"Peru: HIstory, Culture and Unexpected Beauty" Peru by AKtravelers
Peru Travel Guide: 7,632 reviews and 20,258 photos
We have to admit that we never gave Peru much thought as a place to visit. Sure, Machu Picchu has always been on our list of must-see places, but it was only after our cousin Matt took job in Lima that we gave the idea of a vacation in Peru any real thought. What a huge mistake to wait so long!
We expected Peru to be rich in pre-Columbian history, and we weren't disappointed. In fact, we were amazed at how many ruins we saw just in the Sacred Valley, and that they were so common place that the inhabitants live their lives around them and even, in the case of Inca farming terraces, still use them. What astounded us most was the variety of our Peruvian experience. With friendly and interesting people, astonishingly beautiful mountains and rich colonial architecture, Peru is much more than a museum to the Incas.
Our voyage to Peru can be broken up into three parts, each of which will have its own VT page:
2. Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes
3. Cusco/Sacred Valley
This page will focus on the commonalities that we saw in the small portions of Peru we visited. For details on sites and such, please visit the specific pages.
We were unprepared for how beautifl Peru would be. The natural wonder of the Andes, snow-capped espite lying at the equator, amazed us. The green fields, interspersed with colorful potato and alfalfa flowers, contrasted with the brooding mountains beyond to create a palatte that would inspire any artist. In many ways, Peru reminded us of Ireland, a comparison that is laughable until you 've been to both places.
Sadly, none of this beauty is on display in Lima. If you are limiting your Peruvian visit to the capital, rethink your plans. Lima is the exception to what Peru has to offer, not the rule.
Though Peru was colonized by Spain for 300 hundred years and retains the Spanish language, there is still a great deal that remains of their Incan heritage. This is very interesting for the visitor, but is also occassionally confusing.
This dichotomy was most evident in the Presidential Palace, where a large painting of indigenous hero Tupac Amaru presides in the press room while the dining room has chairs adorned with Pisarro's coat of arms -- which shows an Inca in chains! In Lima, it's clear that the Spanish colonial heritage is acendant.
But in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, much of the pre-colonial ways survive. About 13 million people still speak Quechua, the language of the Incas. People still farm the terraces build by preceding civilizations, drink chicha and are proud of their ethnic heritage. This is a remnant of the Spanish strategy in Peru of coopting the top layer of Incan society and letting the rest live as they wished (as long as they went to mass and didn't rebel). As you travel outside of Lima, it will become clear why Peru is the first Western Hemisphere country to have a leader descended from its pre-Columbian population.
There were many times that Peru reminded me of Ireland (that's odd, isn't it?). But one of the most striking... more travel advice
In English, when we want someone to smile for a photograph, we ask them to say "Cheese!". In Peru (and possibly other... more travel advice
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