The Department of Cusco is located in the south-east of the country, covering both the mountain and jungle regions.
Cusco, sacred city and capital of the Inca Empire or Tahuantinsuyo (In the Quechua language, tahua: four; suyo: region), was the centre of government of four extensive regions of the fabulous Empire, which came to encompass much of the present countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
Their civilization was an admirable example of political and social organization that highlighted their great knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, architecture, hydraulic engineering, medicine, and in particular agriculture.
From 1825, in the time of the Republic in Peru, Cusco began to show its impressive culture and with the discovery of Machu Picchu, conducted by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Peru became the point of attention for the whole world.
The weather in Cusco: (current weather link)
The Cusquenian climate is relatively fresh. The average annual temperature fluctuates between 10.3 ° C and 13 ° C (between 50.5 ° to 52.3 ° Fahrenheit). There is some uniformity in temperature between summer and winter. Normally it is cold at night and during the early hours of the morning the temperature considerably increases until noon. On sunny days the temperature reaches 20 ° C.
The main attractions of Cusco:
La Plaza de Armas: Cusco’s main square, known as Huacaypata, which means ‘sorrow’ or ‘lamentation’. It relates to the tradition which was devised by the founder Manco Cápac as the symbolic centre of the Empire. It was here in 1781, that Túpac Amaru II, leader of an indigenous uprising against Spanish oppression was executed along with his wife Micaela Bastidas and his sons.
Fortaleza de Sacsayhuamán: a walled fortress situated on a hill overlooking the city centre, which has immense walls formed by monumental stones constructed in the form of zigzag’s three platforms high that average 360 m long. There are stones of up to 9m long and 5m wide.
Tambomachay: an archaeological site, also known as “The baths of the Inca”, in which the staircases have crystal waterfalls that affirms water was worshipped here.
Fortaleza Roja de Puca Pucara: ruins of a military fortification with terraces, stairways, underground passages, towers, niches and platforms, which are very important to Cusco.
Anfiteatro de Kencco: An ancient Inca shrine built in stone. There are passages, channels and staircases with engravings representing the sacred puma.
Barrio de San Blas: A few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this typical neighborhood, houses the workshops of the most important families of artisans of Cusco, such as the Mendivil, Olave and Mérida. Within the local church the famous pulpit, beautifully carved in wood from a single piece, is almost 400 years old.
Templo de Korikancha: The Sun Temple was built during the Inca Pachacutec government; on this temple the Spaniards erected the church of Santo Domingo. Recent discoveries give an idea of the importance of the Inca religious worship.
Machu Picchu: The most important attraction of all for its global impact, this sacred city is considered the seventh wonder of the world and demonstrates the wisdom of the Inca culture, which was able to build a citadel of giant stones perfectly fitted together in a location with difficult access. Special attention has been brought to the skill and fortitude that must have been needed to move these stone masses from distant locations, since there is no evidence of quarrying for many miles.
Valle Sagrado de los Incas: An unforgettable journey through Cusco’s famous Sacred Valley with the Urubamba River or Vilcanota. As you travel through the valley you can appreciate the peoples of Pisac, Yucay, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. In each of the towns there are pre-Hispanic archeological remains, which were used by the Incas as fortresses and resting places. The Sunday fairs of Chinchero are famous for their textile products.
Piquillacta: a large pre-Inca archaeological site that covers about 63 hectares. It is geometrically surrounded by terraces and walls that contain their original and high-rise buildings. It served as a defense as well as storage of food.
Andahuaylillas: The district of Andahuaylillas, famous for its church built in 1580 and which is called the ‘Sistine Chapel of America’. Its external simplicity contrasts with the baroque interior that deploys all its art in its murals, gilded altars, paintings and frescoes.
The department of Puno is located in the south-east region of Peru. However its rugged topography means most of its cities are located in upland areas in the mountains. Puno is bordered to the north with Madre de Dios, in the south with Tacna, to the east with Bolivia and to the west with Cusco, Arequipa and Moquegua.
It covers an area of 72 382 km2 and has a population that exceeds one million inhabitants.
The department’s capital is Puno City, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca and about 3 827 metres above sea level. Other major cities include Juliaca, Azángaro, Huancane, Lampa and Yunguyo.
In ancient times, the Collao plateau was inhabited originally by Aymara groups (Collaos, and Lupacas) and subsequently by the Quechuas.
According to the chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the emergence of the Quechuas coincides with the legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, whom emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca to found the Inca Empire.
The most important and influential pre-Hispanic culture in the area was the Aymara culture, also known as Putina.
