Travel in Peru

(continuer en français) – Last update: August 25, 2020

Travel to the land of the Incas

As in Tintin and the Temple of the Sun, it sometimes seems that it would be enough to push a stone slab to tip over to the time of the Incas.

My first interest to go to Peru was of course Machu Picchu, the best preserved site of the Inca civilization which is the main Peruvian tourist attraction. It attracts crowds of tourists who for the most part also visit other regions and other attractive places that can be found in the country. Sometimes the number of visitors can be a source of displeasure and distort the ordinary local life, but this influx of visitors promotes the development of infrastructure and ensures that standards of comfort and trust are maintained.

Machu Picchu has unfortunately become one of the symbols of overtourism throughout the world. By its isolation in the mountains and its location at a summit, the limited space does not allow to increase the capacities of visit in accordance with the demand. Both to preserve the site and to ensure a minimum of comfort for visitors, the authorities have gradually increased the constraints on access and visits.

The geography of present-day Peru covers the heart of what was once the Inca Empire. At its peak it stretched for about 4500 kilometres, further north and south, but hardly any further east, mainly along the Andes Cordillera. The political centre was in Cusco, which remained one of the main cities of the country. The Quechua and Aymara populations that were dominant under the Incas still populate the majority of the country, although the European contribution appears more in the cities.

I found that in the tourist sectors, the friendliness and genuineness of the populations remain despite the influx of visitors. The cholitas, their hats and long pigtails are willingly undergoing the attention they attract from photographers. While tourism may seem a little overwhelming, everyone is well aware of the financial benefits it brings and the number of jobs that it provides.

UNESCO’s big cities

On the way to Machu Picchu or after visiting it, there are also beautiful towns to stop for a while. Lima, Cusco and Arequipa attract by their colonial architecture. Their historic centers are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lima was created to impress from the start, to serve as the capital of this part of the Spanish colonial empire, it received all the attention of the power to make it an outstanding city. Architects and artists from Europe built civil and religious buildings financed by the wealth collected in these new lands.

Cusco and Arequipa have a more provincial charm of human-sized cities where it is pleasant to stroll. Being located in altitude, they also have a luminous brightness that delights the eye and embellishes the pictures.

Altiplano

I also took the time to travel through the Altiplano and to go to Lake Titicaca, they offer their dramatic landscapes and their lifestyles from another age. Here again, the tourist flow is beginning to change attitudes and to transform traditions into shows lacking genuineness. In the domain of tourist traps, the floating islands of Puno are probably the worst experience; it is better to avoid going there, or at least to be warned.

But there is still the landscape and the imagination to make the real out of the fake.

 

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4 comments

    • Frankly, I’m not sure. I rather think that everything will go back to the way it was before, with even a rush at the beginning to make up for all the frustrations of the past. I rather think that over-tourism should be managed by the receiving countries by setting up reservation systems, or even by facilitating access to other centres of interest. I found that Peru did it quite well in Machu Picchu, but I was very disappointed by the joke of the floating islands, it would be better to stop this circus.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And also Taquille island has a similar attitude, it is pure business. You are correct about the frustrations, definitely it will be a rush at the beginning, when we will be able to travel again, but we’ll see what is going to happen on a long run, time will tell. Stay safe!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right, the longer term will be interesting to observe; I think that many experienced travellers have reflected and evolved during this period of abstinence, it is possible that this favours other approaches, but I see this as marginal. Thank you for your thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

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