Once you’ve checked off Machu Picchu from our bucketlist Wonders of Peru itinerary, and introduced you to the country, why not consider planning a trip to one of the nation’s lesser known historical treasures? They range from formidable fortress cities on the peaks of the Andes (some perhaps to even rival the fabled Lost City of the Incas) to more ancient ruins that range back long into South America’s prehistory. Check them out...
Sacred City of CaralSupe
Believe it or not, the mighty rises and stepped pyramids of the Sacred City of CaralSupe were built roughly around the same time that Egypt’s Old Kingdom ruled the sands of Nort Africa, making this awesome site some 2,600 years old or more – the oldest city, in fact, in the entire of the Americas! Visitors to the spot today can just about make out the dusty mounds of the colossal Caral temples that bubble up on the horizon. There’s also a curious geoglyph cut into the desert floor and, interestingly, not a single trace of weaponry or fortifications.
Ollantaytambo was once the personal property of the great Incan emperor Pachacuti, who came this way sometime in the 1400s and conquered the land and mountain villages. Later, the site was a point of fierce resistance against the conquistadores, playing host to the guerrilla forces of Manco Inca Yupanqui, one of the last great Incan generals. What makes the town truly unique, however, is that some of the great monolith gateways and homes that were built by the Incas are still inhabited. They fringe the cobblestone streets on the edge of the Patakancha River, overshadowed by the agricultural terraces of Pumatallis and the great Pinkuylluna storehouses on the hill.
A sprawling mass of Incan ruins that covers a whopping 12 individual dig sites and up to 1,800 hectares on the verdant hillsides close to the Sacred Valley itself, Choquequirao is something like the little sister of Machu Picchu – except, that is, it’s not littler at all! Granted the site isn’t easy to reach, but those who do opt to wax down the boots and hit the arduous, twoday Andean trail to the spot will be rewarded with crumbling stone terraces, the regal court rooms of the onetime Incan emperors, and the mysterious outlines of llamas and dancing women on the schist stone palisades.
The piece de resistance of Peru’s fortresscities (Machu Picchu might have the height, but this one’s got the Game of Thronesesque edge!), Kuelap crowns the green ridges of the Utcubamba Valley with its mighty array of megalith walls and bulwarks. The site boomed sometime around the 73,000 meters up in the Andes. Unsurprisingly, it was here that the Incan warlords considered making their last stand against the conquistador armies after the arrival of the Spanish – although the fight never lasted long enough. th century AD, its mighty El Castillo keep rising to a peak at more than
Chavín de Huántar
Carved in steps out of the high, cloudmantled ridges of the Cordillera Blanca, the ancient site of Chavín de Huántar was first raised on the precipitous Andes some 3,200 years ago. Today, it’s hailed as the erstwhile epicentre of the Chavín peoples, whose influence once spread right across the Ancash and the Peruvian coastal plains. Great monolith sculptures and aged plazas dominate the UNESCOattested archaeological zone here, oozing a pre Colombian mystery that’s drawn visitors away from the muchtrodden paths of Machu Picchu with the promise of intricate quarried artworks and carvings and more!
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"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."
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