Vacation in Peru: much more than Cusco and Machu Picchu
The central "trilogy" of so many years for tourism in Peru (Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu) is no longer such. The Andean country has now greatly expanded its offerings and tourists have added to the traditional circuit the beaches of the north, famous among surfers (especially in the department of Piura) and those of the south (very close to Lima), in addition to the Inca citadels of Kuelap and Choquequirao and the impressive Amazon jungle, with the city of Iquitos as its main base.
"The destinations that are being developed the most, with hotels and infrastructure, are now those in the south that are complementary to Cusco, such as Arequipa, Puno and also Ica, a beach destination very close to Lima that is very common as a convention destination," Sandra Doig, assistant director of Inbound Tourism for PromPerú, told Viajes. The bus from Lima to Ica takes just over 4 hours and the fare starts at US$ 11.
Playa La Mina, Paracas, Ica, Peru
The official also highlighted new investments in the north of the country, especially in the area of Iquitos (province of Loreto), with Amazon cruises and lodges in the heart of the jungle. "There is already an interesting number of Argentines who are arriving at the northern beaches, and now we are promoting Iquitos, in Loreto, which, like Trujillo and Pisco, already has direct flights from Cusco, which makes internal mobility much easier," she said. A flight from Lima to Piura by Viva Air costs US$ 64, and a direct return flight between Cusco and Iquitos, by Latam, costs US$ 156.
Among the attractions of the jungle, Doig cited its unique flavors - tacacho with cecina, chaufa rice from the Amazon and a great diversity of exotic fruits, such as camu camu - and its varied fauna. To tour the area, there are various proposals for cruises from Iquitos. One of them is the Amazon Discovery, with a 4 days / 3 nights tour that includes reception in the city, city tour, navigation with meals included in Itaya, Amazon, Tahuayo, Yarapa, Piranha Caño rivers, visit to Santa Ana native community and excursions in the jungle. The rate starts at US$ 1,700 per person.
Aria Amazon Riverboat, Peru
From the Andes to the beaches
Last year Peru surpassed four million tourists (7.7% more than in 2016) and set a record for the arrival of Argentineans, which was one of the markets that grew the most: 205,465 tourists from our country entered, 17.7% more than the previous year. "In addition, the Argentine tourist is staying a little longer - 10 days on average - and spending a little more: $263, not counting the ticket," said Doig.
Accessible internal prices and improved connectivity are key to this performance, according to the official. "We have 84 weekly flights between both countries, and there are already direct connections from six destinations in Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rosario, Córdoba, Mendoza, Tucumán and Salta), so now what we are looking for is to make the great diversity that Peru offers better known. We have the Andes and the Inca legacy, but also beautiful beaches and a very diverse jungle. In fact, a few kilometers from Cusco is the department of Madre de Dios, a great jungle where you can find typical animals," he said.
The destinations in Peru that have grown the most in Argentine tourists are mainly the beaches in the north and south (Piura and Ica), and also Arequipa and Nazca. Partly as a result of actions to disseminate the Pisco Route, the dunes where sandboarding is practiced and the Paracas National Reserve, some 4 hours south of Lima. The tour of the reserve (3 hours) costs US$ 20 per person, and the navigation to the nearby Ballestas Islands (2 hours), US$ 25. The 30-minute flight over the Nazca lines costs US$ 85 per passenger.
Nazca Lines in Peru
In Mancora, one of the most popular beaches in the north, three-star hotels start at US$ 60 and bungalows start at US$ 35. Surfing lessons start at US$ 15 per person. Another fact that drives the southern circuit is the inauguration of the luxury train between Cusco and Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca and near Arequipa.
Lima, destination of escapes and flavors
Curiously, Lima is also a destination that has grown a lot in tourist arrivals and longer stays, especially for its great gastronomic proposal, complemented by an increasing offer of activities, such as admiring the famous Peruvian Paso horses, visiting the ruins of Pachacamac, paragliding over the sea or enjoying emblematic and bohemian neighborhoods like Barranco, full of bars, restaurants and art galleries.
"More and more people from Latin America are coming to Lima for the weekend, to eat delicious food and do some activity or visit nearby destinations, like Ica. In Lima there are now many things to do, of wide interest, even shopping, because it has several new shopping centers with the main world brands," explained Sandra Doig.
In Peru, the food is not only good, but also economical: a dish in a popular, good-quality restaurant starts at US$4; a soft drink starts at US$0.60. In addition, the urban bus ticket barely exceeds US$ 0.30, and tickets to museums are around US$ 2.50.