Peru is a colorful land of textiles, ancient ruins, and incredible culture.The history of Peru stretches back more than 10,000 years. Peruvian culture is a beautiful mix of Hispanic and native traditions.
It is a land filled with enchantment, riches and mystery. Some of the interesting things we got to see and experience during our trip:
- As we traveled through several Inca ruins, we became aware of their religious views. The snake, puma and condor represent the three stages of Inca life (in Quechua called the “Chakana” cross) The snake represents the lower or underworld, the puma represents the middle world of earth and the heavens are represented by the condor. These three symbols were found not only on ruins but also on textiles, pottery and buildings. Even the city Cusco was made by the Incas in shape of a puma.
- Incas left behind stone fortresses, the Inca ruins set in sacred mountains including Machu Picchu which declared one of the new wonders of the world in 2008.
- Nazca Lines was one on my shortlist of must-do things in Peru. Took the flight from Pisco airport. After paying the airport tax, went through the pre- flight procedures and then climbed onboard a 12-passenger aircraft and fly over 12 of the world-famous Nazca Lines. The duration of the flight was 90 mins long and all of us had window seats.
- From the region’s sandy soils comes the country’s best grapes, from which Piscos are made. the national drink of Peru is Pisco Sour.
- In Peru, the coca plant has been used for thousands of years in the Andean world, mainly for its medicinal properties and religious significance.
- Roasted guinea pig – Cuy – is the national dish of Peru. It is served whole with head and feet intact.
- Alpaca wool is of extremely high quality, and one of the most exclusive fibers in the world. Peru has the largest population of Alpacas.
- Nearly every weaving technique known today was invented by Peruvians.
- The official languages in Peru: Spanish and the two native languages- Quechua and Aymara.
- Since pre-Inca times, salt has been collected in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. People still mine salt in the way of the Incas. We saw different families dressed in traditional clothing and some in top hats sifting the water for salt.
Each family has their own salt pond that is managed by them and has been passed down to them for generations since the Inca times.
- In Lima we saw the “Magic Water Show”. This was 45 minutes long and was an exceptional display of waters choreographed to music. It featured computerized light designs displayed against the swinging and twirling waters from the fountains which are spread out over a large area in the park. Just lovely – do not miss this attraction.
- Peru used to be the world leader in exporting bird droppings. At one point in the mid-1800s, Peru was the world leader in terms of guano (bird droppings) production and export. Just like France and England, Peru saw the value of the guano as a natural fertilizer.
- We went to see Changing of the Guards at the Presidential Palace in Lima. It was nice with the beautiful Colonial place in the background. They play the band , the soldiers march around the front court while they change places, lasted for around half an hour.
- The World’s First Hanging Lodge is suspended on a rock face 1312 ft. above the Sacred Valley in Cusco, Peru. It is only accessible by climbing, hiking or zip lining.
- Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn. When you go to a market in Peru, you can just about find corn in any color including yellow, purple, white and black. We were amazed to see the size of the kernels they were so huge.
- The potato was first cultivated in the soils of the Andean highlands.
- Natives there still turn to a Shaman as a spiritual healer. Peru has second largest no. of Shamans in the world. We got to see a local Shaman perform a spiritual Ceremony sharing the Andean ritual and make offerings to Mother Earth.
We normally plan trips on our own. This one was through Gate1 since we liked their itinerary. After the trip we hired a private guide and car and visited Nazca Lines and Paracas as a 2-day extension on our own.
We visited number of towns and places in the trip. Will cover them along with the pictures in my next post Peru, the Land of Incas.