Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and to celebrate the beginning of the festive season, we’re bringing you the “Mercury Holidays’ 12 Destinations Advent Calendar” – every day we’ll be taking a look at a top destination and what makes it the perfect place to visit with family, friends or enjoy a little you time.
So, let’s take a peek behind our final door…
Peru and Mercury Holidays’ Escorted Tours
Complex, historic and intriguing are just three words that can be used to describe Peru – from the breath-taking Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and unexplained mystery of The Nazca Lines, to Andahuayillas– ‘The Sistine Chapel of America and Paracas, where you’ll find stunning waterside dunes; this country is every explorers’ dream!
Advent Calendar Fact: The Incan Empire was larger than imperial Rome at its peak. It included 24,855 miles of roads and relied on a network of chasquis (runners) to keep the kingdom connected.
Beginning with the truly incredible Machu Picchu, this ancient Inca ruin is located approximately 50 miles northwest of Cusco in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains. One of the few pre-Columbian ruins found pretty much intact and sitting an astonishing 7,927 feet above sea level, this location was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1983.
Not only is Machu Picchu an astonishing place of beauty, its past is also extremely intriguing; historians believe Machu Picchu was built during the peak of the Inca Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th Centuries. Furthermore, historians believe that the site was deserted roughly 100 years after its construction due to a smallpox epidemic, which also coincided with the Spanish beginning their conquest of the pre-Colombian civilisation in the 1530s. However, no evidence has ever been found to support any theory that the conquistadors ever attacked or reached the citadel.
Declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu is the country’s most visited attraction and welcomes hundreds of thousands of people every year. Due to increased tourism, the development of nearby towns and environmental degradation continue to take their toll on the site, which is also home to several endangered species. As a result, the Peruvian government has taken steps to protect the ruins and prevent erosion of the mountainside in recent years.
Advent Calendar Fact: The Incas spoke a language called Quechua, which many people still speak today. Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak” when translated from Quechua into English.
Next on the list of amazing places to visit in Peru are The Nazca Lines, located about 250 miles south of Lima. Depicting various plants, animals and shapes; these 2,000 year-old Nazca Lines can only be truly appreciated when viewed from above. With more than 800 straights lines (some of which are over 30 miles long) and 300 geometric designs, these mysterious etchings still have no story of origin. From theories of aliens, astronomical purposes and many more; these lines have been the centre of conspiracy theories for many years; however, a more realistic explanation has been proposed. Recent research has suggested that these lines relate to water, but not in terms of irrigation or a guide for water; rather as part of a ritual to the gods in an effort to bring much-needed rain.
Advent Calendar Fact: The largest figures are up to 370 meters long. Other figures include the hummingbird at 93 metres long, the condor is 134 metres long, the monkey is 93 metres by 58 metres long, and the spider is 47 metres long.
Located in the province of Cusco, the town of Andahuaylillas is small but offers its visitors an exquisite treat in the San Pedro Apóstol Andahuaylillas Chapel. Coined ‘The Sistine Chapel of America’, this glorious church was built in 1610 and still houses remains of Inca architecture. Amongst the paintings on the walls, you can find a portrait of the only woman that ruled that Catholic Church between 855 – 857 – Pope Joan. There are also depictions of paradise and hell, as well as various languages including Latin, Quechua, Aymara and Puquina, the latter 3 being native languages from surrounding regions.
Advent Calendar Fact: Cusco in Peru was the most important city in the whole of the Inca Empire, and used to govern as far north as Quito in Ecuador and as far south as Santiago in Chile.
Peru Fact File:
Geographical size – 496,224 square miles
Population – 32.51 million
Number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – 12
Average temperature – June to October 19 degrees, November to May 24 degrees
Escorted Tour of The Day:
The amazing 15-day Escorted Tour encompasses the dense tropical rainforest of the Amazon, the arid desert region of Nazca, the dune-filled beaches of Paracas and the snow-capped volcanic peaks of Arequipa – Peru offers a dramatically varied landscape and spectacular biodiversity.
- Explore the ancient mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu
- Discover the unique flora and fauna of the Amazon Rainforest in Puerto Maldonado
- Fly over the mysterious etchings of The Nazca Lines
- Spot sea lions, penguins and dolphins on a Ballestas Islands boat ride
- Visit historic city sights on tours of Lime and Cusco
- Enjoy a boat trip on Lake Titicaca, visiting Uros and Taquile Islands
Make your Escorted Tour to Peru even more memorable with a Lima City extension!
A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Lima offers rich history, great museums, pre-Columbian temples and colonial mansions. Discover more of the city or venture out to the nearby, bohemian district of Barranco where daily life is more relaxed and take a stroll around the old colonial and republican houses. The beautiful area of Miraflores, known for its gardens, parks and beaches, is also not to be missed.