Peru certainly made its impression on me. Rich in culture, tradition, and definitely not lacking in breathtaking landscapes, I truly think anyone would find a visit to this country transformative and refreshing. Every minute that passed while my feet were on Peruvian ground, I was living in pure bliss. Someday I'll go back, but as for now I can only tell you why you should consider Peru for your next exotic vacation.
1. To explore Machu Picchu, and climb Huayna Picchu: If you're going to Peru, chances are Machu Picchu is already a part of your plans. And it should be. The ancient Incan city sits in the Andes mountains at nearly 8,000 feet among the mist and low-laying clouds. Climbing to the top of Huayna Picchu is strenuous - but can be done by almost anyone if taken at a slow enough pace - and it's worth every step. The peak of the mountain has a unique overhead view of the ancient city and some jaw-dropping panoramic views that truly make you feel like you're standing on top of the world.
2. To savor local cuisine: Peruvian food is to die for. Ever since I returned from Peru I've been seeking it out - and luckily I've been able to find a place here in LA that does the local cuisine justice. Any local restaurant will likely sell a plate of classic beef with fried rice and grilled plantains, and it will be so good it will melt your face off. French fries as a side is not only encouraged, but can be considered "classy," so eat your heart out - but don't forget to mix your ketchup with your mayo.
3. To wander the streets of Cuzco and experience the street markets: Cuzco is an incredible city nestled in the heart of the Andes that's a paradise for any history or architecture enthusiast. The narrow brick and cobblestone streets house rows and rows of market vendors selling traditional Peruvian patterned tapestries, sweaters made from alpaca wool, and handmade turquoise jewelry. Not to mention the beautiful architecture around every corner.
4. To learn about the unique culture: The native culture is still extremely prevalent in Peru, and if you listen closely while wandering the streets of the mountain towns, you'll hear locals speaking the native language Quechua, which was around for hundreds of years before Spanish was made the majority language. You'll see almost just as many people wearing traditional Incan skirts and braided hair as those wearing jeans and fleece jackets. If you look in the right places, you can learn about the process of making and dying alpaca wool (the colors of wool in the photo below are made from only natural products, believe it or not).
5. To take pictures with llamas, alpacas, goats and lambs: I mean...
Peru is incredible. Most of my time there was spent between Cuzco and Machu Piccu, but the whole country has so much to offer. Lima is considered one of the culinary capitals of the world, and the northeast region offers Amazonian rainforest adventures. The beaches offer top-notch surfing, and it's almost guaranteed that you'll find a Pisco Sour on the menu at any bar you go to. Order the Pisco Sour.