missed.



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Lima


Lima is the capital of Peru and its largest city. It was built upon a valley surrounded by an extremely arid desert. In the summer, the weather is usually beautiful, very warm and sunny, sometimes with rains around January. In the winter, the city is overcast and rainy for days at a time. The rain in the wintertime doesn't fall hard, but it gets everything wet. Temperature also falls to around 45-55 F (7-12 C), which seems chillier when combined with the general dampness.

Lima is a great place to try the wonderful Peruvian cuisine, which has a huge variety of ingredients from coast, mountain and Amazon regions. The cold sea current in front of Peru's large coast makes the sea very rich in fish and seafood, which have a great taste due to the special plankton they eat. Fish and seafood restaurants are therefore worth the time, and not expensive.



Cusco


Cuzco, located at 11,200 ft (3,400 m) above sea level in the Southern Sierras is a fascinating city that was the capital of the Inca Empire. It is one of Peru's most visited cities as it is the largest and most comfortable city from which tourists can begin visits to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and other Inca sites in the region.

Cuzco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square, while the modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst.

The city is surrounded by a number of ruins, the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman, the site of the 1536 battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca.

Nowadays, Cuzco is known for its indigenous population--often seen on the streets in traditional clothing--and its substantial tourist-fueled night life.



Taking The Train From Cusco To Machu Picchu



If you are the comfortable-type, train transport is the best option for travelling from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The other common alternative to reach the Lost City of the Incas, the strenuous Inca Trail, involves 3 days of hard trekking through a beautiful yet arduous landscape. And taking a helicopter is most probably not an option, both because it’s unaffordable and it misses the beautiful Andean scenery that comes with the land journey.

Besides the strenuous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which usually takes 3 days of hard trekking through a beautiful yet arduous landscape, train transport is the best option to travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Train transport to Machu Picchu is indeed the best alternative for the trekking-adverse: not better nor worse, just different. Still charming and attractive, yet much more comfortable.

Rail services to Machu Picchu, Peru’s most important tourist site, are managed by Peru Rail, a company of the Orient Express group (which also runs the exclusive Monasterio Hotel in Cusco and Miraflores Park Plaza hotel in Lima). Trains depart from the San Pedro station in Cusco (close to the Huanchac market), and arrive at Machu Picchu city (Aguas Calientes) some 3 hours and 40 minutes later.

The spectacular journey begins at Cusco with a series of switchbacks, or zig-zags, as they are know locally, that last for half-hour: the trains ascends the Picchu mountain, up to the city’s highest point (El Arco or The Arch) and out of Cusco into the village of Poroy.

The train then descends into the Sacred Valley and the foothills of the Andes, along the Urubamba River, passing through a beautiful landscape packed with typical Andean crops and grasslands, herds of llamas, and colourful villages. Many old Inca buildings and archaeological sites can be seen along the journey, in particular the magnificent Wi


Machu Picchu



Located 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco on the crest of the mountain, Machu Picchu (see map) is about 8,040 ft (2,450 m) above mean sea level. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America.

One of the most visited sites in the world today by travelers is Machu Picchu.  It is approximately 724 miles (1,170 km) away from Lima, the Peruvian capital. A typical trip by land on a bus takes about 20 hours. One could also take a flight and arrive there in a heartbeat of one hour. The starting point usually begins in Lima.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. The construction of Machu Picchu appears to date from the period of the two great Incas, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438-71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472-93).  It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest.

The ruins sit surrounded by the Andes Mountains. The name Machu Picchu literally means “old peak”, translated from the Quechua language. It was discovered by Hiram Bingham on July 24, 1911 while he was in charge of a Yale University expedition. It was in this landscape that the Incas built Machu Picchu at the end of the fourteenth century.

The climate is mild, warm and damp. It has a year round average temperature of 55F (13C) during the day. There are typically two seasons, a rainy season which lasts from November to March and dry season, which lasts from April to October. Most travelers prefer to travel to the site during the dry season.

The Language


Peruvian Spanish, particularly in the Sierra and jungle, is pronounced much less clearly than European Spanish and Spanish from other Latin American countries, especially Mexico, Colombia and Chile. People don't tend to speak too fast, although in coastal areas, especially Lima, people speak considerably faster than in other areas, and they also use slang quite liberally. On the whole, Peru is a good and cheap place to embark on Spanish courses (once you are there).

Some slang terms:

chévere, bacán, cool.

chela (Cerveza), a beer.

Me da cólera, Me llega, it ticks me off.

Ya, right, sure (sometimes "ok" or "yup").

Loco ,crazy person.Usually said in a friendly manner, also means "mate, friend, buddie"

Tombo, is cop (and cops don't like hearing it).

Chibolo(a), a kid.

Bamba fake, counterfeit goods & products

Money is often refered to as plata (as in silver). Mucha plata = too much money ("that's expensive!").

Some slang terms come from Quechua:

Que piña: means 'what bad luck' even though 'piña' in Quechua means 'coraje' or in English 'infuriating'.

Tengo una yaya: means 'I'm injured'. In quechua 'yaya' means injury. And 'yawar' means blood.





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