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About Peru

 

Peru
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.

Climate
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

GROUP SPECIES IN PERU SPECIES WORLDWIDE
Mammals 431 4630
Birds 1800 + 9040
Reptiles 364 7000
Amphibians
315
4700
Butterflies 4250
24000

Population
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.

Culture
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.



Departament Description

 

Tumbes
Tumbes is the most northerly of Peruvian departments at the border to Ecuador. This was the area where Pizarro landed in 1532.  Some of the finest sandy beaches with nice resorts can be found here and besides relaxing and swimming there is a lot of surfing, diving and deep sea fishing going on. Tumbes is also home to the National Sanctuary of Mangroves that protects 3000 of Peru’s remaining 4750 ha of mangrove forest. It contains examples of all five species of mangroves as well as being home to over 200 bird species, especially pelicans.

 

CAPITAL:

Tumbes (7 mt/ 23 ft.)

POPULATION:

193’800

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima (appr. 2 ¼ hrs.), by car/bus from Lima over the Pan-American Highway (appr. 18 hrs.)

CLIMATE: All year round hot and dry with temperatures from 25-35 C°. Summertime from December to April are the best months for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing.
GASTRONOMY:

The best coastal dishes are seafood based, the most popular being ceviche. This is a dish of white fish marinated in lemon juice, onion and hot peppers. Traditionally, ceviche is served with cancha (toasted corn) and sweet potatoes. A big variety of delicious fresh oven baked, fried or grilled fish dishes can be enjoyed all along the coast. Try the Black Oyster Ceviche and Chiringuito, a drink made of tender coconut water and spirits.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Swimming, surfing, diving and deep sea fishing with overnights at nice beach resorts. Day trips to the national mangrove sanctuary in Tumbes to observe the diverse flora & fauna.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

The cold and warm tropical currents create in the Peruvian cost a great opportunity for deep-sea fishing and you can catch Yellow fin tuna, Black Marlin, Sea Bass and Grouper, among others. For surfing some of the biggest waves are being found here, bring your own equipment.

 

 

Loreto

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Iquitos (100 mt/330 ft.)

POPULATION:

866’000

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima, Tarapoto and Pucallpa (appr. 1 hr.), by boat (Amazon cruises) from Pucallpa, Yurimaguas or the Colombian/Brazilian border (3-6 days).

CLIMATE:

As this is the rainforest it may rain anytime, especially from December to March. Its climate is tropical: Warm and humid all year round (90 % humidity) except when the cold fronts from the Antarctic hit the rainforest (friajes with temperatures dropping to 10 to 15 C°)

GASTRONOMY:

The main ingredient in much jungle cuisine is Fish, especially the succulent, dolphin-sized Paiche. Juanes are a jungle version of tamales, made of rice, stuffed with chicken and egg and wrapped in bijao leaves. Tacachos are roasted and mashed green bananas served with cured meat.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

The Amazon River is the widest and with its 6280 km length the 2nd longest river in the world, providing nourishment to abundant regional flora and fauna like pink dolphin, slots, and black caimans among others. There are some fantastic Amazon Cruises organized throughout the department.
The National Reserve of Pacaya Samiria is one of the largest natural reserves in Peru (over 2 million of ha). It lodges a great diversity of species of flora and fauna such as black alligator, river wolf, pink dolphin, anaconda, black alligator and macaw, among others and congregates scholars, biologists and other experts to study its flora and fauna.
The longest canopy walkway in the world from where you can explore the mysteries of the rainforest (accessible from different Rainforest Lodges)

TO KEEP IN MIND:

Iquitos is very remote and only accessible by airplane or boat. The rainforest still holds many secrets like medicinal plants that may be the cure of many actual and future diseases.
For rainforest visits it is necessary to carry a yellow fever certificate of vaccination. Malaria can also be a problem in this region (consult your tropical specialist about the best prevention according to your personal needs),

 

 

San Martin

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Moyobamba (850 mt/ 2800 ft.)

POPULATION:

721’300

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima (appr. 1 hr.), by car from Lima (appr. 24 hrs.)

CLIMATE:

Dry Season: April-October with temperatures up to 35 C°. This is the best time to visit the rainforest area. Rainy Season: November-April, humid and hot with heavy rainfalls at any time.

