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Cusco Attractions: Koricancha and the Temple of the Sun

Koricancha (meaning golden courtyard) located in Cusco was one of the most important sites of the Inca Empire. It was said to be a splendid place with gold doors, emerald studded wall; and courtyards filled with gold statutes.

Within Koricancha the Temple of the Sun was a holy site for the Inca. Dedicated to Inti, the walls were covered gold plated and the temple housed a jeweled-encrusted golden statue of the sun god. Each day the statue was taken outside and moved back inside the temple each evening. A gold and silver garden was created in Inti’s honor featuring a corn field, guinea pigs, birds, shepherds, jaguars, llamas, monkeys, insects and butterflies. What a sight to behold! Unfortunately all that remains today is a selection of corn stalks as proof of the people’s respect for the sun god.

In addition to the Temple of the Sun,  Koricancha housed five separate temples dedicated to Viracocha, the creator god, Quilla, the goddess of the moon, Illapa, the god of thunder, Cuichu, the rainbow god and Venus, the goddess of the dawn. Each temple contained a statue in honor of the god as well as art and other religious objects.

It is said that the original construction of Koricancha had been carried out under the orders of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui and additional construction was done by Maco Capac in the early 12th Century. The site was built to resemble the sun complete with rays shining in all directions.

The Spanish colonists eventually built the Church of Santo Domingo demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the church in an attempt to obliterate the Inca beliefs. Any remaining gold was melted into ingots and claimed by the Spanish crown.

Little remains of the Koricancha original buildings or the temple other than sections of the stone walls for which the Inca are well known.  Their masonry skills were avant-garde. It is definite worthwhile visiting Koricancha and the Santo Domingo Church to admire the combination of Inca and colonial architecture.

Huacachina – An Oasis in the Peruvian Desert

For thrill seeking and bold tourists, we recommend heading away from Lima and visit Huacachina. Known as ‘the oasis of America’, the famous lush oasis in the desert has quite a folktale behind it; but it is not the mermaid from the lagoon that draws in the majority of the crowds.

The desert of Huacachina entices men, women and children of all ages to climb aboard the dune buggies or slide down the dunes on sandboards. Unlike snowboarding, no experience is required; you can literally lie down on your stomach and ride the sand dunes to the bottom where your buggy driver will be waiting to take you to the next dune. Then repeat twice more, each time the size of the dune gradually increases.

Note that the sand dunes in Huacachina are huge and buggies go fast – very fast; together they ensure quite an adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster-like experience.

This tour is one of the most popular in the area and even rivals the Pisco tours in nearby Ica.

A local legend attributes special healing powers to the mud and the water in the area for curing all manner of ailments including arthritis, asthma and rheumatism.

If you think the oasis looks and sounds familiar, then you may be surprised to learn that the image of the Huacachina Oasis is actually on the Peruvian 50 Nuevo Sol note.

The sand dunes in Huacachina are inspiring and offer a truly out of this world experience. A rare opportunity to have a personalised and unique tour of the desert.

Perú InsideOut –Testimonials Speak For Themselves

We specialize in creating travel packages for visitors from all over South America. Some are first time visitors to Peru and others are return visitors wanting something a little different from what the traditional tour guides offer.

Our team works hard to source quality guides and reputable experiences that showcase the best that Peru, and in some cases Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, have to offer. Here is what some of our customers had to say.

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If you have travelled with Perú InsideOut, we would love to publish your testimonial. Please email the team at info@peruinsideout.com with your comments.

Choquequirao Ruins

The remote ruins of Choquequirao lie in the Vilcabama mountain range in Peru and will remain a highlight of the visit to this amazing South American country if you have the time.

If you are looking for an adventurous and alternative hike to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is perfect and can be reached from Cusco. Treks usually start from the small village of Cachora. Meaning “cradle of gold”, Choquequirao is a trek for those looking for something a little off the beaten path.

