In our ‘Meet the Experts’ blogs, we ask the destinations specialists in our Product Team to talk to us about some of their favourite places in the world and how we’ve built the perfect tours to show you them.
This week we talk to our Latin America specialist Carolina about Peru and our hugely popular tour, Panoramic Peru; a 15 day extravaganza full of fascinating Inca history, dazzling colonial towns and beautiful scenery.
Q. So what is the appeal of Peru for you?
Carolina. For me Peru is one of South America’s most enthralling destinations with magnificent Incan and Spanish colonial treasures and a natural beauty that ranges from vast canyons and mountains to steamy jungles and serene high plains. The people are incredibly hospitable, there’s a rich mix of cultures and the food is delicious too!
Q. What would be the must see highlights?
Carolina . Well we have to start with Machu Picchu, one of the most iconic sites in South America if not the world. It absolutely will not disappoint, it’s an incredible place. Perched hundreds of metres above the surrounding valley, surrounded by lush jungle and mountains – the setting is simply breath-taking.
We stay overnight close to the ruins so you’ll have plenty of time to explore and even access the site in the early morning before the crowds arrive on the first train. If you can manage the early start and the steps, I thoroughly recommend hiking up to the Sun Gate to see the sun rise over the ruins – magnificent!
Cusco and the Sacred Valley: Home to an incredible Incan legacy, Cusco has some of the richest heritage in Latin America. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s a fascinating mix of Inca temples and Spanish cathedrals sometimes quite literally right on top of each other. We see a local folk performance here which is a fascinating insight into the local culture. The city is also full of charming squares ringed by cafes and restaurants and there is a real buzz about the place. The Sacred Valley surrounding the city is home to some huge Incan ruins, often perched up in spectacular lofty positions, and the market town of Pisac is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs.
Arequipa: I just love Arequipa. Surrounded by towering volcanoes that always seem to be framed by the most perfect blue sky, it enjoys a sensational location. Built out of a smooth volcanic white stone, the whole city gleams in the high altitude sunshine earning it the nickname ‘The White City’. There some lovely baroque colonial architecture to admire and the city is renowned for its dining scene. We shop in the San Camilo market here for ingredients to cook with a local family which is a really lovely experience
The Colca Canyon: Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and over a hundred kilometres long, the Colca Canyon is awesome in the true sense of the word. Sitting on the edge of the canyon gazing out over ancient Inca terraces and watching huge condors soaring on the thermals above you is just wonderful. To top things off, once you’ve finished drinking in the views you can go and hop into the relaxing waters of the local hot springs.
Lake Titicaca: The first thing that strikes you about Lake Titicaca is the colour, the water is the most incredible cobalt blue. The main draw here is the Floating Islands of Uros – what a name eh? – where communities have woven floating homes out of reeds that drift along on the lake. But actually what stuck with me more was spending time on island of Taquile and meeting the local villagers. It was so peaceful and the beauty of the setting really struck me.
Q. How about the lesser known gems?
Carolina. People often rush right through Lima on their way to the Inca heartlands and this is a real mistake in my opinion. The riches of Latin America flowed through Lima in colonial times and it shows. The city has a beautiful historic centre with some stupendous baroque cathedrals, monasteries and mansions. It’s also got the best dining scene in the country, we enjoy a great meal here with a pisco tasting, the national drink and my new favourite tipple!
The day spent in the remote village of Huilloc, in the Sacred Valley, was also really memorable. I got a real insight into the Quechua culture, met and chatted with the villagers and even sat down to a lovely lunch with them after a cooking demonstration. At the other end of the scale, riding the luxury Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno and tucking into delicious food whilst the scenery of the altiplano rolled by was a luxurious treat.
Q. What about the hotels on the tour?
Carolina . I’m really proud of the hotels we feature on this tour, they really are first class. For example, the hotel we use in Cusco (Palacio del Inka) is a beautiful 500 year old mansion and located in front of the Temple of the Sun, whilst the hotel in Puno is located right on Lake Titicaca with beautiful views of the highest navigable lake in the world. The property in the Sacred Valley is a 17th century hacienda!
Q. Thanks for your time Carolina
Carolina. My pleasure. I hope I’ve convinced your readers to visit Peru – it really is wonderful!
What do our customers think?
“We are just back from 2 weeks in Peru on the Panoramic Peru Wendy Wu Tour. The tour was superb from start to finish. There were just 11 of us in the tour group. Peru is such a beautiful country and we now fully appreciate why the tour is called “Panoramic”.
All the hotels were first class, and all the restaurants used were very good. Every day was packed full of activities that were extremely well organised and immersed you fully in the history, culture, geography and wildlife of Peru. The day long train journey from Cusco to Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca was total luxury and passed through miles and miles of endless scenery.
The national escort was Wilbert. He was excellent in every respect, including taking great care of those in the group who weren’t too well due to altitude sickness. Wilbert had so much knowledge of the country. Such a pleasant and talented man. It was an absolute pleasure to travel with him. He was clearly very keen to ensure everyone had a safe, fantastic and very memorable holiday. Which we all did.”
Jane G – Newcastle
On this thrilling journey, much of which is spent at altitude in the Andes Mountains, you’ll discover the heart of the Inca Empire at Machu Picchu, encounter soaring condors and sail on the waters of Lake Titicaca.
• Admire Lima’s colonial sights
• Enjoy a cooking demonstration with a local family
• Spot majestic condors at Colca Canyon
• Meet the locals living on Lake Titicaca
• Explore the beautiful Sacred Valley
• Marvel at the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu
Learn more about our Panoramic Peru Tour