|Many great civilizations that left their mark in architecture, ceramics, textiles and carvings make Peru a fascinating and diverse country. These ancient cultures remain alive in the people of today through their traditions, language, music and dances.
The diverse and dramatic geography that combines the natural regions of the coast, the highlands, reaching areas above 6768 m/ 22 004 ft. and the rainforest region with its ecological mega-diversity makes Peru an exceptional and unique place. Here you can find 84 of the worldwide recognized 104 global climates.
If you want to visit Cusco, the navel of the Inca world with its access to the fascinating ruins of Machu Picchu, hike one of the many Trails over the extensive street system the Incas have left, explore abandoned archeological sites in remote areas, visit the highest navigable lake in the world: Lake Titicaca or discover the mysteries of the dense rainforest region, Peru has something to gather to every ones taste. Choose your own adventure and life the experience of a lifetime in Peru.
|Nobody can imagine how diverse this country is, Just to know that Peru is one of 7 mega diverse countries on earth. Each of Peru’s geographical zones has its own climate.
The Coast -11 % of the country: Summer; December-April with temperatures from 25-35 C°, warm and dry. These are the best months for swimming. Winter; May-November when temperatures drop a bit and it is cloudy in the Lima area. The northern beaches are sunny all year long.
The Sierra -28.1 % of the country: Dry Season; April-October, warm and dry during the day with temperatures around 20-25 C°, cold and dry at night, often below freezing. Rainy Season; November-April, dry and clear most mornings, some rainfall in the afternoon, with a small temperature drop (18 C°) and not much difference at night (15 C°).
The Rainforest -60.9 % of the country: Dry Season; April-October with temperatures up to 35 C°. Cold fronts from the South Atlantic (friajes) are characteristic of the dry season and temperatures may drop to 15 C° during the day and 13 C° at night.
Rainy Season; November-April with heavy rainfalls at any time, humid and hot. During the wet season, it only rains for a few hours at a time, which is not enough to spoil your trip, but enough to make some roads virtually impassable.
Peru can be visited all year long even though its high season is from May to November, which is the best time for hiking the Inca Trail or trekking and climbing elsewhere in the country. At this time the days are generally clear and sunny, though nights can be very cold at high altitude.
|Animal & Plant Life|
|The Pacific Ocean is one of the richest in the world with Orca and Humpback whales, dolphins and sea lions.
Humboldt Penguin, Guanay Cormorant and Inca Tern among other million birds.
The Coast is one of the world’s most arid regions. A sand strip only irrigated by the Andean streams that flush down enough nutrients to create some oases where different bird species such as: Chilean Flamingo, Cinnamon teal, Pied-Billed Grebe, Peruvian Pelican, Petrels, Peruvian , Nazca and Blue footed Booby. In the coastal areas we find fruit trees, Cotton, Asparagus, Paprika, and Corn.
The Andes, with its baroque geography offers a parade of beautiful snow covered mountains, waterfalls, lakes, canyons, plateaus, valleys and also cloud forest. In the highlands, the vegetation tends to be bushy, with native trees and shrubs such as willow, walnut, chachacomas, molles and retamas, though high up in the mountains, it is very sparse, with only puna grass or ichu. In some areas we find the highest tropical forests in the world: The Polylepis (Queuñas) forests are inhabited by pumas, foxes, deer, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and chinchillas.
Birds: Condors, Black-chested Buzzard Eagles, Giant hummingbirds, Marvelous Spatuletail, Silvery Grebe, Andean goose.
The Rainforest covers the biggest extension of Peruvian territory, with its ecological diversity considered one of the last lungs of the world. The flora and fauna is composed of thousands of tree types, medicinal plants and animals including: Jaguar, Sloths, Anteaters, Monkeys, Giant river Otters, Caimans, Snakes, piranhas, an incredible variety of birds, like the Amazonian Royal fly-catcher, Andean Guan, Versicolored Barbet, Golden-Headed Quetzal, Emerald Toucanet, Cock of the Rock, Masked Fruit eater, Rufus-crested Coquette, Booted Racket-Tail, Red and Green Macaw, Blue and Yellow Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, among other hundreds. Thousands of insects that astonish biologists from all over the world.
Approximate number of species in Perú
|30 135 875 million (June 2012) as many as 9 million live in the greater Lima area. The highest density is in the coastal areas (55% of the total). Close to 45% of Peru’s population are Native Americans, some descendants of the Incas and Quechuas who established a great civilization in the XV century. Practically 37% of the population are mestizos, of mixed Spanish and Andean roots. 15% are direct descendants of the Spanish and the rest are Japanese, Chinese and Afro-American. 75% of the population lives in urban areas.
|Languaje & Religion|
|Spanish and Quechua are the official languages of the country but Aymara and other dialects are also spoken. 90% of Peruvians are Catholics and the rest are Protestants and other religious followings.
|The ancient Peruvians left us one of the richest cultures in all of South America. The Spanish later brought their language, religion and new laws, superseding the Inca civilization. Nowadays we have a strange fusion of Inca mixed with Spanish culture. The Andean culture remains strong through language, music, dance and tradition.
