As one of the New Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular archeological attractions in Peru and South America. However, there are several lesser-known sites found throughout the country, showcasing the rich history of the Inca and civilizations beyond. Experiential travel in Peru opens your eyes to the mysteries of many ancient sites and Ker & Downey’s Best of Peru luxury travel adventure guides you through the wonders of these hidden gems, abundant in culture and heritage.
The fascinating Uros Islands are completely man-made and resemble huge floating rafts made of reeds. Quechua-speaking natives continue to maintain these floating structures as they have since pre-Columbian times, using totora reeds collected from the lake. They call themselves “kot-suña”, or people of the lake, claiming to have “black blood” that makes them immune to the often frigid temperatures. They consider themselves the protectors of the lake and its waters.
Just outside the city of Cusco there exist several historic sites. Built by the pre-Incan Killke culture, the walls of Sacsayhuaman are a testament to amazing ancient architecture. The massive stones are placed with such precision that a single sheet of paper will not fit between them. During the era of Spanish colonization, many blocks were removed to construct new buildings – visitors will notice the walls are in pristine condition, but abruptly stop at a certain height. Tambomachay, commonly called the Incan baths, contains a series of canals and waterfalls that once flowed through the terraces and rocky structures. The site is thought to have been an ancient spa resort for the Inca elite. The walls of Puca Pucara are all that remains of this Inca military outpost, which also served as an administrative center. Sunset tints the stone walls a stunning shade of red, earning the site the nickname of “the red fortress.”
The Sacred Valley
Ollantaytambo was constructed just as the Spanish arrived and the distinct pre-Hispanic architectural style of its streets and squares remains. A mountain rises from the modern-day town where numerous pre-Hispanic constructions can be found, including superb temples and terraces. Scholars and archaeologists consider Ollantaytambo to be a living museum: after visiting the ruins of the past, visitors are able to stroll along the avenues of the quaint town of the present. These narrow streets have been inhabited continuously since the time of the Incas.
Though perhaps not as prominent as Machu Picchu, these ancient sites are no less fascinating. Their beauties and mysteries are yours to discover in the capable hands of our South American travel experts. Luxury travel to Peru is effortless with Ker & Downey as your guide – start planning your escape with us.