First of all, you’ve got to go rural and dive in to Peru’s living cultures. From the towering green trees of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve to the sunny shores of Lake Titicaca, local communities are making things happen. By visiting them, they can show off their fantastic way of life and the region’s natural riches. They are delighted to do it and it helps them sustain their environment.
Peru’s unsurpassed natural beauty is equaled by her alluring cultural riches. Native Andean and Spanish colonial traditions are interwoven with other ethnic cultures to create something both ancient and dynamic. Every corner of the globe is reflected in Peru’s art and cuisine, making it one of the world’s most vital countries.
Annual events celebrating much of this history include February’s La Candelaria, Puno’s festival of music, dance and faith. Also there is the Feria de las Alasitas, a mystical time in early May when Puno and the adjacent shores of Lake Titicaca are converted into a dream-world in miniature. Two astonishing celebrations are held in June of each year in Cusco: Inti Raymi, a modern event honoring the Inca Empire’s dedication to the sun; and Qoyllur R’iti, a massive pilgrimage held on the Sinakara Plain where everyone gathers to honor their patron saint.
And then there is the art, breathtaking in its diversity and originality. From pre-Hispanic traditions and Andean religiosity to local ethnic groups, today both modern and ancient techniques are used on native materials to produce handicrafts of world renown. Mates burilados, the fabulous and intricately carved gourds; Nativity scenes made from just about everything; Cusquenian textiles, Huamanga stonework, Chulucana ceramics, Chancay dolls, Ayacuchan retablos…the list is endless, and all of it is extraordinary.
So each time we visit, we set off on an adventure of lively festivals, colorful artwork and diverse landscapes as we discover just what it means to be Peruvian. And we haven’t even discussed the food!