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Peru

by , SmarterTravel Staff
At the top of Dead Woman's Pass on the Inca Trail (Photo: Molly Feltner)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 8, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Alaska Airlines, Christine Sarkis, destination, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, festival, Four Seasons Hotels, Kansas City, museum, Peru, Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita, San Blas, Sayulita, Southwest, Spirit, Vancouver, Vilnius, Volaris.

More people are visiting Peru every year. In fact, the country has the second highest tourism growth estimate in Latin America, and online travel provider Opodo reports that bookings to Lima, Peru, are up 98 percent over last year. Peru is supporting that growth with major funding of tourism infrastructures and projects.

But because Peru is home to Machu Picchu—a destination already feeling the ill-effects of overtourism—the country as a whole is invested in building a sustainable tourism program focused on creating and fostering destinations around Peru so that as visitor numbers increase, tourism doesn't endanger the very sites and cultures people come to see. And, capital city Lima is expanding and solidifying a place as a destination in itself, not just a portal to the rest of the country. New hotels are opening, and the government is investing heavily on tourism infrastructure developments in Lima and its environs.

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Lima concentrates the appeal of Peru into an urban center. Rich in museums celebrating the heritage, culture, and natural beauty of the country, it also has colonial architecture, archeological ruins, scenic landscapes, and even beaches. Beyond Lima (and Machu Picchu), Peru offers unforgettable destinations like Caral, the archeological ruins of what is widely recognized as the oldest city in the Americas. Older than Machu Picchu, Caral is within driving distance from Lima and can be a day trip from the capital.

There's also Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable body of water, known for its floating islands housing entire communities of people; Colca Canyon, a canyon twice as deep as the Grand Canyon; and hundreds of other destinations worth exploring.

Compared to its neighboring countries, Peru can be a more affordable destination to fly to from the U.S. Why? Well, in addition to being served by [[American]], [[Continental]], [[Delta]], and other large airlines such as TACA, Lima's airport is also served by low-cost-carrier [[Spirit Airlines]], with service from Ft. Lauderdale.

Peru is an affordable country on the ground as well. The Peru Tourism Board estimates that a basic lunch costs $3 U.S., while a more elaborate meal is about $12. Accommodations range from $5 per night for super-budget to $90 for luxury properties. Not bad if you're trying to stretch those vacation dollars.

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