The Quechua and Aymara people that live very high up in the mountains often do not speak Spanish and maintain many of their original customs and traditions.
The coastal inhabitants tend to live a modern life style compared with the highlands and jungle areas.
The Loreto department represents 29% of the Peruvian territory. It is home to the national reserve of Pacaya-Samiria, one of the largest natural reserves of the country that lodges a great diversity of species of flora and fauna like the jaguar, pink river dolphin, anaconda, river wolf, macaw, black alligator, etc. There are many native tribes like the Boras, Aguarunas and others that can be visited in their traditional villages. It is also the confluence of the main streams giving birth to the mighty Amazon River with a volume of more than 50% of the drinkable water on earth. During the second half of the 19th century, the capital Iquitos experienced an economic boom linked to rubber exploitation in the area.
San Martin was the first metropolis from where the Spanish organized expeditions into the rainforest in search of El Dorado and offers many natural attractions like waterfalls, lakes and tributary rivers of the Amazon. It holds10% of the world’s total population of orchids and is a fantastic place for bird watching. The different ethnical groups like the Lamas still practice some of their ancestral traditions.
The department of Ancash is home to the spectacular Cordillera Blanca with some of the highest mountains in South America and the largest concentration of glaciers found in the world’s tropical zone. With its jeweled lakes and snowy mountain peaks, it attracts mountaineers and hikers in their thousands and offers an infinite range of trekking and climbing routes. The National park Huascaran includes the entire Cordillera Blanca above 4’000 mt/13’200 ft., with an area of 3’400 sq. km and is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. In Ancash we also find one of Peru’s most important pre-Inca sites: The fascinating temple of Chavin de Huantar (1000 BC) designated by UNESCO a World heritage trust site.
Since 1535, Lima was the center of the Spanish presence in South America. As the first capital of the Government of Nueva Castilla, it was named Ciudad de Reyes – City of Kings – and the streets, squares and colonial houses in downtown Lima still show the pomp and luxury of the viceroyalty period. The earthquake of 1746 destroyed most colonial buildings and ended its pre-eminence. Nowadays, Lima is the starting point for any visit in Peru and has a good number of museums where pieces from pre-Inca and Inca cultures are preserved such as paintings, sculptures and diverse Spanish colonial and republican art objects. In summer (December-April) the city’s beaches get very crowded and lots of activities are organized.
The desert south of Lima is home to the enigmatic Nazca Lines, mammoth geometric and zoomorphic designs etched onto the desert floor by pre-Inca cultures. Another attraction are the Ballestas Islands, where the meeting of the warm El Niño ocean current with the cold Humboldt current has created the world’s most fertile seas – rich in marine fauna. Ica is a city with a large tradition linked to the grapes. The Pisco (grape brandy) –who has international prestige because of its body and bouquet – was born there. Since the time of the great haciendas, vintage season is very important in the region.
Surrounded by volcanoes and desert, the city of Arequipa lies in a fertile, irrigated valley between the Andes and Peru’s Pacific coast. The city has fine Spanish buildings and many old and interesting churches built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic material almost exclusively used in the construction of Arequipa. Known as “The City of Eternal Spring”, Arequipa receives less than 150mm of annual rainfall and the sun shines all year round. The close by canyons of Colca and Cotahuasi can be reached easily from Arequipa. At more than 3’400 meters deep (11’220 ft.), they are considered the deepest canyons in the world, where condors rise above ancient Inca terracing and the whitewashed colonial churches of picturesque villages.
Puno is rich in history and local indigenous culture. Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in the tropics and the highest navigable lake in the world, attracted the first human settlers thousands of years ago with its fertile shores, green islands and bountiful waters. The countless archaeological sites scattered across the region are testament to this great history. Here you can wander through traditional villages where Spanish is a second language and where ancient myths and beliefs still hold true.
The former political and religious capital of the Incas: Qosqo (the “Navel of the Earth”), once the hub of the greatest empire ever seen in the Americas. Today, colonial churches, monasteries and extensive pre-Columbian ruins are interspersed with countless hotels, bars and restaurants and almost every central street has remains of Inca walls, arches and doorways. With uncountable ruins in the neighborhood to explore, infinite trekking routes like the famous Inca Trail to Machupicchu, Mt. Salkantay, the remote areas of Choquequirao and Vilcabamba and of course its access to the most important archaeological site in South America: The enigmatic ruins of Machu Picchu, Cusco has a wide range of attractions for every ones tastes and still is the center of the Incan world.
