Peru in 100 pictures: A journey through the ‘land of abundance’

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Peru — a word meaning “land of abundance” in the Andean language of Quechua — remains true to its namesake. Abundant in culture, color and – in a more literal sense – a seemingly endless patchwork of terraced agricultural land, this South American country begs you to explore its spiritual locales, adventure opportunities and storied past.

Start in Lima and make an almost-circle counterclockwise around the southern portion of the country — a common route for tourists — and you’ll travel a path that saves the best for last, ending at one of the most iconic, spectacular places in the world: Machu Picchu. When you enter Machu Picchu and the ruins you’ve been looking at for so long (only on the pages of textbooks) come into view — framed by Wayna Picchu and completely surrounded by lush mountains — your heart skips a beat.

But in the lead up to that magical moment (and believe me, it is truly magical), Peru dishes out plenty of other captivating stops and experiences along the way. Take this photographic journey through one of South America’s most vibrant countries (and snag a few Peru tips along the way)…and check out our #PeruInstagramTakeover happening Tuesday, Oct. 28 over @Cheapflights!

Arequipa

Where to stay:

  • La Casa de Melgar: This cool, centrally located hotel is a former bishop’s house and features interesting architecture and pretty outdoor courtyards.

What to do:

  • Visit Santa Catalina Monastery
  • Try some local Peruvian dishes (and the sangria) at Sol de Mayo
  • Relax in the main square at sunset
Arequipa's main square (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Arequipa’s main square (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa in the Plaza de Armas (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa in the Plaza de Armas (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Confessional at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Confessional at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Part of the old kitchen at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Part of the old kitchen at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
View of Arequipa from the highest point at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
View of Arequipa from the highest point at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Old washing basins where laundry was done at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Old washing basins where laundry was done at the Santa Catalina Monastery (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Hotel room at La Casa de Melgar (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Hotel room at La Casa de Melgar (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Courtyard at La Casa de Melgar (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Courtyard at La Casa de Melgar (Image: Melisse Hinkle)

Yanque and the Colca Valley

Where to stay:

  • Killawasi Lodge: Gorgeous mountain views, relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and an on-site restaurant with delicious food.

What to do:

  • On your way from Arequipa to the Colca Valley, take in the sights: the volcanoes, vicuñas, llamas, alpacas and landscape
  • Stop at a lookout in Achoma on your way up to Colca Canyon to take in the views
  • Spend some time at Cruz del Condor and try to catch a glimpse of the second-largest flying bird in the world with a wing span that is often more than 10 feet across
  • Walk along the rim of the stunning Colca Canyon
  • Trek through the Colca Valley
  • Enjoy a dip in the hot springs
On the road from Arequipa heading toward the Colca Valley (Image: Pearse Lombard)
On the road from Arequipa heading toward the Colca Valley (Image: Pearse Lombard)
On the road, heading to the Colca Valley (Image: Pearse Lombard)
On the road, heading to the Colca Valley (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The 'circle of life': A pilgrimage through Peru 11
A vicuña (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The 'circle of life': A pilgrimage through Peru 12
Vicuñas (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Llama crossing! (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Llama crossing! (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Vicuñas on the run (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Vicuñas on the run (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The 'circle of life': A pilgrimage through Peru 16
Hello! (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Llamas and alpacas graze along the side of the road (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Llamas and alpacas graze along the side of the road (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Roadside Peruvian knits for sale (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Roadside Peruvian knits for sale (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A little lamb rests on a pile of Peruvian knits (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A little lamb rests on a pile of Peruvian knits (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The highest point along the way from Arequipa to the Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The highest point along the way from Arequipa to the Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The highest point along the way from Arequipa to the Colca Valley -- more than 16,000 feet in elevation (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The highest point along the way from Arequipa to the Colca Valley — more than 16,000 feet in elevation (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Downtown Yanque, featuring celebrations and traditional dancing in the lead up to the Peruvian elections (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Downtown Yanque, featuring celebrations and traditional dancing in the lead up to the Peruvian elections (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Candidate posters for Peru's elections (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Candidate posters for Peru’s elections (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Mountain view from downtown Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Mountain view from downtown Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A dog rests on the side of a street in Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A dog rests on the side of a street in Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Terraced agricultural land in the Colca Valley (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Terraced agricultural land in the Colca Valley (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Achoma (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Achoma (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The beautiful Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The beautiful Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The beginning of Colca Canyon in the distance (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The beginning of Colca Canyon in the distance (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Colca Canyon (Melisse Hinkle)
Colca Canyon (Melisse Hinkle)
Colca Canyon (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Colca Canyon (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Sign marking the condor lookout (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Sign marking the condor lookout (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A condor flies through Colca Canyon (Image: Pearse Lombard)
A condor flies through Colca Canyon (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Colca Canyon (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Colca Canyon (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Trekking through the area surrounding Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Trekking through the area surrounding Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A volcano erupts in the distance (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A volcano erupts in the distance (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
"Colca" means storage, and these vessels situated along steep rock faces in the Colca Valley are called "colcas" as they were used to store items during pre-Inca times (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
“Colca” means storage, and these vessels situated along steep rock faces in the Colca Valley are called “colcas” as they were used to store items during pre-Inca times (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A rainbow eucalyptus tree (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A rainbow eucalyptus tree (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Quinoa, a popular crop in this area, grows in the Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Quinoa, a popular crop in this area, grows in the Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The end of the trek -- crossing this swaying rope bridge single file in the dark! (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The end of the trek — crossing this swaying rope bridge single file in the dark! (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Killawasi Lodge (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Killawasi Lodge (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The entrance to Killawasi Lodge (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The entrance to Killawasi Lodge (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Hotel room at Killawasi Lodge in Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Hotel room at Killawasi Lodge in Yanque (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The view from a junior suite at Killawasi Lodge in Yanque (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The view from a junior suite at Killawasi Lodge in Yanque (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Nothing like a nap in one of the hammocks at Killawasi Lodge looking out at the mountains of the Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Nothing like a nap in one of the hammocks at Killawasi Lodge looking out at the mountains of the Colca Valley (Image: Melisse Hinkle)

