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Peru, a land of adventure

"Why Peru?" we could ask ourselves. Here are just a few of the answers...

Geography and climate

The Pacific Ocean in the west, the Equator and Columbia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east and finally Chile to the south; such is the geographic location of Peru, which, by surface area, is the third largest country in South America.

Geographers usually divide Peru into three distinct zones, from west to east. First of all, bordered by the ocean, the Costa, home to most of the population, extends to 2600km, or about 1600 miles, in length with alternating plains, deserts and oases. Lima, the capital, is located roughly in the middle of the coastline. It is surrounded by the first foothills of the Andean Cordillera, which runs the whole length of the country from north to south and in the middle of which, at 6768m, over 22,000ft high, Huascaran, the "roof" of Peru, stands out. Peaks capped permanently in snow, potentially explosive volcanos in the south, impressively high canyons and of course the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. Here you are in the perfect area for unforgettable walks and hikes, the very reason for going on an aventure in Peru.  

Then, going towards the east, the Altiplano, literally the 'high plain', the highest inhabited area in the world after the Tibetan plateau, and Lake Titicaca, the largest in South America. At an average altitude of 3300m, over 10,000ft, the Altiplano and its desolate steppes are nearly 1500km, or over 900 miles, long. Its population? It comprises essentially garrison towns, that give you the impression of being on the set of The Desert of the Tartars with Giovanni Drogo.  

Furthest to the east, spilling over from Brazil and various countries, the Selva, in other words the Amazon rainforest , covers 60 % of the area.

You'll understand then, that with such a great environmental variety, a trip to Peru means that you'll need to bring clothing suitable for all climates. On the coast, if there is nothing to worry about, since it has a temperate climate with very little rain. On the contrary, the Andes region has a cold, dry climate and is therefore more physically challenging. Finally, the Amazon region is subject to a hot, humid, tropical climate, where the sky drops torrential rains...

Fauna and flora

Peru is a member of the very exclusive club of seventeen biologically mega-diverse countries, as defined by Conservation International. To give you an idea of what this means, here is a statistic that's as impressive as a Cordillera mountain: there 5872 endemic species, in other words a species that is specific to a country or region.

To enjoy this amazing variety of animal life, luckily you don't have to risk your life in the jungle, the realm of jaguars and caimans, or giant river otters. The Manu National Park, in the south west of the country, is an exceptional natural reserve, with 222 species of mammals, 1005 bird species and 250 tree species.

During their stay in the country, readers of  Tintin books will obviously come across llamas here, animals that are in fact completely docile and placid and that only spit on their camelid companions.

Rodolphe Ragu
33 contributions
Updated 28 September 2015
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