Madre de Dios
The Madre de Dios department is home to the southeastern jungle of Peru and contains the Manu National park (2 million. ha), the Tambopata National Reserve (255’000 ha) and the Bahauja-Sonene National park (1, 1 million. ha). This region inhabits some of the most important flora and fauna on earth and offers an uncompared bio-diversity of life forms; Only the Manu National park holds over 1’000 species of birds and covers an altitudinal range from 200 to 4’100 mt/ 660-13’530 ft. Some of the rare species living in the forest are jaguar, puma, ocelot and tapir and there are howler monkeys, macaws and the giant harpy eagle to be found. Some former river channels have become isolated oxbow lakes, fostering black caimans and giant river otters.
|6. January||Bajada de Reyes (The visit of the Magi)||(Cusco - Ollantaytambo)|
|The festivities coincide with the installment of the new sponsor or varayoc. The authority is symbolically handed over with a silver-tipped staff. In the procession there are 2 images carried: The Christ Child and San Isidro the farmer. In the afternoon there is a bullfight.
|1.-10. February||La Virgen de la Candelaria (The Virgin of the Candelaria)||(Puno)|
|One of the most important celebrations in Peruvian religious and musical folklore in honor of the holy Virgin of the Candelaria with the Central Day on February 2nd. Some 60 groups, from around the department of Puno parade and perform dances with showy costumes, a dazzling show of hilarity, beauty, enthusiasm and color.
|February||Festivales Carnavalescos (Carnaval)||(Acora, Cusco)|
|Acora: This Aymara Native Dance Contest is held in Acora, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, some 35 kms south of the city of Puno. Acora has a strong cultural tradition and its dances display a marked agricultural feeling, with references to love and rejoicing, and stressing the intimate relationship between the land, animals and natural phenomena.
Cusco: Festivities during the month of February also called Pukllay or Game in Quechua. The Carnival starts with the characteristic Thursday of the Godfathers, where the joy is manifested through games with flowers, paint and water with the participation of locals and foreigners.
|March-April||Semana Santa (Holy Week)||(Ayacucho, Cusco)|
|Ayacucho: Ayacucho's celebration of this festivity, in March or April (according to the dates of the religious calendar), attains a splendor that is unsurpassed. Few towns in the world celebrate Holy Week with the pomp and contemplation displayed in this important Andean City. During one week there are lots of processions. One of the most stirring celebrations takes place on the Wednesday before Easter. In the evening, the main square becomes a huge stage.
Cusco: During one week death and resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ are remembered in Christian believing which is the most important religion in Peru. Everyday there is some particular activity like fasting, not eating any red meat, the preparation of the 12 dishes and different processions remembering live and work of Jesus. This festivity is a clear example of the religion imposed by the Spanish.
|2.-3. May||Cruz Velakuy (Velacuy Cross)||(Cusco)|
|In the house of the “Mayordomos”, or feast day sponsors, the people venerate crosses adorned with colorful ribbons, mirrors and flowers. During the nights, they pray and keep watch in front of the crosses and in the morning carry them in procession to the church to be blessed, accompanied by bands of musicians. In addition to its language, Spain brought to America the cross. Ever since crosses have sprung up like weeds throughout the country. Resting against the walls of Cusco churches, atop the mountains, along the roads, or at the entrance of towns, crosses watch over the passage of faith.
|May-June||El Señor de Qoyllur Riti (the Lord of Qoyllur Riti)||(Cusco)|
|Qoyllur Riti (or snow star) is one of the most important manifestations of Andean religiosity, highly influenced by the Indian worship of the Apus (hills, mountains and snow-capped peaks) and the spirits living in them, the Wamani. In 4 hours walking, passing by nine crosses and apacheta shrines, where the pilgrims pray and sing, they reach the sanctuary of Qoyllur Riti at the great esplanade of Sinakhara, at 4600 mts. Here the crowd stops to wash in the glacial runoff. This is a bath of purification, a prerequisite for entering a spiritual dimension in which the energy of the deities joins with those of nature and man.
|May-June||Festividad Corpus Christi||(Cusco)|
|The Spanish chroniclers recount that one of the most horrible scenes was the parading of the mummies of the Inca nobility. The Incas believed death didn’t take them from this world; death led to another, special sort of life. The dead kept their lands, homes, servants and women and were often carried from their palaces to visit other forebears. In the city of Cusco, parades of mummified ancestors have given way to parades of sacred effigies, especially in the Corpus Christi feast celebrated in May or June. In this event, numerous sacred images make their rounds of the city streets, accompanied by their brotherhoods, being carried to the Cathedral of Cusco where they are blessed during one week before they travel back to their churches.
