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Peru is a vast country and a stunning place of superlatives. Deep canyons, high Andean mountain peaks, coastal deserts and thick rainforest jungle can all be found within its boundaries. Situated on the western side of South America, it borders on to Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east and Chile to the South. Peru is home to some of the top 'biodiversity hotspots' in the world. Its natural diversity is only rivaled by its cultural riches and historical treasures. About half of Peru's population is comprised of indigenous people, about a third are Mestizo and the rest are of Black African, Asian and European descent. The official language is Spanish, but many different indigenous languages are also spoken.
Peru was the center of the famous Inca Empire, one of the most powerful and influential civilizations of the ancient world. Many traces of this incredible Empire can still be found, intermingled with layers of still more ancient relics of civilizations that were already well developed by the time the Incas took over. These archeological treasures serve as reminders that human civilization had reached remarkable heights in the New World long before the first white man ever put a foot on its shore. To visit Peru is a journey of discovery where ancient and modern mysteries merge into one amazing inner and outer experiences.
Although Peru is comprised of many departements it can be roughly divided into three distinct regions: The arid coastal desert, the Andes and the rainforest region on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Each of these bioregions is unique and has its own natural wonders to offer. The links below offer some general information about each of the departments and also point out some of the lesser-known National Parks, Wildlife sanctuaries and other protected areas.
|THE AMAZON||THE NORTH (coastal)||HIGHLAND||SOUTH (coastal)|
There are many protected areas, wildlife reserves and archeological zones in Peru. To visit most of them it is required to obtain a visitor's permit for a small charge. This can either be a fixed rate or a daily fee, depending on the park. If you go with an organized tour, the tour operators usually take care of the bureaucratic details. The links below only feature the better known reserves. More info on some of the lesser-known protected areas can be found in the section on the different departments of Peru (see above).
For information and details regarding permissions etc. contact:National Institute of Culture Jirón Ancash 390 Lima (051-1- 428 7990)
Or:Ministry of Agriculture, Flora and Fauna Natalio Sanchez 220 3rd. Floor Jesus Maria Lima (051-1- 432 3150)
Peru is a land of extremes. Within its boundaries it lie some of the highest mountains, thickest rainforest, driest deserts, deepest canyons and wildest rivers. Whilst once it was considered dangerous to get too far off the beaten track in Peru, these days it is counts as one of the most fascinating and exotic adventure destinations. More and more outfitters are setting up to offer support, equipment and guidance for adventure and thrill seekers.
Sacred Earth offers some fascinating excursions - explore the high Andes mountains, or the mysterious cloud forest...Or perhaps you would like to go for an adventure in the Amazon, stay at an eco-lodge and learn about native people, their culture, lifestyle and what it is like to live in the rainforest? Then you should check out our
Peruvians are never too tired for a good party. Peru celebrates its many fiestas and Saints days with fervent energy and enthusiasm, whether they take place in the highlands, the jungle or the coast. Fiestas are colorful events, full of music and dancing, processions, parades and fireworks. The list given here is by no means complete and whatever time you are traveling, you are likely to come across local fiestas anywhere and anytime. Below is a table listing public holidays:
|DATE||TYPE OF EVENT||LOCATION|
|1. January||Public holiday||Nationwide|
|6. January||Diá de los Reyes Enactment of Christ's early life||Cuzco|
|2. February||Candlemass, Music and dancing, processions||Nationwide, esp. in Puno area. Also Cuzco, Ayacucho, Arequipa|
|March / April||Semana Santa||Nationwide, best in Cuzco, Puno & Ayacucho|
|7./8. March||Feast of San Juan de Dios Parade, fireworks, dances||Puno|
|1. May||Labor Day||Nationwide|
|2.-3. May||Fiesta de la Cruz||Nationwide|
|Beginning of June||Corpus Christi, Processions and feasting||Nationwide|
|24.June||Inti Raymi - Inca Sun Festival, dances, feasting||Cuzco|
|24. June||St. Juan, Dancing, fiesta||rainforest regions, Ucayali, Iquitos|
|29. June||St. Peter's Day||Nationwide, esp. coastal fishing villages|
|15. - 17. July||Virgen de Carmen Dance and music,||Pisac and Paucartambo|
|28. - 29. July||National Independence Day Parades, fiesta||Nationwide|
|13. - 19. August||Arequipa Week Fiesta, dancing, folklore, arts and crafts||Arequipa|
|30. August||Santa Rosa de Lima||Public Holiday|
|End of September||Festival of Spring Dance, music||Trujillo|
|18. - 28. October||Lord of Miracles Festival Processions||Nationwide, esp. Lima|
|1. November||Fiesta de Todos los Santos||Nationwide|
|2. November||Diá de los Muertos||Nationwide|
|1. - 7. November||Puno Festival,||Puno|
|8. December||Feast of the Immaculate Conceptions||Nationwide|
|25. December||Christmas Day||Public Holiday|
The climate can be a bit confusing in this country of extremes. The 3 different ecological zones each have their own weather patterns. In the coastal desert region it hardly ever rains, though during the winter months (April - November) the Lima region gets quite a lot of fog, unpleasant temperatures and drizzle. During the early part of the year El Niño can cause havoc along the coast and torrential downpours have been known to wash away whole roads, bridges and all. In the highlands the driest months are from May to October, which makes it the most favorable time for trekking in the mountains, though nights can get distinctly chilly, depending on altitude. In the jungle regions too, May to October tend to be the driest months, though here it may rain at any time. However, most jungle downpours in the dry season don't last very long. During the wet season many areas may become completely inaccessible as roads are turned into mudflats.
American citizens, EU citizens, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders currently do not require a visa to enter Peru. All visitors are required to fill out a 'Tourist Card' upon arrival which they should keep with their passports at all times and which will be collected upon leaving the country. Visa regulations change sometimes, so it is best to get up to date information before leaving.
SOUTH AMERICAN EXPOLORERS CLUB
Excellent resource for travelers to Peru and elsewhere in South America. Information, maps, practical help and advice and much more. They now have club houses in Cuzco, Lima and Quito. Members receive discounts at many South American hotels. Their site offers a travellers message board and trip reports where one can get the latest news about all kinds of destinations, from people who have actually been there recently. They also now have volunteer job listings.
ADVENTURES IN PERU
Not as adventurous as it sounds, but some good descriptions, pics and general info.
THE LIVING EDENS - MANU
A PBS site all about Manu Biosphere Reserve, its nature and culture, nicely presented and very informative.
CULTURES OF THE ANDES
An on-line introduction to Andean culture, including a brief course in Quetchua, Quetchua dictionary, music, pictures and more.
PERULINKS.COM is a great collection of, well, Peru links.
ABIS (Andean Botanical Information System) represents an effort to provide collection information from the floristic and systematic investigations of the phanerogams (flowering plants) of Andean South America. ABIS is developing a networked database of specimen-label data for selected groups of Andean plants, including the flora of coastal Peru and Chile, floristic inventories of montane forests of northern Peru, and monographic treatments with online images.
PLANTS OF THE MACHIGUENGA
An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in eastern Peru. Photos of plants along with botanical and medicinal information about them. Also, photos of birds, people and the rich forests of Peru.
SYLLABUS ON PHYTOMEDICALS - AMAZONIAN /IBEROAMERICAN PLANTS
Notes on the uses of some Amazonian plants
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