GASTRONOMY:

Juanes are a jungle version of tamales, stuffed with chicken and rice. Timbuche, fish soup with eggs and cilantro. Tacacho are mashed broiled bananas with pork lard. Inchicapi, soup prepared with cornmeal, garlic, peanuts, yucca and hen.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Abiseo River National Park (275’000 has) with a great diversity of ecosystems and a pristine cloud forest.
El gran Pajaten: Archaeological complex (Chachapoyas legacy, 1300-1400 AD) with anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and geometrical decorations, transmitting the telluric information of warriors and priests that have inhabited the area. Not totally explored yet.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

There are many archaeological sites still covered by the dense vegetation, attracting archaeologists and intrepid explorers.

 

 

Ancash

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Huaraz (2800 mt/ 9240 ft.)

POPULATION:

1’065’600

HOW TO GET THERE:

By car or tourist bus from Lima (appr. 6-7 hrs.)

CLIMATE:

Dry Season: April to October, warm and dry during the day (20-25 C°), cold and dry at night, often below freezing. Rainy Season: November to 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°).

GASTRONOMY:

Picante de Cuy, a fried guinea-pig stew with potatoes and spices. Pecan-caldo, lamb´s head soup with parsley, cilantro, pepper mint and hot pepper. Humitas de Chochoca, a pastry elaborated with tender corn, eggs, lard and sugar, stuffed with cheese and raisins, wrapped in corn leaves. Chicha de jora huarmeyana, fermented corn beer with barley and quinoa.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Chavin the Huantar one of the oldest archeological sites in South America (1200-1000 BC), considered to have been a major ceremonial center, with a subterranean labyrinth of passages and galleries.
Trekking, Climbing, Mountain Bike Tours and Rafting in the Huascaran National park (Cordillera Blanca, Huayhuash, etc.)
Sechin, a large square temple with about 500 carved stone monoliths representing anthropomorphous figures known as warriors (pre-Chavin Sechin culture, appr. 1600 BC).

TO KEEP IN MIND:

If you are going to climb in the Cordillera Blanca and need more information you can contact the experienced climber Brad Johnson who has explored and mapped many of the possible routes in the Huaraz area.  bradpeaks@montrose.net

 

 

Lima

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Lima (154 mt/510 ft.)

POPULATION:

9’000 000

HOW TO GET THERE:

International and national flights into Lima

CLIMATE:

Summer: December to April, warm and dry with temperatures from 25-35 C°. These are the best months for swimming. Winter: May-November, the temperature drops and it is cloudy.

GASTRONOMY:

The best coastal dishes are seafood based, the most popular being Ceviche: dices of raw fish marinated in lemon juice, hot pepper and salt, garnished with onion, corn kernels and sweet potato. A big variety of delicious fresh oven baked, fried or grilled fish dishes can be enjoyed all along the coast: Make sure you try the excellent Corvina, or white sea bass. You should also try Chupe de Camarones, which is a shrimp stew. Aji de Gallina, a peanut/hot pepper based sauce with shredded chicken, accompanied with boiled potatoes and rice. Do not forget to try Chicha morada, a fresh soft drink, made of purple corn, pineapple and cinnamon and the classic Pisco Sour, a great appetizer!!

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Pachacamac, a pilgrimage and religious center in ancient times, Pyramidal construction made of adobe bricks, some corridors and labyrinths, occupied by the Wary and Inca culture (8th – 15th century). City Centre or Plaza Mayor with its beautiful restored colonial buildings and Museums (Anthropological, National or Gold museum).

TO KEEP IN MIND:

During independence day, July 28-29th businesses are closed for 3 days and there are many military parades. October the festival of the lord of the miracles is one of the most intense catholic celebrations. Professional bullfights and cockfights are organized frequently during this time as well.

 


Ica

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Ica (406 mt/1340 ft.)

POPULATION:

700’000

HOW TO GET THERE:

By car/bus from Lima (4 hrs.)

CLIMATE:

All year round warm and dry with temperatures from 20-35 C°, occasional sand storms from June to September.

