Peru – the jewel in South America’s crown

Peru – the jewel in South America’s crown

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

If you’re looking for a destination that has it all, you could do a lot worse than Peru. With plenty of wildlife (84 of the world’s life zones are found here), stunning views, and plenty of buzzing towns and cities to explore, there’s something in this fascinating country for everyone, and you’ll certainly be able to keep yourself occupied throughout your stay.

Perhaps most famous for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, Peru is perfect for adrenaline junkies looking for a challenge, and while the infamous Trail is well worth a visit there’s plenty of other options that are also worth attempting; the mountain region of Cordillera Blanca offers some stunning views as well as some of the most testing treks you’re likely to go on.

It’ll also put your camping skills to the test: while the region does have plenty of towns to base yourself in, many of the treks are often a few days long. Invest in light layers and sturdy winter coats by respected brands such as Rab, and don’t skimp on the camping equipment you take.

If you are thinking of a trek in Peru, the right equipment and clothing is essential. While the weather is usually mild on the lowland, the mountains and higher ground can be exceptionally cold: snow boots may be a necessity! As a rule, May to September will be warmer, but winter jackets will still be required if you are planning to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

Peru is known for having a diverse range of wildlife, and animal lovers should try to make a pit-stop at the Manú National Park. Not only will you get to see some of the most exotic (and rarest) animals in the country, the park has been left relatively untouched by developers, meaning the old Peruvian way of life still thrives.

Pick a campsite and explore by day, although consider investing in high-grade equipment and clothes: much of the park is still rather wild, and quality brands like Rab clothing will last much longer (and feel more comfortable).

For something a little more cosmopolitan, head to the coast and take advantage of the many beach resorts. Máncora in the north is a traditional Peruvian holiday destination, and as a result is filled with a large crowd of young and fun holidaymakers, particularly at weekends and in the summer. There’s plenty of cheap accommodation in this area as well, so take advantage of the budget-friendly rooms and let your hair down for a night or two.

However you spend your time in Peru, this lively and diverse country will certainly stick in your memory, particularly if you’re prepared to move away from the traditional tourist traps and try something a little more authentic.

Whether camping in the mountains or partying on the beaches, there’s something for everyone, and the country soon proves that it can more than hold its own against its better-known South American cousins. Grab your boots and get exploring one of the world’s most beautiful hotspots.

Image by malojavio. El Saucejo