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2013 and earlier

Peru: a beginner's guide

Top five attractions 
  • Machu Picchu, whether by train, trek or bus.
  • Iquitos and the Upper Amazon river.
  • The archaeological site of Chan Chan, including the ruins of the largest adobe city in the world.
  • The high peaks of the Cordillera Blanca to see tropical glaciers and turquoise lakes on off-the-beaten-track hikes.
  • The mysterious, geometrical Nazca Lines, thought to have been etched into the stony desert as far back as 900BC.

Best city 
Cusco, because, despite being backpackers-ville, it has many impressive monasteries, churches and pre-Columbian buildings and is, as Che Guevara recorded in The Motorcycle Diaries, tangibly "the navel of the [Inca] world".

Souvenir to buy 
A bottle of finest pisco, the national firewater.

Quirky Peru 
Peru is famous for having its own cola drink, Inka Cola – often put forward as proof of an independent spirit and anti-Americanism. Unfortunately though, the firm that produces the bright yellow drink is unfortunately part-owned by Coca-Cola.

Read 
Hugh Thomson's ‘The White Rock’, which deftly combines a history of the last days of the Incas with a gripping story about the search for lost cities buried in uncharted corners of the Sacred Valley.

Chris Moss, Travel Journalist

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