ADVENTURE IN THE ANDES
All eyes are on Peru with direct flights between Sydney and Lima hoped to be one of the next routes to be announced in the near future. PromPeru Australian market specialist Karina Oliva says an aviation pact recently signed between governments in May could help to make it even easier to reach your Machu Picchu and pisco sour dreams.
“In 2010, Peru welcomed just under 30,000 Australians,” Oliva says. “That number escalated to over 42,000 last year, so visitation is definitely on the rise.”
It’s little wonder with the nature and culinary experiences on offer, along with the unveiling of South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, which takes passengers through breathtaking scenery between Arequipa and Cusco on a two-night journey.
“Australians are experience-driven travellers,” Oliva says. “From adventure activities including trekking, to gastronomyfocused tours, it’s all about tasting, smelling, feeling and even breathing Peruvian culture and the great outdoors.”
“Most first-time visitors are keen to tick off their bucket list with a visit to Machu Picchu, which is understandable!” Oliva says. “This usually involves an initial night or two in the former Incan capital of Cusco, which sits at an altitude of 3400m.
“To best acclimatise to the region’s altitude however, head straight to Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco airport. Not only does the altitude here sit about 1000m lower than Cusco (meaning initial acclimatisation is easier), the landscapes and living cultures of the Sacred Valley are often an unexpected and authentic highlight for many.” On July 1, the Peruvian government introduced measures to help with the swarm of selfie-stick-toting tourists flocking to the mystical site, with two visiting-hour blocks and all visitors must now be accompanied by an official guide.
“The purpose is to have a more organised flow of visits to Machu Picchu and to promote the visits in the afternoon as it offers better and quieter journeys,” Oliva says.
The gastronomic capital of Lima is where to head for indigenous cuisine infused with European, African and Asian influences.
“We are very proud to have in Lima three of the best restaurants in the world according to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants: Central, Astrid & Gastón and Maido.”
WHEN TO VISIT
Peru’s rainy season runs from November to March, with peak season from May to August.
“The shoulder month of April is a great time for Australian visitors to Peru,” Oliva says. “After the rain, the countryside is verdant and lush, the skies are (generally) blue and sites are without the crowds. Prices are lower too.”
Regardless of the season, it’s wise to carry warm clothes, loose pants, cotton tops, hiking footwear, sunblock and a hat.
WHEN TO BOOK
“If travellers wish to hike the Inca Trail, it’s recommended to reserve at least three to five months in advance because the daily cap on hikers is limited to 500 and places fill very quickly,” Oliva says. Reservations for the 2018 season open tomorrow and Michelle Eckersley from World Expeditions stresses that it pays to be prepared. “In the recent past, Inca Trail permits have been available for sale from February of the year of travel – and they sell out. Once reservations are accepted, they can be paid as of January 2018, when the reservation will be confirmed.”