|24. June||Inti Raymi (Sun Festival)||(Cusco)|
|“It was the solemn Passover of the Sun”, wrote Garcilaso de la Vega in his Royal Commentaries. In the 1940s, a group of Cusco intellectuals decided to bring back the Inca feast, based on Garcilaso’s account. The contemporary dramatization takes place at the Sacsayhuman fortress overlooking the city. Actors recruited from the university, secondary schools and the armed forces bring the principal characters to life: the Inca, the high priest or Willac Umu, the chasqui messengers, aqllas (chosen women) and others. With a great display of music, costumes that are presumably Inca, song and dance, the Inca ruler ascends his usnu or dais. He initiates the ceremonies that culminate in a salute to the four corners (suyos) of the Inca world. The sacrificial killing of a black llama is a significant part of the ceremony.
|15.-21. July||Festividad de la Mamacha Carmen (the virgin del Carmen)||(Paucartambo)|
|This religious and folk celebration honors the Virgin del Carmen in Paucartambo. The Town is also famous for its proximity to Tres Cruces, a spot 30 kms away at an altitude of 4000 mts, where the sunrise is a dazzling, almost magical sight. Thousands come to Paucartambo each year, caught up in a mysterious energy and motivated by a powerful devotion. Masses and processions alternate with dance troupe performances. The most distinctive dancers are the Saqras (devils), the Huaca Huacas (satirizing bull fights), the Auquis (parodying Chileans), the Siqllas (mocking the justice system) and the Contradanza (revealing French influence).
|28. July||Yawar Fiesta||(Cusco-Cotabambas)|
|Cotabambas, a town in the department of Apurimac, holds this ritual bullfight on Peru’s independence holidays (July 28 and 29) as a representation of the fight from the Incas against the Spanish conquerors. As opposed to the Spanish style bullfights, a condor (representing the Incas) is the central figure in this traditional ritual. The bird is tied to the back of the bull (representing the Spanish), which is enraged by the bird’s pecking. Brave celebrants jump spontaneously into the bullring to risk waving the cape in front of the enraged animal. In the end, the celebrants free the condor.
|28. July||Fiestas Patrias (Independence Holidays)||(All the country)|
|On July 28, 1821, Peru proclaimed its independence from Spain and ever since has commemorated the day with various ceremonies and festivities throughout the country. The celebrations include evening gatherings in the open air and other popular festivities in the squares and streets of cities and towns. Each locality has its traditions, including bullfights, musical bands, sports events and other activities. The greatest attraction of this holiday, however, is the parades. The most important military parade marches down one of Lima’s main avenues.
|1. August||Pago a la Pachamama (Payment to mother earth)||(Highlands of Peru)|
|This festivity is realized all over the highlands of Peru on August 1st. It is an ancestral festivity where locals thank “Pachamama” or mother earth for everything received during the year (good crops etc.) paying their respect with little gifts like wine, symbols, coca leaves etc.
|14. September||El Señor de Huanca (the lord of Huanca)||(Cusco)|
|The lord of Huanca was painted on a rock, around which the main altar was built. According to the story, in 1675, an Indian named Diego Quispe fled from the abuses he suffered in the Yasos mine. He hid out in a cave, which was illuminated by the presence of Christ. After hearing the occurrence, the priests of Our Lady of Mercy in Cusco, sent an artist from the famous Cusco School to paint an image of the Lord at the site where he had appeared. Since then, every September 14, numerous devotees arrive, some from as far away as Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile to be blessed by the parish priest at the sanctuary, in hopes that their dreams will come true.
|31. October||Día de la Música Criolla (Festivity of the Criollan Music)||(All the country)|
|Every 31st of October the Criollan Music is remembered, mainly in the north of Peru where it’s originated. In all the Music Clubs, Bars and Peñas you can find live music plaid with guitars and Cajones (Boxes) accompanied by special meals and drinks.
|1.-2. November||Todos Santos (All Saints Day)||(Cusco)|
|This festivity starts with the day of the living on November 1st where live is worshipped meeting up with family and friends having a nice meal. On November 2nd is the day of the dead where passed away family members and friends are remembered. Everybody visits the cemetery and little gifts, the favorite meals and drinks are brought to share with the loved ones on their day. The famous dish is lechon (roasted pork).
|The works of the artisans from Cusco have become known around the world and have defined a distinct style and mark in Peru’s popular art, fundamentally the art of Cusco. For Christmas, these unknown artists make ready the best of their patient creations and carry them in a sort of pilgrimage to the city of Cusco. There, on December 24, on woollen blankets spread on the ground, they stack their miniatures in disorderly heaps that are magical mountains of delight for the children.|