Sultan Jessa Travelogue: Peru wants more tourists

EDITOR’S NOTE: Retired Ismaili journalist just returned from a visit to Brazil, Argentina and Peru which also included a trip to Machu Picchu, the fabled “City in the Sky.” This is Sultan’s last feature on Peru with several photographs. Earlier features on Argentina is here, and Brazil here. Click here for all stories.

Peru is banking on 10 million visitors by 2020

Is this a dream or reality? – Story and photographs By Sultan Jessa

Tourists at machu picchu
Tourists at Machu Picchu

Lima – PERU: This South American country of 30 million has a rich and varied heritage which includes the fabled and ancient capital of Cuzco and the lost city of Machu Picchu. Talk about Peru and the only thing that comes to mind is the Machu Picchu or the “Lost City in the Sky.”

Apart from spectacular scenery, Peru also is home to Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. There is no doubt tourism is booming in Peru. Peru is determined to bring in 10 million tourists by 2020.

Is this incredible or credible?

This remains to be seen.

A tourist bargains for souveniors in peru
A tourist bargains for souveniors in Peru

According to available figures, Peru welcomed 3,000,000 tourists in 2012. The actual figures for 2014 won’t be available for a while. The government is determined to make tourism the second largest industry after mining and fisheries. The number of foreign tourists visiting Peru each year has increased dramatically during the past 15 years. This country is rich in copper, silver, lead, zinc, gold and oil.

An increasing number of tourists from around the world are now being drawn to Peru’s wide variety of attractions, archaeological treasures and stunning sceneries. Peru also has the Andes mountain range and parts of the Amazon forest. In the early 2000s, Peru went through one of the world’s fastest growing economies. This was the time when many countries were eager and ready to exploit Peru’s rich mineral wealth. The boom bubble burst when Peruvian authorities faced stiff opposition from people in rural areas who were not happy with mining operations and feared this was causing a lot of pollution, using up a massive amount of water and still not helping the local population to lift them out of abject poverty.

Peruvians were also concerned that mining operations, dams and oil fields were destroying their ancestral lands, the same situation that greatly bothers Aboriginal people in Canada vehemently opposed to development of new oil fields in the country. The government is still trying to come to terms with this two decade conflict. The tourism has a lot of potential.

A woman in Peru
A woman in Peru

Machu Picchu is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. This is tangible evidence of the existence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement. This citadel of cut stones if fit together without mortar so tightly that its cracks still can’t be penetrated by a knife blade.

The vast complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold or a retreat. These ruins lie on a high ridge, surrounded on the three sides by the windy, turbulent Urubamba River some 2,000 feet below. Scholars are still striving to uncover clues to the mysteries hidden high on the eastern slopes of the Andes mountain range. When Machu Picchu was built more than 500 years ago, the Inca had no iron, no steel, and no wheels. It is believed fewer than a thousand people lived in Machu Picchu, which offers the most intriguing destinations on the planet.

Before going to Machu Picchu, we stopped in Cuzco, in southern Peru, a city with the most beautiful views in the world. Surrounded by six mountains, Cuzco is the oldest city in the western hemisphere and the cradle of the ancient Inca civilization. Cuzco is also very near the amazing ruins of Machu Picchu. We took the Vistadome Train for the ride through the sacred valley of Urubamba to the “Lost City of the Incas.”

After Machu Picchu, our last stop was to Lima, the capital and the largest city in Peru. Lima has quality museums, excellent restaurants. Most hotels are in the affluent district of Miraflores which is located on the coast and a perfect place to watch the world go by as you enjoy dining or shopping.

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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