If you are planning a trip to South America and are a lover of history and ancient cultures, Peru must be on your agenda. There is so much to see and do that most visitors have to pick and choose what they want to experience. There are companies happy to create a Machu Picchu tour package that fits your interests, time constraints, and budget.

Flying into Lima, the capital of Peru, is usually the first stop on one of these trips. If you have a day before you fly to Cuzco, you should see as much of Lima as possible. It has survived colonial and Republican periods, and some of that time is still in evidence at the Plaza de Armas. The palace and cathedral believed to house Pizarro’s remains is located here. Tourists with a weakness for jewelry will love the Gold Museum with its extensive collections.

Your next stop may be Cuzco where the ChocoMuseo is a must visit for tourists with a sweet tooth. You can learn how chocolate is made here and even try your hand at making some yourself. The Museo de Arte Precolombino has a wonderful collection of artifacts gathered from all over Peru.

It will take about a day to visit the Sacred Valley and the Incan ruins at Chinchero. The agricultural terraces found in Ollantaytambo are surprisingly interesting. You won’t want to miss the Pisco’s famous market where you can haggle for bargains.

Hardy souls, with plenty of time, often decide to hike the Inca Trail. It begins in the Sacred Valley and ends at the Gate of the Sun. Local guides take guests up the Andes, which can take anywhere from three to five days. They point out the amazing colored moss and wild orchids along the way. Visitors spend the nights at the campground accommodations.

Of course, you can choose to take a breathtaking train ride up the Andes to the ancient city. Once there you should definitely see what many consider the three most significant sites, the Room of 3 Windows, the Sun Stone, and the Sun Temple. Guides describe the ruined city’s former glory with its temples, lavish royal palaces, and astronomy observatories.

Although this should be the centerpiece of your vacation, there are wonderful side trips for those who have the time. Titicaca Lake is one of them. It is the largest body of water in South America and borders both Peru and Bolivia. You can visit the Uros, which are tiny floating islands, and take a ride in one of the reed boats used by the natives of this region.

For lovers of history, culture, and archeology, the Lost City is the destination of a lifetime. It is difficult to believe the ingenuity and creativity that must have thrived in this ancient civilization. This is a trip to be treasured and remembered for a very long time.

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