Choquequirao shares similar architectural styles to Machu Picchu and, from a historical perspective, was an administrative settlement associated with the Inca Empire. The city was an important link between the Amazon Jungle and the city of Cusco.

For those who embark on this hike, the landscape will offer breathtaking experiences in every direction. From amazing flora and fauna to snow-capped mountains and glaciers, Choquequirao lies I the impressive Apurimac Canyon to reach the ruins.

There are many sections of Choquequirao which are quite spread out usually requiring a full day of exploration to see it all. Unlike Machu Picchu, the site is not overrun with visitors and you will enjoy a tranquil tour. Less than 100 people visit Choquequirao each day in comparison to 2,500 people visiting Machu Picchu. Only 30-40% of the ruins have so far been excavated.

As the hike is quite strenuous, there has been much talk over the years of a cable car which will eliminate the difficulty in access and increase the number of visitors. The Peruvian Government is yet to confirm its decision.

If you are looking to visit ruins which remain fairly untouched, the lost city of Choquequirao is worth exploring.

Machu Picchu Classic Tour: August 2017

Peru is one holiday destination that never disappoints especially when it is packaged and presented as spectacularly as our flagship tour offer available August 2017. Perú InsideOut’s Machu Picchu Classic August 2017 Tour not only takes you to the wondrous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, but you get to explore fascinating parts of Peru that you never thought possible. From the depths of the Colca Canyon to the splendid waters of Lake Titicaca, from the cosmopolitan city of Lima to the ancient capital of Cusco; Perú InsideOut gives you the opportunity to experience all of this and more. Add the amazing flora and fauna of the Ballestas Islands and the mysterious Nazca Lines and you have a South American holiday that you will never forget.

Day 1: Your trip will start in Lima – you will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel.

Day 2: Tour colonial Lima and travel to Paracas with a VIP bus service.

Day 3: Sea lions, penguins, and sea birds abound in today’s tour of the Ballestas Islands. Tour Paracas National Reserve before embarking on the drive to Nazca.

Day 4: View the much acclaimed Nazca Lines (optional plane ride) and try and imagine about their origin. Spend the evening in Arequipa.

Day 5: Wander around the resplendent Santa Catalina Monastery and sample the delights at San Camilo market.

Day 6: Travel to the Colca Canyon taking in the scenery that the Peruvian countryside has to offer. After a traditional lunch, you will spend the night in Yanque.

Day 7: See the condors soar in their natural habitat at Cruz Del Condor after which you will journey to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Day 8: Turn back time with a relaxing visit to the floating islands of Uros, and Taquile, where you can learn more about traditional Andean hand-woven practices.

Day 9: Travel to Cusco via the Ruta del Sol discovering the villages and sites along the way. Spend the night in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco.

Day 10: Delight in a tour of the temples and Inca remains based in and around Cusco followed by a trip to San Pedro market.

Day 11: Explore the ruins of Pisac and stroll the local markets picking up souvenirs in our Scred Valley tour . Savor lunch in Urubamba before heading to Ollantaytambo fortress to board the train to Aguas Calientes.

Day 12: Nothing compares to a visit of the citadel of Machu Picchu particularly at sunrise. Enjoy the views and learn about the history of this new wonder of the world before returning to Cusco.

Day 13: Your tour to Peru in August 2017 ends with your return flight to Lima.

Don’t let another year pass by without experiencing the best that Peru has to offer. Let your Andean adventure start today by getting in contact with Perú InsideOut.

Sacsayhuaman

Most travelers visit Cusco, from where visitors can explore Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley, but Sacsayhuaman is also a must-see site for those who are interested in exploring ruins and the history of the Incas in more detail. Sacsayhuaman, meaning Royal Eagle is a magnificent fortress constructed during the Pachacuti reign. Historians say that it took over seven decades to construct  and that 20,000 men were needed to complete the work. Truly samazing statistics.

