Located in western South America, Peru boasts a mix of ancient ruins, beautiful architecture, the Andes mountains, and a long coastline. The biodiverse country offers travelers an abundance of both cultural and outdoor opportunities to fill their vacation in Peru. Peru’s 1.2 million square kilometers is divided into three regions: coast, highlands, and jungle, which of course includes the expansive Amazon Rainforest.
With deforestation, farming, and huge amounts of visitors who travel to Peru, it’s paramount to research how you can be a responsible traveler in order to preserve this beautiful but fragile environment through ecotourism. According to the Global Ecotourism Network, Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and creates knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education of all involved: visitors, staff and the visited”.
Fast Facts about Tourism in Peru
The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism is the political and administrative authority for the tourism sector and oversees many other tourism bodies.
Each year, more and more travelers decide to travel to Peru. From 2017 to 2018, there was about a 10% jump in international traveler arrivals—a level that stayed nearly the same in 2019. So, why are so many global travelers choosing Peru? Because of its ancient history, ruins, dramatic natural beauty from the Andes mountains to dense rainforest, delicious food and rich indigenous culture. Due to its wide range of terrain, adventure activities like surfing, skiing, rafting, and sandboarding are popular.
Machu Picchu is an Incan ruin and is one of the most well-known sites of Peru. However, there are many more ancient ruins to visit—the Nazca Lines are especially impressive. Seen from above, they are miles-long symbols literally dug in the Earth. Pre-columbian civilizations are generally huge draws to visit Peru for both art history buffs and adventure lovers—Chan Chan, Kuelap, and Ollantaytambo are famous ruins you might consider for your vacation in Peru.
Popular urban destinations are Lima, Cusco, and Puno. Many cities in Peru have beautiful Spanish architecture over 500 years old, especially Lima and Arequipa, and house many art and cultural museums; the Lima Art Museum houses native art spanning 3000 years.
What to Know About Ecotourism in Peru
The Amazon Rainforest accounts for 74% of Peru’s land—this rich, dense land is home to many animals, including over a thousand species of birds attracting many to travel to Peru. This rainforest contains the High Jungle and Low Jungle, with the High Jungle being more accessible for travelers. Additionally, Peru is a richly biodiverse country with many endemic species. In the Peruvian Amazon, you can find jaguars, hawks, eagles, monkeys, macaws, and capybaras, to name just a few.
In 1990, the National System of Natural Areas was created, which established specific protected areas, and the 1993 Constitution of Peru established its natural resources and ecosystems as part of the country’s heritage. Specifically, Peru is making progress in protecting Peru’s perhaps most well-known natural asset—the Amazon Rainforest—by setting up National Park Reserves. Unfortunately, since the early 2000s, some areas have been subject to deforestation, soil degradation, and construction, making ecotourism all the more important to embrace during your vacation in Peru.
The Peruvian government has some initiatives on paper to promote ecotourism. For example, an initiative called Al Turista, Lo Nuestro promotes the direct incorporation of local products such as livestock and handicrafts as part of tourism services. However, there isn’t a uniform policy regarding ecotourism, and there aren’t concrete certifications to reliably identify Peru tours, hotels, and other activities. However, with due diligence, you can find companies devoted to its principles.
One area that is subject to more governmental regulation is Machu Picchu. The Government has limited the number of visitors per day at 2,500, and the amount of permits for the Inca Trail to 500. This includes guides, cooks, and other employees which must accompany trekkers. As of 2018, you also cannot bring any single-use plastic inside the area.
Ecotours to Book for Your Vacation in Peru
With the variety of areas that Peru has to offer, there are many eco-friendly tours for you that can suit you when you travel to Peru. Peru tours range from urban food tours, multi-day treks, archeological tours, and more.
Popular protected areas of interest for those who travel to Peru are Manú National Park and the Rio Abiseo National Park, both of which are also UNESCO world heritage sites for both natural and cultural value.
Of course, the ancient ruins and dramatic setting of Machu Picchu are a huge draw for travelers. Consider Evolution Treks Peru for your operator to book on your vacation in Peru. It is a locally-owned tour company that offers a huge variety of itineraries, like the Classic Inca Trail tour. They have many sustainable initiatives, including being the only company that hires women porters and ensures them an equal salary. They are also cooperatively employee-owned and provide equal travel conditions for the trekker and porters/guides alike.
Another option is Alternative Peru, which offers private guided cultural tours. By going to less-visited destinations and neighborhoods, your money is interacting with more local and smaller economies. Alternative Lima offers a full day in the capital city “off the beaten path” given by a local guide.
If you’re planning a vacation with principles of ecotourism in your mind, a vacation in Peru is a great option, especially if you’re willing to spend some time researching specific businesses and activities. It’s sure to satisfy adventure seekers, gastronomic lovers, and avid historians alike.
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