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Peru

27 Oct Posted by in South & Central America | Comments
Peru
 
Admiring the view

Admiring the view
Image Credits:Roger Nelson

Peru extends from the shores of the Pacific Ocean, in Western South America, to Brazil in the East and from the borders of Colombia and Equator in the North until the borders of Chile, covering a total area of 1,285,216 Km2. The Andes Mountains, with their highest peak at 6,768 m, mark the division between the arid plains of the coastal area and the Amazon rainforest. Peru was home to the largest pre-Colombian civilization, the Incan Empire whose collapse followed the discovery of the Americas and the later Spanish expeditions lead by Francisco Pizarro. Smallpox introduced for the first time to the American continent by the European conquerors devastated the Incas who had not developed immunity to the disease.

Machu Pichu

The most important Incan site one can visit in Peru is Machu Picchu, in the Urubamba Valley. The site remained unknown to the public until 1911 when it was discovered by historian Hiram Bingham who was employed by Yale University at the time. The Spanish conquerors were not aware of the site and therefore it escaped the destruction that other Incan sites underwent during the Spanish conquering of the Americas. Machu Picchu underwent deterioration only due to abandonment from relatively early on, in 1572 (100 years after its construction).

A Classic View of Machu Picchu

A Classic View of Machu Picchu.
Image Credit Jayegirl99

However, the structures where still functional and were inhabited by Quechuas people at the time of Bingham’s arrival. Theories about the function of the site as well about its abandonment vary. The most prevalent ones suggest that the site was a resort for the Incan ruler Pachacuti and that it was abandoned at the time when smallpox swept through the Incan Empire, wiping out several thousands of indigenous population. Machu Picchu is located near the Incan capital – and now a modern city – of Cusco.

Nazca Lines

Another famous Peruvian archaeological site are the Nazca lines. These lines compose simple geometric shapes in the ground while some of them represent the figures of animals or birds. It is hypothesized that they were curved by the Nazca culture that predated the Incas, between the fifth and seventh century AD. The figures stretch for kilometers, while the whole area where the lines are curved in the ground stretches for a total of 80 Km. The shapes are revealed if they are seen from significant height, from an airplane or helicopter. The reason why they were curved still remains unclear, although it is possible that they had some ritual significance.

Peru has more to offer when you feel overwhelmed by historical sightseeing. Mountaineering is of course on the top of the list, in a mountainous country like Peru. The most popular mountaineering destinations are Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash. If you want to keep it less extreme but at the same time explore as much as you can of Peruvian mountains then you may want to try mountain trekking. You can combine your visit to the Incan sites with mountain trekking and visit Machu Picchu and other archaeological sites as you trek by landscapes that are nothing less of breathtaking.

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  1. Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

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