Peru is a country of immense cultural and geographical diversity. As the heartland of the mighty Incan Empire, Peru boasts a rich history and has many claims to fame spanning famous landmarks, iconic cuisine, textiles, people, and wildlife. Keep reading to discover exactly what has put Peru on the map.
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Peru is Famous for its Landmarks
Peru offers intrepid travelers the chance to explore world-renowned landmarks and ancient mysteries that have captivated people for centuries.
No list of Peru’s famous attractions is complete without the Lost City of the Incas. Machu Picchu is a perfectly preserved 15th-century Incan citadel in the Andes mountains. Over 1 million people visit Peru annually to marvel at this archeological wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site, which ranks amongst the New 7 Wonders of the World.
The Nazca Lines
Another quintessential Peru experience is to see the enigmatic Nazca Lines etched into the desert plains in southern Peru. These puzzling geoglyphs depicting animals, plants, and geometric figures stretch over 50 miles and date back around 2000 years. The best views are from scenic flights, so visitors can fully appreciate these cryptic carvings’ true artistry and scale.
A relative newcomer to Peru’s Hall of Fame is Vinicunca, colorfully known as Rainbow Mountain. As the ice thawed in recent years, a colorful wonderland of red, gold, purple, turquoise, and green mineral stripes was revealed. The demanding one-day hike to reach the 5,200m summit offers 360° vistas over the surrounding Andes mountains that seem too vivid to be accurate.
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia lies the world’s highest navigable lake. As well as arresting views of the Cordillera Blanca, Lake Titicaca offers visitors the chance to meet locals and explore sites of great historical significance to the Incas. A trip to the floating islands made from totara reeds is a highlight.
Top Peru Famous Food to Try
Over recent years, Peruvian cuisine has taken the gastronomy world by storm, garnering global acclaim for its bold fusion of flavors and impressive diversity. Trying some of Peru’s most famous dishes should be on every food-loving traveler’s bucket list.
You can’t visit Peru without sampling ceviche, the national dish, and easily the country’s most renowned recipe globally. This bright, zingy raw fish ‘cooked’ in citrus juice makes the perfect light lunch and showcases the super-fresh seafood found along Peru’s Pacific coastline.
For the more daring culinary adventurer, trying cuy (guinea pig) is a rite of passage in Peru. While eating a furry pet may seem strange to foreigners, cuy has been an Andean delicacy and a vital source of protein for centuries. Slow-roasted curry with potato and rice side dishes is standard.
Excellent, refreshing pisco sour cocktails are synonymous with Peru’s lively bar scene. They’re wonderfully moreish and made from grape brandy, fresh lime juice, syrup, egg whites, and bitters. Ica is the best place to tour bodegas and see how the iconic Peruvian spirit is crafted.
These bite-sized beef heart skewers seasoned with garlic and spices make tasty street snacks. Anticuchos de lomo (beef tenderloin skewers) are also popular and easier on squeamish stomachs. They’re best enjoyed with a cold beer in the evening when vendor carts line the sidewalks of cities like Cusco.
Peru is Known for its Iconic Animals
From dancing hummingbirds to lumbering bears, Peru’s wealth of endemic and native wildlife never fails to impress. Visitors should keep their eyes peeled when exploring Peru’s diverse landscapes to spot unique creatures.
Alpacas and Llamas
No round-up of Peru’s famous animals is complete without mentioning camelids, specifically llamas and their fluffier relatives, alpacas. These iconic creatures are woven into the country’s past and present, valued for centuries for wool, meat, labor, and companionship. They roam the plateaus and punas in herds and make picture-perfect photography models against epic mountain backdrops.
The rare Andean spectacled bear is the only bear species native to South America. Around 500 remain in Peru’s northern cloud forests. If lucky, you might glimpse one ambling through the treeline or spot paw prints and claw marks on tree trunks. Many rescued orphan cubs that can’t survive alone in the wild reside in animal sanctuaries.
Pink River Dolphins
One of the Amazon’s more elusive and mystical residents is the pink boto dolphin found in river systems and lakes. Spending time in the Peruvian jungle provides travelers the opportunity to marvel at these unique freshwater creatures with humped backs and prolonged snouts if they surface. Seeing pods leap and chase fish is unforgettable.
Famous Peru Textiles
Textiles hold great social, cultural, and spiritual significance for Peruvian communities. Centuries-old weaving traditions endure, with items still made using ancestral techniques and designs. Here are some examples of Peru’s famous fabrics.
Alpaca Wool Items
Luxuriously soft, durable, and sustainable alpaca wool is prized for its exceptional properties that lend themselves perfectly to knitting apparel and homeware. Peruvian alpaca clothing and accessories like scarves, sweaters, blankets, and baby booties make sought-after gifts and souvenirs.
Traditional Ponchos & Attire
Another famous Peruvian export is the classic runakuna poncho with Pre-Colombian motifs. During your travels, locals from communities like Chinchero wear beautifully embroidered pollera skirts, intricate belts, and straw hats typical of traditional regional dress.
Each area has distinctive clothing styles, fabrics, colors, and patterns. For instance, the Dance of the Scissors held during the June Fiestas de San Juan celebrates the ceremonial costumes of Puno.
Peru Landmarks FAQs
How old are the Nazca Lines, and what purpose did they serve?
The earliest Nazca Lines date back over 2000 years to 500-200 BC. Archaeologists believe they had ritual astronomical functions for ancient civilizations like the Paracas and Nazca, who inhabited the region. Some figures may also relate to sources of water and fertility. Their exact purpose remains subject to speculation, though, given the secret died with their creators.
Why was Machu Picchu built?
Machu Picchu was constructed around 1450 AD as a royal estate for Incan Emperor Pachacuti. Its remote and defendable location in the Andes suggests it was also built as a sanctuary and citadel away from the Spanish threat. There is also evidence it was created for astronomical observations and to honor sacred landscape features.
How long does it take to hike to Rainbow Mountain?
The return hike to Rainbow Mountain’s 5,200m summit takes about 6 hours from the trailhead near Cusco. Setting off very early means you’ll reach the peak for sunrise when glowing colors are at their best. Don’t underestimate the altitude, though – come prepared for rugged terrain and cold.
Which animals live in Lake Titicaca?
Over 500 aquatic species inhabit Lake Titicaca. Numerous endangered endemic species like the Titicaca grebe, Titicaca orestias, and frogs are found nowhere else on Earth. More common sights on boat trips include ducks and rare black swans gliding across the surface. Watch below the surface for giant water snakes called Titicaca over 1m long!
We hope this comprehensive guide has shed light on what Peru is renowned for across various captivating categories. The country offers immense scenic and cultural allure for adventure travelers who want vacations brimming with wow-factor experiences and iconic bucket list moments. Whether it’s magnificent Machu Picchu, culinary masterpieces, or colorful textile traditions, Peru’s claims to fame promise to educate and inspire.