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The forgotten kingdoms of Peru

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Native Peruvian woman and child (Photo: Adventure Life Journeys)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 8, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, arts and culture, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chile and Easter Island, eco travel, Greenland, Jordan, Laos, Molly Feltner, mountain, Nepal, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, Utah, wildlife.

Provider: Adventure Life
Length: 12 days
Price: $2,055

When most travelers think of Peru, the Incan ruin of Machu Picchu is often the first—and only—destination that comes to mind. But what most never realize, even after visiting Machu Picchu and other well-known Incan ruins, is that Peru is home to countless other fascinating sites, including those built by other civilizations that pre-date the Incas by a thousand years. That's why Latin American specialists Adventure Life is launching a new trip that covers the full spectrum of Peruvian ruins, including those in the seldom-visited northern part of the country.

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"The Inca were only the last in a long line of sophisticated pre-Columbian cultures in Peru," says Adventure Life founder Brian Morgan. "From the 1st to the 15th-century A.D., [northern Peru] was home to some of South America's most prominent cultures—the Moche, Lambayeque, Chimu, and Chachapaoyas. Like the Inca, they were exquisite craftsmen and excelled in the skills of ceramics, agriculture, architecture, metallurgy, and warfare, but their temples and arts were completely unique from the Inca."

Starting in Peru's northern desert, you'll experience little-visited sites like the ancient Chimu capitol of Chan Chan, the Tucume Pyramids, and the Lord of Sipan tomb. You'll also travel south to the Andes to see the classic Incan sites of Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley. Throughout the journey you'll have the chance to encounter Peru's native peoples, including the Quechua, the descendants of the Incas.

Trip planning

This trip can be scheduled at any time with a minimum of two passengers; traveling May through September is recommended for the best weather conditions. The trip cost includes accommodations, ground transportation, guides, and entrance fees. Most meals and airfare are not included. Expect to pay about $620 for flights within Peru. Summer airfare from Miami to Lima, the trip's start and end point, starts at around $210 round-trip plus taxes on Avianca.

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