Puno, Lake Titicaca and the Uros Floating Islands

Where to stay:

  • Tierra Viva Puno Plaza: Centrally located and the staff is very helpful

What to do:

  • See Lake Titicaca
  • Take a boat out to the Uros Floating Islands and see how the inhabitants of these islands live
  • Visit Yavari (you can even stay overnight aboard this ship)
Heading out onto Lake Titicaca (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Heading out onto Lake Titicaca (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The Uros Floating Islands in the distance (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The Uros Floating Islands in the distance (Image: Pearse Lombard)
One of more than 40 Uros Floating Islands -- made entirely of reeds (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
One of more than 40 Uros Floating Islands — made entirely of reeds (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A photo pilgrimage through Peru 45
A reed from the Uros Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca. The islands’ inhabitants use these reeds for everything — they even eat them, peeling the skin back similar to a banana. (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Inside one of the homes on the Uros Floating Islands (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Inside one of the homes on the Uros Floating Islands (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Rowing over to the capital of the Uros Floating Islands (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Rowing over to the capital of the Uros Floating Islands (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The capital of the Uros Floating Islands (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The capital of the Uros Floating Islands (Image: Pearse Lombard)
A reed boat used for transportation between islands (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A reed boat used for transportation between islands (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Aboard Yavari, a ship that was transported in pieces from England to Peru in the 1860s and reassembled on Lake Titicaca (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Aboard Yavari, a ship that was transported in pieces from England to Peru in the 1860s and reassembled on Lake Titicaca (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Yavari (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Yavari (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Aboard Yavari (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Aboard Yavari (Image: Melisse Hinkle)

Cusco

Where to stay:

  • Hotel Casona Les Pleiades: Quiet, clean, situated on a quaint cobblestone walkway and just a short walk from the main square

What to do:

  • Take a free walking tour of the city
  • Duck in and out of the markets to find tons of Peruvian goods for purchase
  • Grab drinks in the main square
  • Visit the San Pedro market and order some freshly squeezed juice
The main square in Cusco (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The main square in Cusco (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Cusco's main square (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cusco’s main square (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The streets of Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out over part of Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out over part of Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cusco's San Pedro market (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cusco’s San Pedro market (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cusco's main square at night (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cusco’s main square at night (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out at Cusco from a room at Casona Les Pleiades (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out at Cusco from a room at Casona Les Pleiades (Image: Melisse Hinkle)

The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Where to stay:

  • Casa Andina Luxury in Aguas Calientes: Just ask for a room toward the back of the hotel as the train tracks are out front.
  • The Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu: Very pricey, but if you can swing it, it’s worth it. This is the only hotel located up at Machu Picchu.

