TORONTO — There’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu, and soon the South American country will be easier to reach, travel agents learned during a presentation by Gateways International at Babalu’U restaurant in Toronto last week.
Travellers can fly to the land of the Incas nonstop between Toronto and Lima with Air Canada beginning Dec. 11, 2014. Three flights per week (Mon., Wed., Sat) will depart Toronto at 5:45 p.m. and arrive in Lima at 1:45 a.m.
The return flights depart Lima (Tue., Thu., Sun) at 3:15 a.m. and arrive in Toronto at 11:15 a.m.
Peru’s pleasant climate makes it an ideal destination year round, explained Gateways Director of Sales Martha Tavio, “except for a few weeks in February when rain can be heavy and that’s only in Cusco and Machu Picchu.”
While sampling ceviche, paella and lemon chicken, attendees heard about Peru’s “amazing” 1,600 kilometre-long coastline (where surfing is an option) as well as its beautiful handicrafts, rich history dating back 20,000 years, a jungle where 70% of all living species on earth can be found, and 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Among them are the city of Cuzco and Historic Centre of Lima and Arequipa, the Chan Chan Archaeological zone – the largest ancient adobe city in the world, and the mysterious Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana.
Travellers should also be made aware of the country’s renowned cuisine – considered one of the best in South America. “Some of the top chefs today are Peruvian,” said Tavio. Visitors can explore the gastronomical highlights on the company’s new 7-day ‘Flavours of Peru’ experience, starting from $5,949, and including a private culinary tour of Lima (fishing, market visit and cooking class), the Larco Herrera Museum, luxury cruise in the Peruvian Amazon and dinner at a top restaurant.
While Machu Picchu is on everyone’s bucket list (note there is a maximum of 2,500 visitors per day and tickets must be purchased in advance), Peru is also home to the deep Colca Canyon where the condor flies, and the largest lake in South America – Lake Titicaca. On its islands, Gateways spokesman Elie Abitbol says people have no concept of time or age, “but they play very good volleyball.”
Other tour options include the 12-day Signature Peru, the 11-day Inca Trail, and a luxury river cruise on the Amazon, where you can see the rare pink dolphins. “On one trip, they found an anaconda and brought it on the ship, where it regurgitated a caiman,” explained Abitbol, prompting gasps from the audience.
A visit to Peru can also be combined with other South American countries.
The most popular choice is Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.