In the time of the Viceroyalty, Puno was the regular stopover required by travelers going to Potosi. It was in 1668 that Viceroy Conde de Lemos established San Juan Bautista de Puno as capital of the province of Paucarcolla. Subsequently it was called San Carlos de Puno in tribute to the then prevailing Carlos II of Spain.
In 1870 the railway line from Arequipa to Puno was installed which in turn started navigation of the lake.
Weather in Puno: (tiempo actual link)
Before visiting Puno, it is essential to know that at any time of the year, the climate is cold and semi-dry, due to its geographical location and its altitude, which varies from 3.827 m.a.s.l. up to 6,000 m.a.s.l. (in some areas of the department).
The average temperature is 8 ° C, with maximums of 15 ° C and minimums of 1 ° C in winter.
The main attractions of Puno:
Lago Titicaca: Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It has an area of 8 560 km2 and a maximum depth of 227 metres and is notable also for the transparency of its waters. There are 36 islands, the most important being Taquile and Amantani. It hosts large numbers of birds (such as flamingos, huallatas, keles and tiquis), as well as many varieties of fish (killfish, silverside, trout, suches and ispis and more).
Islas flotantes de los Uros: The Uros Islands are a set of 40 big, floating islands of totora reeds where the inhabitants still live like their ancestors, in one of the oldest towns in America, maintaining their customs and traditions.
Isla Taquile: The inhabitants of Taquile Island are dedicated to agriculture and have developed an original form of communal tourism through which its inhabitants share food, housing, customs and traditions with visitors.
Isla Amantaní: On Armantani Island, on the top of the hills, there are archaeological remains that were once centres of adoration and worship.
Chullpas de Sillustani: The archaeological zone of Chullpas, 34 km from the capital, is one of the most important necropolises of the continent. It stands at 4 000 m.a.s.l in an esplanade surrounded by the beautiful lake Umayo. The Chullpas, gigantic burial monuments, quadrangular and circular in shape are over 12m in height, were built by the Collas.
La Catedral: Puno’s cathedral was built in the 18th century and stands out for the quality of its structure and its stone carvings.
Arco Deustua: A building in honor of the heroes of the battles of Junin and Ayacucho. Also a meeting centre to bid farewell to the Feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria de Puno.
Cerrito de Huajsapata: From the Manco Capac lookout one can appreciate the view of the city of Puno and Lake Titicaca.
Other attractions of the Department:
Lampa: A city that has kept its colonial buildings intact. A highlight is the Church of Santiago Apóstol, inside which is a replica of “La Piedad” of Miguel Angel. You can also visit the house of the painter Victor Humareda, a chinchilla nursery and/or the rock paintings of Lensora.
Desaguadero: A border city and international bridge with Bolivia. Nearby are the rock paintings of Pizacoma, approximately ten thousand years old.
Chucuito: A small village with preserved archaeological remains such as the phallic temple Inca Glories, intended for worship for fertility. In addition, the houses and churches still retain their vice regal past.
Pucará: A town where the great temple Pucara is located and in which its inhabitants, prodigious artisans and potters, manufacture the well-known ‘Pucará toritos’ – bull statues placed on the top of a house for protection.
Chimú y Ojerani: Peasant communities whose inhabitants are skilled weavers of totora rafts.
Juli: A busy tourist centre of the region, whose ancient churches retain valuable paintings from the Cusqueña school and others of Italian origin.
Pomata: Its buildings include the churches of Santiago Apóstol and Our Lady of the Rosary, built in the 17th and 18th centuries in pink granite and altars in gold leaf.
Zepita: Population with beautiful churches such as the San Pedro, completely built in stone in the 18th century.
Tinajani: A canyon located in Ayaviri and formed by two huge masses of rock. Villagers call it the ‘bathroom of the devil’, due to loud noises emanating from its interior in the rainy season.
The Department of Arequipa is located in the southeastern part of the country. It has an area of 63,528 km2 and its population borders on one million inhabitants.
Its capital is Arequipa, a city about 2,335 m.a.s.l with beautiful architecture of sillar stone, landscapes and enviable countryside.
The Department of Arequipa has a great history that dates from ancient times. It is estimated that it was first inhabited six to eight thousand years before Christ, during the Paleolithic Period. Evidence of their existence is located near the region of Yarabamba in Pampa Colorada and Sumbay, behind the Misti volcano, where paintings can be seen in their caverns.
On 15 August 1540, under the command of Captain Garcia Manuel Carbajal, the Spaniards founded the Villa Hermosa de Arequipa and a year later, King Carlos V raised it to the category of city and gave the city the coat of arms which is still uses today.