GASTRONOMY:

The best coastal dishes are seafood based, the most popular being Ceviche. This is a dish of white fish marinated in lemon juice, onion and hot peppers. Traditionally, ceviche is served with cancha (toasted corn) and sweet potatoes. You should also try Chupe de pallares verdes, which is a shrimp stew with lima beans, zucchini, eggs, fish and milk. Carapulcra, dried potatoes, peanuts and different kinds of meat.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Nazca lines: enigmatic geometric, animal and anthropomorphic designs, etched on the desert floor. Their dimensions vary from 10 to more than 300 meters and are one of the most mysterious remains on earth. The Paracas National Reserve: where the Ballestas Islands –also known as little Galapagos- are full of sea lions, Humboldt penguins, flamingoes and thousands of other birds. Huacachina: Oasis surrounded by sand dunes were the sand boarding is commonly practiced.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

Try to visit some of the wine and pisco cellars  at the Hacienda Tacama, Vista Alegre or Ocucaje, all of them have outstanding patios, arcades and baroque facades.

 

 

Arequipa

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Arequipa (2300 mt/7600 ft.)

POPULATION:

2’000’000

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima (1 ¼ hrs.) or Cusco, Juliaca and Tacna (30 min.), by car/bus from Lima (16 hrs.), by car/bus/train from Puno (8 hrs.) or Cusco (16 hrs.),

CLIMATE:

All year round warm and dry during the day with temperatures from 20-25 C°, cool at night. Very little rainfall during Wintertime (November-April).

GASTRONOMY:

Adobo, pork seasoned and cooked in hot pepper and chicha (corn beer). Soltero, diced fresh cheese accompanied with boiled potatoes, olives and lettuce. Rocoto relleno is spicy peppers stuffed with beef and vegetables. A delicacy in the highlands is Cuy, guinea pig.  Chupe de camarones, soup of shrimps and eggs, beans, cheese and hot pepper. Copa, boiled potato covered with a creamy sauce made of hot yellow pepper, roasted peanuts, olives, garlic and fresh cheese.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Colca and Cotahuasy canyons, with more than 3200 mt/10’500 ft. deep, stand as the deepest canyons on earth. These agricultural valleys are extensively farmed since pre-Incan times and the observation of Condors in their natural habitat is one of the highlights of this area. The Valley of Volcanoes: there are more than 90 extinct volcanoes, great hikes in the area.
Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve: Among Volcanoes, lagoons and stone forest, the shy vicuñas can be seen here.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

One of the principal tributaries of the Amazon river starts at the glacier Mismi, located at 5597 mt/18 362 ft. in the Arequipa department. Great hikes around this area.

 

 

Puno

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Puno (3825 ms/ 12’640 ft)

POPULATION:

1’199’000

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima (2 ¼ hrs.) or Arequipa (30 min.), by car/bus from Lima (24 hrs.), by car/bus/train from Arequipa (8 hrs.) or Cusco (8 hrs.),

CLIMATE:

Dry Season: April to October, warm and dry during the day with temperatures around 20-25 C°, cold and dry at night, often below freezing. Rainy Season: November to April, dry and clear most mornings, some rainfall in the afternoon. Cool temperatures during the day and freezing at night.

GASTRONOMY:

Corn and potatoes date back to Inca times and are found in a remarkable variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Meat dishes are many and varied: A dish almost guaranteed to appear on every restaurant menu is Lomo saltado, a kind of stir-fried beef with onions, vinegar, ginger, chilly, tomatoes and fried potatoes, served with rice. Rocoto relleno is spicy peppers stuffed with beef and vegetables; Others include Chicharrones, deep fried chunks of pork ribs and chicken or fish, and Lechon, suckling pig. A delicacy in the highlands is Cuy, guinea pig and Chairo, Lamb and tripe broth with vegetables,

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

LakeTitikaka National Reserve: A great place to do some bird watching and visit the traditional Uros Islands, an ancient community that lives on reed Islands. Taquile and Amantani Islands: homestay with the locals to experience the traditions and culture first hand is available on these islands. Sillustani: Funerary towers, constructed to preserve de bodies of the royal class in Incan times. Aramumuro: A large sandstone, which has been eroded for thousands of years, it has been used for ceremonies and astronomical observation. Note that there are healers whom assist to this place and practice ceremonies.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

La Virgen de la Candelaria (The Virgin of the Candelaria) is 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.

