Peru isn’t just for backpackers anymore. Luxury properties have sprung up across the country, most carefully mirroring their surroundings, from colonial mansions in Cuzco to thatched roof bungalows in the Amazon’s rainforest.
By Laura Elise from SA Luxury Expeditions.
Several years of improvement in infrastructure, security, and travel promotion have encouraged the growth of luxury options in this South American country. Here are some of the top locations to experience the best of Peru in comfort.
Cuzco is by far Peru’s most popular destination. Equipped with an airport for accessibility (flights are currently only domestic, but a new international airport is planned), plenty of cultural attractions and fine dining, Cuzco is also the launching point for most excursions to Machu Picchu, Peru’s famous mountaintop Inca citadel.
Cuzco is filled with luxury properties tucked away behind stone Inca walls. Luxurious amenities include traditional spa therapies, heated floors (to keep away the Andean chill) and regally decorated rooms. Several of the 5-star hotels in Cuzco are built in former colonial mansions or convents, which prior to the Spanish conquest were important Inca sites.
Cuzco was the capital of the Incan Empire until the 1500s, and several stone walls and structure remain scattered within and surrounding the city.
Upon arrival beware of the height and the thin air! Move slowly and enjoy some mate tea until you acclimatize properly.
Although the Sacred Valley outside of Cuzco is the most common place to enjoy Peru’s rural settings, the Colca Canyon comes in a close second. Located several hours outside the colonial city of Arequipa, the Colca Canyon region includes some of the deepest canyons in the world, soaring volcanoes, and traditional villages farmed today as they were hundreds of years ago.
The picturesque landscape includes farmlands dotted with llamas and alpacas and a mountain background that seems to go on forever. Properties in the area reflect the simple beauty of their surroundings, many exchanging televisions for panoramic windows and business centers for natural hot springs and spas.
The Amazon Rainforest
For a region that is overwhelmingly dominated by nature with dense vegetation and mysterious wildlife, the Peruvian Amazon has a surprising offering of luxury lodges. Of course, luxury in the jungle is relative, but the rainforest surrounding Puerto Maldonado contains several eco-lodges where guests stay in private bungalows complete with plush beds surrounded by mosquito netting (after all, you are in the Amazon!).
Meals are usually delicious affairs with buffets or several courses of Amazonian cuisine.
From the northern jungle town of Iquitos, cruises set sail down the Amazon, including several luxury boats. These boats carry a limited number of passengers and are known for exquisite attention to detail and design and superb onboard naturalist guides.
Lima – Peru’s Capital
If modern luxury is what you’re after, you’re best bet is to spend a few nights in Peru’s capital, Lima. This seaside capital is the largest city in Peru and by far its most modern. Many of the best hotels are located in the district of Miraflores, which lines the coast and contains numerous dining options.
Lima is commonly considered the culinary capital of Latin America, and although hotels will feature their own restaurants, part of the flavor of visiting Lima is venturing out to explore the cuisine scene on your own. Some classics to try: ceviche washed down with a pisco sour.
Author Bio: Laura Elise writes for SA Luxury Expeditions, a South America travel company specializing in luxury Peru tours. Originally from the Midwest, she’s been living in Latin America for four years and is currently based in Lima, Peru.