Leave your watch behind and get lost in time as you drive down the Panamericana in Peru. With a culture spanning 5,000 years, over 3,000 festivals celebrating Inca and Christian gods alike, and nightclubs where you can party till dawn, Peru is unlike anywhere you've ever been before.
The city of Cuzco in the Andes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and despite the tourist crowds, its archaeological riches from the Inca Empire make it worth the visit. After you've climbed down from the heights of Machu Picchu, make your way to Chachapoyas to explore the ruins of 'the people of the clouds' or visit the adobe city of Chan Chan. Peru's colonial past is equally well preserved in the quaint city of Trujillo, the first Peruvian city to declare its independence from Spain. A boat trip will take you to the incredible Amazonian city of Iquitos, where you can explore the home of pink dolphins, thousands of bird and butterfly species, jaguars, and much more. Amid all these ancient cities, spend a few days in the modern capital of Lima to discover ancient temples and old colonial architecture hiding under the complexity of city life.
Peru is a trekker's paradise and you can find trails through the Andes at Huaraz, at the El Misti Volcano, or Arequipa, where the surrounding terrain lends itself to some of the best adventure sports for sand boarding, river rafting, and trekking.
Peruvian food is a delightful mix of flavours that come alive in traditional dishes like ceviche and comida criolla recipes. For a taste of Peru's drinks, it doesn't get more authentic than a pisco but you can never go wrong with a cup of strong black coffee either.
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Lima (LIM) is the main international airport for the country and Air Canada has non-stop flights to Lima from Toronto. There are regional airports at Cuzco (CUZ), Trujillo (TRU), Iquitos (IQT), Chimbote (CHM), and Chachapoyas (CHH) which you can reach if you're flying from another South American country, or taking a connecting flight from Lima. Airlines that connect Canada with Peru via the US and Panama include Copa Air, Continental, United, Delta, American, LAN Peru, and LAN Chile.
Peru has a number of climatic regions ranging from desert to tropical rainforest. Generally speaking, the coast experiences summer temperatures averaging 27°C from December to March, and damp winters from May to October with average temperatures of 12°C. The northernmost part of the coast averages 35°C in summer and is sunny for most of the year. In the highlands, the climate is more temperate with a dry season from May to October characterized by sunny days, cold nights, and occasional showers, while it gets a rainy season from December to March. The Amazon area experiences tropical weather with a summer period from April to October and average temperatures well over 30°C, and a rainy season from November to March when it gets extremely humid.
The best time to visit Peru depends on which area you will be spending the most time in. For the Amazon area, avoid the rains, while in the Andes, the dry season is best for trekking. Summers on the coast are crowded, but if you're heading way up north, then the weather is good for most of the year, including the off-peak seasons before June and after August.