Arequipa is known as ‘The White City’ due to the white color of its buildings constructed with sillar (petrified volcanic ash) from the Chachani volcano. The city was an important bastion in the struggle for the independence of the country in the nineteenth century.
Weather in Arequipa: (tiempo actual link)
Because its territory covers coastal areas and mountains, the department has various climates (intense heat in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter). The city of Arequipa has a semi-arid and temperate climate with a maximum average temperature of 21.7 ° C (71,0 ° F) and a minimum of 6.9 ° C (44,4 ºF). The rainy season starts in January and ends in March.
Main attractions of the Capital:
Plaza de Armas: In the centre of the city, surrounded by the cathedral church and various portals, the main square, Plaza de Armas of Arequipa, presents a beautiful bronze fountain of three cups topped with the figure of a soldier of the 16th century.
Mirador de Yanahuara: The Yahahuara Lookout is located 2km from the centre of the city of Arequipa (approximately 8 minutes by car). It was constructed in the 19th century. It consists of a series of stone arcs, in which the words of famous Arequipenos are recorded.
Volcán Misti: 17.5 km to the northeast of the city, you arrive at the base of Misti Volcano (about 1 hour 30 minutes by car). At 5822 metres, the volcano is the guardian image of the city. From the top of its peak, it is possible to spot the city of Arequipa, the valley of the river Chili, and the volcanoes Pichu Pichu and Chachani.
Volcán Chachani: Starting from the city of Arequipa (approximately 2 hours by truck) you can go to the base camp of Chachari Volcano; this point starts a walk of about 6 hours up to the summit. Considered to be the easiest mountain to climb in Peru, this volcano – 6075 metres above sea level – is still active.
Baños Termales de Yura: 30km to the north of the city (approximately 45 minutes in car) there are thermal pools located at the base of Chachani Volcano, 2530 metres above sea level. They are known for their therapeutic properties in which the water temperature fluctuates between 29 ° C (84.2 ° F) and 31 ° C (87.8 ° F).
Poblado de Quequeña: 25km to the southeast of the city (approximately 40 minutes by car) this area has been inhabited by Lupacas, Aymaras, Quechuas, Collaguas, Puquinas and in the mid-fifteenth century by the Incas.
Cuevas de Sumbay – Arte Rupestre: 88km to the north of the city (approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes by bus) following the road to Caylloma, the Sumbay Caves are located within the boundaries of the Salinas National Reserve and Aguada Blanca, and house more than 500 cave paintings.
Main attractions of the Department:
Cañón del Colca: A little more than four hours by road from Arequipa is one of the deepest canyons in the world, where condors fly and alpacas and llamas graze.
Cañón de Cotahuasi: It is located in the Arequipeña province of La Union. It is formed by the Cotahuasi River, which originates in the beautiful Huanzococha Lagoon at more than 4,750 m.a.s.l.
Petroglifos de Toro Muerto: Located at Corire in the district of Uraca; this fabulous collection of petrograbados are called Toro Muerto (dead bull).
Andagua: The Valley of the Volcanoes possesses a spectacular beauty due to the presence of several small volcanoes; the most outstanding is located 10km from the town of Andagua called The Twins.
The Department of Ica is located on the coast of Central Peru, 306km from the city of Lima.
The first inhabitants settled in the Department of Ica 8830 years ago in Santo Domingo of Paracas. Samples of mate, guava, tubers and fruits were found, as well as garments made with cactus and samples of skin of the camellia fiber. The department of Ica was the centre of the important pre-Inca civilisations of Nazca (300 years B.C.) and Paracas (700 years B.C.).
The Nazca culture stood out for their knowledge of hydraulic engineering. They built aqueducts and channels underground reinforced with walls of stone and roofs of the tough huarango plant. The Nasquenos stood out also for their extraordinary polychrome ceramics. In the 15th century Pachacutec expanded the Tanhuantinsuyo to the coast of Peru giving rise to the emergence of various villages.
On June 17, 1563 Don Luis Jeronimo de Cabrera founded the Villa de Valverde of Ica. Years later due to several earthquakes, the city moved to its present location and was assigned on behalf of San Jeronimo de Ica.
The Weather in Ica: (tiempo actual link)
Ica is well known for its excellent climate, where the sun shines all year round. From December to March the temperature rises noticeably during the day with an average of 30 ° C at noon, cooling slightly during the night.
In the months of July and August, the temperature drops, especially at night, when it reaches a minimum of 8ºC. Due to the type of desert climate, rainfall is low and the sunlight is strong. For this reason, it is advisable to use some sunscreen and wear a hat.
Main attractions of the Capital:
Plaza de Armas: In the main square one can find the most important wine cellars of the region, Tacama Ocucaje and Vista Alegre. Also situated in the square is the Regional Museum.