 

 

Cusco

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Cusco (3350 mt/10 990 ft.)

POPULATION:

1’064’100

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima (1 hr.) or Arequipa and Pto.Maldonado (30 min.), by car/bus from Lima (19 hrs.), by car/bus/train from Arequipa (14 hrs.) or Puno (7 hrs.),

CLIMATE:

Dry Season: April to October, hot and dry during the day with temperatures around 20-25 C°, cold and dry at night, often below freezing. Rainy Season: November to 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°).

GASTRONOMY:

Corn and potatoes date back to Inca times and are found in a remarkable variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Meat dishes are many and varied: A dish almost guaranteed to appear on every restaurant menu is Lomo saltado, a kind of stir-fried beef with onions, vinegar, ginger, chilly, tomatoes and fried potatoes, served with rice. Rocoto relleno is spicy peppers stuffed with beef and vegetables; Others include Chicharrones, deep fried chunks of pork ribs and chicken or fish, and Lechon, suckling pig. A delicacy in the highlands is Cuy, guinea pig. Very filling and good value are the many soups on offer.  Chiriuchu, served only during the catholic celebrations of Corpus Christy, dried beef, chicken, sausage, cheese, corn and a kind of tortilla.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Machupicchu and the Inca trail, world famous and a must for every visitor to Peru: natural and cultural heritage of mankind, meant to be one of the mayor universities of the Andean world. Religious, political and spiritual capital in the jungle area (15th century). Sacred Valley of the Incas: A very rich valley with beautiful local markets and fascinating ruins. Sacsayhuaman: temple dedicated to the universe, the cyclopean architecture used here is unique, a must to visit!! Choquequirao, Salkantay & Ausangate hikes can be done from 5 to 10 days.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

The Inti Raimy or the sun festival takes place during the solstice (June 24th) and resembles the devotion and power inspired in the father sun during Incan times.

 

 

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.

 

CAPITAL:

Puerto Maldonado (200 ms/ 660 ft)

POPULATION:

85’000

HOW TO GET THERE:

Flights from Lima (appr. 2 hrs.) or Cusco (30 min.), by car/bus from Lima (2 ½ days)

CLIMATE:

The climate is warm and humid all year through (temperatures up to 35 C°).
Dry Season: April-October is the best time to visit the rainforest as rivers are low and animals that stay close to the rivers are easily spotted. It is also a good time to observe nesting. 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, same climate as in dry season with heavy rainfalls at any time.

GASTRONOMY:

The main ingredient in much jungle cuisine is fish, especially the succulent, dolphin-sized Paiche, which comes with the delicious palmito, or palm-hearts, and the ever-present yucca and fried bananas. Patarashca, fish wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over hot coal.
Motelo Soup, made with turtle meat and served in its own shell. Tacacho, broiled banana served with chicharrones – fried pieces of pork- and minced onion.

TURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Manu National park: The largest tropical rainforest biosphere reserve on earth: it holds over 1’000 species of birds and covers an altitudinal range from 200-4100 mt/ 650- 13’450 ft. above sea-level. Giant river otters, jaguars, ocelots and 13 species of primates abound in this pristine tropical wilderness, and indigenous tribes are present in the more remote areas.
Tambopata Candamo National Reserve: Virgin jungle with an astonishing bio-diversity fostering birds, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as other mammals like Jaguars, Monkeys, Tapirs etc. Easy access and comfortable Lodges for the prefect short trip to the rainforest.
Heath Pampas: Savannah in the midst of tropical forests with unique species of wild fauna.

TO KEEP IN MIND:

For rainforest visits it is necessary to carry a yellow fever certificate of vaccination. Malaria can also be a problem in this region (consult your tropical specialist about the best prevention according to your personal needs),

 

 

Festivity Calendar
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).

24. December Santurantikuy (Cusco)
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.
CULTURAS PERU S.R.L.
Tandapata 354-A Cusco - Perú
Phone & Fax: +51 84 243629
marco@culturasperu.com
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