What to do:

  • Leave Cusco and venture through the Sacred Valley
  • Visit the Inca ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo
  • Explore the Pisac market and pick up any Peruvian goods
  • Adventure seekers can do one of several treks (including the famous Inca Trail) ending at Machu Picchu (just book ahead with the tour companies as the treks can fill up months in advance)
  • Take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and stay there for the night
  • Take the first bus (or walk if you’re brave) from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu to see the sunrise — make sure you get your entry tickets to Machu Picchu in Aguas Calientes before getting on the bus
  • Tour Machu Picchu and hike up to the Sun Gates
  • Just relax in Machu Picchu and soak up this spectacular place
Looking out onto the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out onto the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Gazing out from the Inca ruins of Pisac (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Gazing out from the Inca ruins of Pisac (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out from the Inca ruins of Pisac (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Looking out from the Inca ruins of Pisac (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Incredible stonework at the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Incredible stonework at the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo (Image: Pearse Lombard)
The Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out from the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking out from the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Entering Machu Picchu (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Entering Machu Picchu (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The Sun Temple at Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The Sun Temple at Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Between the ruins -- looking out at the mountains from the ruins of Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Between the ruins — looking out at the mountains from the ruins of Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Botanic garden in Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Botanic garden in Machu Picchu (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The Temple of Three Portals, representing the sky, the Earth and inner life (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The Temple of Three Portals, representing the sky, the Earth and inner life (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Intipunku, also known as The Sun Gates of Machu Picchu. Inca Trail hikers end up at these gates before entering Machu Picchu. (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Intipunku, also known as The Sun Gates of Machu Picchu. Inca Trail hikers end up at these gates before entering Machu Picchu. (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Hiking down from the Sun Gate, looking down on Machu Picchu (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Hiking down from the Sun Gate, looking down on Machu Picchu (Image: Pearse Lombard)
One of the many llamas of Machu Picchu (Image: Pearse Lombard)
One of the many llamas of Machu Picchu (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Spectacular... (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Spectacular… (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The sun shines down on the ruins (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The sun shines down on the ruins (Image: Melisse Hinkle)

Food and drink in Peru

Food and drinks to try:

  • Guinea pig — tastes very similar to chicken, but is quite stringy and difficult to eat
  • Alpaca — somewhere between beef and pork in texture and taste
  • Pisco sour — the national drink of Peru
  • A reed from the Uros Floating Islands — somewhere between a banana and celery stalk in texture with almost no taste
  • Ceviche — raw fish cured in lemon or lime juice
  • Coca tea — made with coca leaves, which are said to help curb altitude sickness
  • Quinoa — a common crop in the Colca Valley
  • Corn — there are 52 types grown in Peru
  • Onions — grown in Arequipa

Restaurants to check out:

  • Sol de Mayo in Arequipa
  • The restaurant at Killawasi Lodge in Yanque
  • Cafe-Bar de la Casa Del Corregidor in Puno
  • Norton’s Pub in Cusco for a beer and some people watching
  • Jack’s Cafe in Cusco for some American food
  • Pachapapa in Cusco
  • Tanta in Lima
  • La Barra Casa Moreyra in Lima
Fried guinea pig (a delicacy in Peru) at Sol de Mayo outside Arequipa (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Fried guinea pig (a delicacy in Peru) at Sol de Mayo outside Arequipa (Image: Pearse Lombard)
Tea made with a mix of herbs native to Peru, including coca leaves which are reportedly good for alleviating altitude sickness (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Tea made with a mix of herbs native to Peru, including coca leaves which are reportedly good for alleviating altitude sickness (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Alpaca steak over pasta (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Alpaca steak over pasta (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A pisco tasting: Four different types of pisco topped off by a Peruvian classic: a pisco sour (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
A pisco tasting: Four different types of pisco topped off by a Peruvian classic: a pisco sour (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Sol de Mayo -- a restaurant just outside the city center of Arequipa (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Sol de Mayo — a restaurant just outside the city center of Arequipa (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cafe-Bar de la Casa Del Corregidor, Puno, Peru (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Cafe-Bar de la Casa Del Corregidor, Puno, Peru (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Entrance to Cafe-Bar de la Casa Del Corregidor, Puno, Peru (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Entrance to Cafe-Bar de la Casa Del Corregidor, Puno, Peru (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The long line of juice stands at San Pedro market in Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
The long line of juice stands at San Pedro market in Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Beers at Norton's Pub in Cusco's main square -- a great people watching spot! (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Beers at Norton’s Pub in Cusco’s main square — a great people watching spot! (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking for a taste of American food in Cusco? Head to Jack's Cafe. (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Looking for a taste of American food in Cusco? Head to Jack’s Cafe. (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Pachapapa -- great spot for a little more of an upscale dining experience in Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
Pachapapa — great spot for a little more of an upscale dining experience in Cusco (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
La Barra Casa Moreyra (Image: Melisse Hinkle)
La Barra Casa Moreyra (Image: Melisse Hinkle)

(Main image: Pearse Lombard)

Peru in 100 pictures: A journey through the ‘land of abundance’ was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Melisse Hinkle
Author: Melisse Hinkle (271 posts)

A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has traveled throughout North America, biked through rice paddies in Bali, seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, walked alongside llamas in Machu Picchu and made her way around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Head of Content and Social Media for North America at Cheapflights.