La laguna de la Huacachina: Located five kilometres from the city, Huacachina is an oasis of lush vegetation (dunes, palm trees, tamarind and eucalyptus) with sulfurous green waters of healing properties.
Other attractions of the Department:
Chincha: At Kilometre 202 is a rich oasis with pre-Inca remains, once home to much of the black population of the country and its rich folklore. The hacienda of San Jose has tunnels and punishment cells that were used to punish former slaves.
La Reserva Nacional de Paracas: Of the protected areas, in Peru, Paracas is the only one that possesses a marine ecosystem. From the Paracas port, in the Pisco Province, it is possible to visit by boat the Ballestas Islands and San Gallán.
El pueblo de Humay: It is in the province of Pisco, where the ruins of Tambo Colorado are. The complex was built on an ancient fortress of the Chincha culture, to then be adapted and transformed by Pachacutec in the 15th century.
Nazca: An important province where the paredones and aqueducts are. In San Pablo in the province of Nazca, you can visit the House Museum Maria Reiche. Located in the desert plains of San Jose is one of the most baffling enigmas of world archaeology- the lines and figures of the Nazca.
The strange geoglyphs drawn up by the Nazca culture and discovered in 1939 by Toribio Mejia Xespe, represent the figures of different animals and plants, scattered over an area of 450 square kms. It is surprising the spectacular size of the drawings. The figures of the animals reach 15 to 300 metres. There are straight lines of up to 10km long and small squares from 4 up to 10,000 square metres in size.
The fascination and the mystery of the area attracted scholars such as Maria Reiche, the Dame of Nazca, who devoted more than fifty years of her life to the study and significance of these gigantic footsteps. To fly in a small plane over the desert area of Nazca is an unforgettable experience that allows you to appreciate in all its magnitude these unique lines.
MADRE DE DIOS
The department of Madre de Dios is located in the southeast of the country. To the north it borders with the department of Ucayali; to the south and west with Puno; and to the east with Brazil and Bolivia. Its territory covers areas of high and low jungle.
It covers an area of 78 403 km2 and its population is around 50 thousand inhabitants. Its capital is Puerto Maldonado, in the province of Tambopata.
It is estimated that the first inhabitants of Madre de Dios arrived thousands of years ago and it is believed that Arawaks, or their predecessors, the Protoarahuacos, arrived in migrations that were derived from many ethnicities and subsequently were related with the Incas and then the Spaniards. Some tribes, such as the Machiguengas, survive to the present day.
What is known today as Madre de Dios was part of the ancient Inca Empire, a region known as Antisuyo. However, little is known of its formation with accuracy. Even some chronicles of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega referring to this region have been questioned for its contradictory data.
On 26 December, 1912, the department of Madre de Dios was formed, with its capital as Puerto Maldonado.
The Weather in Madre de Dios: (tiempo actual link)
The climate of Madre de Dios is of a tropical type; warm, moist and with rainfall above 1000 mm annually.
The average annual temperature in Puerto Maldonado, capital of the department, is 38 ° C. In the months of August and September the climate of Madre de Dios sometimes suffers from influences of cold air masses coming from the southeast of the American continent causing sensitive temperature lows that make the thermometer drop by up to 8 ° C. These are locally known by the names of “surazo” or “friaje”.
Reserva Nacional Tambopata-Candamo: Located at the confluence of the rivers and the Tambopata Tower, this national reserve covers an area of 5500 hectares of virgin rainforest. It stands out for the richness and variety of birds (approximately 600 species), butterflies (900 species) and dragonflies (115 species).
Reserva de la Biosfera del Manu: The Manu Biosphere Reserve was recognized by UNESCO in March 1973. It covers an area of 1,881,200 hectares and is comprised of three areas: the National Park of Manu intangible zone (1, 806,532 hectares); the Manu zone reserved for tourism (257 000 hectares) ; and the lower Manu cultural zone inhabited by humans (91 394 hectares).
There are beautiful lakes such as Valencia, Copa Manu, Sandoval, La Pastora, Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Cocococha, Tres Chimbadas y Amigos. There also are the rivers Manu, Tambopata, Madre de Dios, La Torre, Manuripe, Las Piedras and Tahuamanu.
The reserve is an ecosystem that has evolved for thousands of years and presents one of the greatest varieties of flora and fauna in the world. It is estimated there are more than 1,000 bird species in total in the park and some 200 species of mammals. Plant species vary between 2-3 billion and it is thought that there are still 10% not known to science.
To enter the reserve it is necessary to have approval from the Directorate of the National Park and to visit it is recommended to spend at least a week there.