Bordered by five South American countries (Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, Brazil, and Chile) and the Pacific Ocean, Peru is a country rich in geographical, economic and cultural diversity. With mountain towns leading up to the Andes, a large seafaring culture relying primarily on fishing, and a friendly populace who favor music, food and various arts and crafts, Peru makes for an interesting, intellectual excursion filled with incredible vistas, great markets, Incan history and even some beach time. Late summer and fall deals are plentiful as tour operators look to fill post-summer travel slots.
Specials on airfare to Peru can be found at Intratours (tel. 800/334-8069; www.intratours.com). If you go right now during high season (which lasts until August 15), roundtrip air out of Miami into Lima will cost you $410. During the fall, or low season from August 16 to December 15, 2005, air starts at $385. From New York, fall travel costs $620. You can get good deals from Boston costing $583; Atlanta, $584; Houston, $586; and Los Angeles, $582. A weekend departure surcharge will apply and a Saturday night stay is mandatory.
For package deals, day tours and other excursions to Peru and once you've reached Peru, Analie Tours (tel. 800/811-6027; www.analietours.com) has several trips to choose from. A five-night air/land double occupancy "Inca Treasures" package leaving out of Miami for Lima that spends time in Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Pisac, Ollanta and Chinchero starts at $990. Departures out of New York start at $1,115. Single travelers out of New York should expect to pay $1,295. Out of Miami single vacationers will pay around $1,170. In Cuzco, your hotel is minutes from El Sol, the main thoroughfare. Other trip highlights include the Pisac market and the Ollantaytambo Fortress, an ancient Incan fort made up of terraces and plateaus that look out on the valley below.
A 10-night air/land "Mystic Peru Plus Amazon Adventure" that hits Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu and the Amazon, and includes three nights in the infamous Amazon, starts at $1,670 out of Miami and costs $1,870 from New York, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Francisco. No obligatory booking date is required for these trips that depart throughout the year. Expect some increase in price for travel during the summer or "high season."
In addition to their air/land packages, Analie Tours has several day, night, or couple of day trips to Peruvian sights. Among others, a half-day at the Gold Museum costs $60, a dinner at the Rosa Nautica costs $40, and a half-day private tour of the archeological museum costs $178.
Tourlite International (tel. 800/272-7600; www.tourlite.com), another established travel provider to South America, has an eleven-day nine-night air/land trip to Peru that covers the Incan trail from the Incan capital Cuzco to Macchu Pichu, the lost Incan city. Along the way, this tour spends two days and one night at Lake Titicaca, the rising place of the first Incan ancestors, who were allegedly the messengers of the Sun God sent to civilize the ancient Indians. In addition to Peru, this tour ends up at La Paz in Bolivia for a visit to the highest city in the world. Prices for this tour that departs on Thursday, Friday or Saturday starts at approximately $2,439 for moderate hotels with travel good from August 16 to December 9, 2005. As with all the tours listed here to Peru, air security taxes and departure fees are additional.
Two hints on Peruvian culture. Try an Inca Cola, a golden-colored bubble gum-tasting soft drink that outsells Coca-Cola in Peru. (Peru is one of the only countries in the world where that occurs. Not surprisingly, Coca-Cola bought Inca Cola in 1999.) Also, give a listen to the charango, Peru's national instrument. Shaped and sounding like a mandolin, the sweet sound of the charango was used to serenade woman, especially mythical mermaids, to lonely fisherman.
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