Why choose O.A.R.S. for an adventure vacation in Peru?
Peru is the inheritor of an ancestral, historical and archeological wealth and is home of pre-Hispanic cultures, which flourish today in Peruvians living in Peru's coast, mountains and rainforests. Crowned from north to south by the impressive Cordillera of the Andes with its eastern drainage into the Amazon basin, and its coasts, bathed by the Pacific Ocean, Peru offers a unique mix of adventure, natural phenomenon, history and cultural attractions from Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuamán and the Plaza de Armas and the Sacred Valley. Peru is also renowned for its food and hospitality—and our O.A.R.S. guides are some of the best in the adventure travel business! For more than 40 years O.A.R.S. has led travelers of all ages and abilities to some of the most beautiful places on Earth, never losing sight of one of our foremost goals: to make the joys of the wilderness accessible to everyone—no matter how experienced.
Our Peruvian adventure connection couldn’t be a better one as we team up with long-time guides and colleagues, Alfredo Ferreyros and Pepe Lopez. Our team of Peruvian guides were the first to develop trekking and rafting trips in Peru and pioneered many routes around the Cordilleras of the Andes, opening old Inca trails and ancient colonial pack trails to remote mountain areas. Well-trained in health, safety and environmental matters our team abides by the highest standards of quality and environmental responsibility thereby preserving Peru’s natural environment, and ancient treasures.
We believe it is a fundamental part of Peru ecotourism is to work with local guides while at the same time bringing our wealth of experience to the table. Our like-minded partners in Peru realize they are accountable to O.A.R.S. high standards, so you can rest assured you will be in be in good hands. O.A.R.S. has taken out the guesswork and added our guarantee. We hope you have an opportunity to join us on one of our Peru adventures for a journey of discovery and exploration.
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Peru: The Center of the Inca Empire
Equally rich in adventure as it is in history, the South American nation of Peru is a mystical land of rolling countryside and dramatic Andes mountain views and is a region rich in the archaeological remains of Inca and pre-Inca origins—extensive terracing, villages, fortresses and outposts with intensive agricultural activity. Journey to the ruins at Machu Picchu, raft the Apurimac and Salcantay rivers of Peru and experience the Inti Raymi Incan festival in Cusco, Peru. Discover the incredible cultural heritage left to us by the Inca empire.
Peru's Geography: The Andes Mountains to the Pacific Coast
Peru lies in the tropics, just south of the equator, and can be divided into three distinctly different geographical regions: the Pacific coastal strip, the Andes Mountains and the Amazonian lowlands. On the coast, the capital city of Lima and the world-class Pacific surf are mainly desert, extending south to Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth.
Second only to the Himalaya, the Andes rise to over 18,000 feet just miles from the Peruvian coast with year-round glaciers above 15,000 feet. This rugged Andean landscape boasts dramatic jagged ranges separated by deep, vertical canyons, rewarding you with the incredible mountain scenery that is the backdrop for much of our adventure.
The eastern slopes of the Andes are cloaked in green cloud forests receiving abundant rainfall as they drop into the fabled Amazon Basin. Over half of Peru lies within the vast wilderness of the Amazon Basin, penetrated by few roads and houses and less than 5% of the country’s population. However, there are thousands of animal and bird species that call the remote jungle home, making Peru one of the most biologically diverse nations on the planet.
For many, the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Peruvian history is “Inca.” Certainly, the Inca civilization is the most studied and well recognized of South America’s pre-Columbian cultures, but Peru’s first inhabitants were nomadic hunters who are believed to have migrated across the Bering Straight and into the Americas about 20,000 years ago.
Between the initial years of civilization in Peru and the rise and fall of the Inca Empire, many cultures shared in the development of weaving, pottery, agriculture, religion and architecture. But for all its greatness, the Inca Empire existed for barely a century. Beginning in the 1430s, the Inca conquered most of the cultures in the area stretching from southern Colombia to central Chile. Like the Wari before them, the Incas imposed their way of life on the peoples they conquered and created magnificent cities with impressive urban developments. Thus, when the Spanish arrived, most of the Andean area had been politically united by Inca rule.
Peru is unequalled in South America in its archaeological wealth, and many experts find Peru’s ancient sites and cultures as exciting as those of Mexico, Egypt and the Mediterranean. Learning about and visiting these centuries-old ruins is one of the highlights of our programs in Peru.
Peru's Cultural Heritage
Peru is multi-cultural society, with one part containing predominately white and mestizo middle and upper classes, and the other made up of mostly poor Amerindian campesinos. Ninety percent of the population is Roman Catholic, and soccer and bullfighting are among the most popular pastimes.
Traditional Andean music is popularly referred to as musica folklorica and is frequently encountered at street fairs and fiestas. The most representative wind instruments are quenas and zampoñas. Although string instruments were introduced by the Spanish, musica folklorica groups make use of the charango—a tiny 10-stringed guitar with the box traditionally made of an armadillo shell. Percussion instruments include drums made from hollowed-out tree trunks and stretched goatskin and rattles of goat hooves.
Peruvian crafts are based on pre-Hispanic necessities such as weaving, pottery, and metallurgy. Today, beautifully colored woven cloth is seen in traditional ponchos, belts, rugs and tapestries. Pottery and jewelry are based on ancient designs.