Sacsayhuaman was the largest structure built by the Incas, and the fortress remains are a testament to their knowledge of construction and masonry. Many of the polygonal blocks are over 4 meters in height and weigh up to 100,000 kg. The stone structure was a huge accomplishment as evidence suggests that the blocks were pounded into shape rather than cut, and mortar was not necessary due to the precise nature of the setting of the stones. At its peak, the construction reached an impressive height of 18 meters and stood 540 meters in length.

The stone fortress included temples, aqueducts, terraces, patios and towers and was a location for important Inca ceremonies. It was also used as a storage depot for food, armor, textiles, ceramics and precious metals.

Sacsayhuaman lies on the outskirts of Cusco and remains to this day, an important part of the Inca culture. Each year you can watch the annual reenactment of the Inti Raymi Inca festival held on the winter solstice.

Sacsayhuaman can be visited independently or as a tour with other fascinating Inca sites such as Puca Pucara, Qenko and Tambo Machay. Either way, Sacsayhuaman is an impressive insight into the Inca culture and well worth a visit.

Chincha – African Identity and Culture in Southern Peru

Visiting Chincha in the South of Peru instantly transports you to an entirely different time and place. Gone are the Inca ruins and traditional Peruvian dishes, replaced instead by black African figurines and mouth-watering dishes of Creole food featuring potatoes and rice .

The Afro-Peruvian culture is rich and colorful, steeped in a long history and well-defined traditions. If you visit Chincha during February or November, you will be able to see this part of Peru at its best. The festival of Verano Negro and las Danzas Negras bring the streets alive with music and dancing.

El Carmen is a worthwhile tourist destination at any time of the year with peñas (parties) featuring Afro-Peruvian music in  clubs and bars. Pisco is served from the local wineries in the nearby district of Ica.

The traditional Afro-Peruvian music is played using a number of local historic instruments including the cajon drum, the cajita, and the  quijada de burro, made from an ox or donkey jaw . The dances are fun and energetic bringing a smile to all those watching.

Hacienda San Jose built in 1688, a former seventeenth-century manor, provides a glimpse of a slave plantation from the past complete with catacombs and underground tunnels. Dinner and buffet shows are also available at this stately address.

Once the slave tradition ended, the Africans and their Peruvian-African descendants remained, enriching the local Peruvian Creole culture in Chincha and El Carmen.

4 Tempting Drinks From Peru

Peru is known for its delicious culinary delights – from cuy to lomo saltado and a myriad of other delightful dishes. But did you know there are many tasty local beverages available to accompany the food found in restaurants and on street corners? While Cusquena (Peruvian beer) and Inka Cola (a yellow Peruvian soda) are thirst quenching at the best of times, here are four Peruvian drinks to add to your list to sample.

1. Pisco Sour

Pisco sour is a name you will see and hear in all parts of Peru, and if you are an alcohol drinker, you need to try it at least once during your visit. Pisco sour is the national cocktail of Peru and is made using the liquor of the same name, Pisco. The Pisco liquor is accompanied by lime juice, ice, sweet syrup, egg white and angostura bitters It is iconic as they come.

2. Coca Tea

Coca tea is a common drink in Peru and is brewed from the coca leaf. It is a popular drink which is also used to combat the effects of altitude sickness particularly in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. It is also a great way to warm up when the weather turns cold. A version of a Pisco sour made with coca leaves, known as a coca sour, is also available.

3. Chicha Morada

This non-alcoholic version of chicha is served in restaurants, at the markets, and by street vendors. Deep purple, it gets its color from purple corn as the staple ingredient. It has a sweet cinnamon-like taste and requires sugar, lime juice, pineapple, cloves and cinnamon to complete the recipe. It is all boiled and cooled before being enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

4. Chicha de Jora

Chicha de jora is the alcoholic version of chicha morada. It is made from yellow corn and is fermented like apple cider. It has been enjoyed by Peruvians by hundreds of years and remains a much-loved and affordable alcoholic option today.

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