Ruta Sur: Paracas + Ica + Huacachina + Nazca
The peninsula Paracas was the middle of a pre-Incan culture that was famous because of their woven textiles.
The Ballestas-Islands in the natural reserve Paracas are also called little Galapagos Islands because of their animal diversity. It is the biotope of Humboldt penguins, dolphins, sea birds and sea lions. Another highlight is the giant candelabra that can only been seen looking from the sea.
Ica is the wine city of Peru. The famous production areas of Pisco Tacama and Ocucaje are also situated in the Ica-Valley. The national beverage Pisco has existed since more than 400 years and is mostly consumed as Pisco Sour. Because of the high percentage of sugar Pisco already contains more than 40 percent of alcohol after the first distillation.
Hucachina is a lagoon placed in the desert, where the trend sport “Sandboarding” is practised. The city of Nazca is famous because of the mysterious Nazca-Lines. Due to the giant dimensions of the lines they only can be observed looking down from a look-out or from a plane. The German Maria Reiche spent many years analysing the lines.
On the Lake Titicaca live the native communities of Uros located on a man-made floating island in the lake. The Uros people live totally interwoven with the "Totora" reed, which grows abundantly in the shallows of the lake. The islands are constructed from many layers of reeds, which rot away from the bottom and are replaced at the top.
On the isle Taquile knitting men can be seen. A breathtaking view overlooking Lake Titicaca from the highest point of the island can be guaranteed.
The isles Amanti and Capachica are known for the traditional way of living of their inhabitants away from the civilization of Puno.
Cuzco was the capital of the great Inca civilization from the 13th to the 15th century, when most of its amazing stone structures were built. According to legend, the first Inca Manco Capac, son of Inti, the Sun God, and his sister Mama Oclla founded the city. Nowadays Cuzco is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site. Sights are the Cathedral, situated on the Main Square of Cuzco Korikancha, the ancient Temple of the Sun, where the Spaniards built the Convent of Santo Domingo.
Not far away from Cuzco one can find the ruin Sasayhuaman, an Inka Fortress that was considered as impregnable, but was captured by the Spaniards in 1536. Until today a subsurface corridor that connects the Sacsayhuaman with the Koricancha sanctuary. The huge stone building blocks are very impressive.
Kenko was a cult site of the Incas. The „Red Fortress” Puca Pucara ist strategically placed in the entrance of the Urubamba Valley; and the springs of the ruins Tambo Machay possibly were a water sanctuary.
Pisaq is situated in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It is famous because of the Indian market that takes place in the town. Ollantaytambo is also a beautiful little town and at the same time one of the most important Inca sites of Peru. This city or fortress was never completed. The Fortress of Ollantaytambo will impress you not only by its buildings and temples, but also by its spectacular terraces and unique views to the Urubamba valley.
Maras is a complex of hundred´s of little basins, formed as terraces. They capture the highly salt containing water of a nearby spring. The mines have been used for salt extraction since the time of the Inkas. The first layer is used for consume, the second one for therapeutic usage and the third one for the animals. Each basin produces 60 kg salt in a month and is “harvested” one day a month.
Moray is an impressive place of a different nature. It is a botanic laboratory because of the different microclimates. Therefore the Inkas could cultivate a variety of plants within little space and which normally grow in the most distinctive climate zones. The temperature disparity of two terraces is up to 3°C. Surprisingly the round terraces are still intact. You will also visit the magnificient ruins of Ollantaytambo. You will spend the night in the Sacred Valley.
Machu Picchu is the Must-See of every Peru-trip. Machu Picchu is one of the most important archaeological marvels of the world. This Inca city was abandoned after the arrival of the Spaniards, who never discovered it, buried in the jungle for centuries and unknown to the western world until Hiram Bingham’s expedition in 1911. The entire archaeological complex is remarkably well preserved with its sections, temples, squares and other structures built in complete harmony with nature. Some of the most important places to visit are: the Temple of the Sun, the Sacred Plaza, the Temple of the Three Windows, the so-called Sacristy and the Intihuatana, a carved rock pillar used for astronomical purposes, which is the major shrine of Machu Picchu. Its astonishing location on a mountain with steep terraced slopes falling away to the Urubamba River, which flows far below in the canyon, lets the visitor witness unforgettable sights.
Manu-the very word has become synonymous with the best rain forest in the world. The protected areas of the great Manu wilderness have become world famous because of their unspoiled rain forest and amazing wildlife. Manu protects more species of animals and plants than any other park on Earth. The Manu National Park contains 1,000 species of birds, or one out of every nine on Earth, and 200 more than the U.S. and Canada combined. Approximately 550 bird species occur within a few square miles of lowland forest. Try a short visit to the spectacular lowland forest of Manu to see the world's best rain forest wildlife, including the world's most approachable, photographable macaw clay lick.
Also featured are the biggest clay lick of South America's largest land animal--the 600-pound (250 kilo) Lowland Tapir, playful Giant Otters, Jaguars, and ten species of monkeys, including the amazing mustachioed Emperor Tamarin.
The Tambopata-Madidi reserve contains areas of Peru and Bolivia. Bolivia’s Madidi National Park totals 18,900 sq. km./7,297 sq. miles, while the adjacent reserves of Tambopata-Candamo and Bahuaja-Sonene across the border in Peru add up to more than 13,700 sq. km./5,290 sq. miles. Taken together, they form the second largest, and by far the most biologically diverse nature conservation area in all of South America.