Having admired Peru's rich and compelling archaeological heritage and marvelled at its great natural beauty, head to the capital city, Lima. Founded in 1535 by a Spanish conquistador, the city comprises an eclectic mix of modern and Colonial architecture and operates at a much slower pace than its South American counterparts due, perhaps in part, to the more sedate constitution of its people and its seafront location. Perfect for city-lovers, the diverse architecture and urban treasures – such as art galleries and shops – is ripe for exploration, and by hiring a Guide or Driver, travellers are able to explore them all, with the additional benefit of local knowledge. For something a little different, visitors to Lima can also visit its catacombs at the Church and Convento de San Francisco and discover the skeletons of people believed to have been buried there between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Located in the southern highlands of Peru and 11,000 feet above sea level, Cuzco a richly historic city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Throughout its deeply fascinating past, Cuzco has been home to Incan civilisations and invading Spanish conquerors, both of which have left their mark. From ancient temples once lined with solid gold walls, to awesome cathedrals, Cuzco is flushed with historic significance. Marvel at the colonial works of art and detailed wood carvings dotted across the city squares and walk through charming cobblestone alleyways admiring impressive Spanish mansions. From here you can also start your adventure to Machu Picchu, criss-crossing your way through Incan ruins on the world-famous Inca Trail.
The mist-shrouded Inca citadel was found amongst a thick jungle landscape, quite by accident, by the American historian, Hiram Bingham, who stumbled upon it in 1911 while searching for Vilcabamba. Invisible from below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population and watered by natural springs, Machu Picchu seems to have been created by the Inca as a secret ceremonial city. It is the world's finest example of how to use a natural material – in this case, the rock escarpment – to build a structural design appropriate to the surroundings.
For travellers who wish to explore Peru, the country has other charms besides Machu Picchu. The Nazca Lines, giant sketches created on such a large scale that they can only really be truly appreciated from the air; desert coastal plains stretching as far as the eye can see and a vast green carpet of jungle, home to the greatest diversity of plants in the world. Botanists will be enthralled by the three-hundred types of plantlife, including cacti.
For bird-lovers, no trip to Peru should be considered complete without a visit to Colca Canyon, one of the deepest ravines in the world, to see over one-hundred species of bird and observe the Andean Condor taking flight – the largest flying bird in the world, it’s a truly breathtaking sight.
Lake Titicaca is South America's largest freshwater lake and a sacred place for the Inca civilisation. According to legend, it is the place where the first Inca king, Manco Capac, was born and where the god, Viracocha came out of the lake to create the sun, stars and first people.
Peru's Amazon River
Water of a different nature can be found in Peru's lush, unspoilt Amazon Basin. Aqua Expeditions 3, 4 and 7 night cruises have been designed to provide guests with a unique perspective of this incredible eco-system. Cruises travel along a stretch of the Amazon River allow guests to partake in bird and animal-spotting, observation of a diverse collection of flora and fauna and to see riverside shanty towns.
Museo Santuarios Andinos at Arequipa
For something completely different, visit the frozen Inca mummies at the Museo Santuarios Andinos at Arequipa, that are accessible on an excursion from Lima.
Peruvian cuisine combines a variety of ingredients gathered from the coastal, mountain and Amazon regions. The cold sea current also makes the waters rich in fish, and because of the particular type of plankton consumed by them, they are particularly tasty. Fish and seafood restaurants are, therefore, plentiful and worth visiting after a busy day shopping in the open marketplaces or immersing yourself in Peru’s golden past, courtesy of one of its museums.
The climate in Peru varies considerably, region by region. Depending on what time of year you visit, Lima will either greet you with a dense curtain of mist or bask you in glorious rays of sunlight. Visit between the months of December and April and you can expect blue skies and radiant sunshine, whereas between May and October, prepare for a low, albeit majestic grey fog. The best time to visit Machu Picchu is May or October when it is milder at night and dry and sunny during the day (do avoid the month of February, when the Inca Trail is usually closed). The rainy season occurs from November to March.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Peru.
British Airways direct flight from London Gatwick to Lima.
From London Gatwick to Lima: 12 hours, 35 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.
For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website. View the travel advice in full here: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/peru