Travel in Latin America
Peru is a coastal, mountainous, jungle country of 30 million people and 11 UNESCO world heritage sites. From ancient Machu Picchu developed by the Incas to modern Lima, with its Spanish colonial district, this country has many charms. When to visit depends on the focus of your trip and festivals you want to enjoy.
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Machu Picchu draws about 1,000 visitors daily, in spite of its breathtaking elevation. November, December and January are the rainy season in the highlands and mountains, but that does not keep visitors away. For people who choose to hike the Inca Trail, June, July and August are better months, as the trail is not so muddy. The trail cannot be hiked without a guide.
The Inca capital of Cuzco has a huge solstice ceremony on June 24, to celebrate the return of the sun. Because Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere, this is its winter season. The Incas were amazing agriculturalists; they developed 4,000 different types of potatoes. That is why the sun was so important to them. The celebration is a continuation of a centuries-old Inca tradition.
Lima was the Spanish capital of Peru and is still its capital today. November, December and January are its summer months, when flowers are in profusion. On Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, couples have a contest to see who can maintain the pose of kissing the longest. The couples are copying the pose of a famous statue at the beach in the Miraflores neighborhood.
At the end of October or first of November, a 24-hour procession goes through Lima. Señor de los Milagros may be the largest procession in Latin America, with tens of thousands taking part.
The Nazca Lines are in the desert south of Lima and are as yet unexplained. They can be seen best from the air, and any time of year would be good to visit them. This area of desert has had 11 inches of rain in 20 years.
About 54 percent of the people in Peru are poor, and some make a living by theft. Experienced travelers and Peruvians alike arrange for someone who will meet them INSIDE the airport and take them directly to their destination. Arrange for lodging before you get there. The hostel or hotel's owner will be glad to hire a guide for you, and the guide can help make all the arrangements for additional tours and get you there safely. The guide will also tell you current conditions about the safety of taxis and other forms of transportation. Paying this guide a handsome fee is important.