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Why is that? Well, Peru offers a New Year’s experience to appeal to virtually any and every type of traveler. It’s famously filled with the mystical and the historic. It also offers high culture, unsurpassed ecotourism, and adrenaline-pumping adventure. Add in a plethora of superb hotels, restaurants and spas, and it all adds up to a special occasion you’ll never, ever forget. Another year? Bring it on.
Top Peruvian New Year’s Traditions
To ensure a new year full of good luck and prosperity, tradition-minded Peruvians will do the following:
• Burn different colors of candles, each signifying an aspect of life to improve in the new year.
• Wear yellow underwear (yes, both gals and dudes).
• Eat 12 grapes as clocks chime midnight, one per chime (right; some people make a wish for each grape).
• Get together 12 of exactly the same coins and toss them into the air at the stroke of midnight.
• Sweep dust out the front door on New Year’s Eve.
• Bathe with flowers, signifying renewal.
• Fill pockets with dried lentils (to begin the year with full pockets), and/or eat lentils as part of the first meal of the new year.
• Burn a doll or effigy in the street, together with old clothes and papers representing the past year.
• And most relevant of all for travelers: Walk around the block with an empty suitcase (to ensure travel in the new year).
The Mystical Celebrate the new year amid some of the Western Hemisphere’s most literally awesome settings and landmarks. Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines are of course the most famous, but there are dozens of ancient sites of the Incas and other cultures to thrill the imagination. The Wari Ruins are the 16-acre remains of the capital city of a civilization in southern Peru near present-day Ayacucho, while Huaca de la Luna, near Trujillo in the north of the country, is an adobe-brick structure with impressive murals left over from the Moche civilization which flourished during the first millennium AD. The Chechapoyan civilization’s Kuelap (left) on a northern mountaintop is a complex including 450 houses and a stone fortress that’s South America’s largest ancient structure. Caral, a breathtaking complex some 200 km (180 miles) from Lima, is the continent’s oldest known settlement, dating back as far as 2627 BC. Yet more sites can be seen from cultures including the Chimú, Canta, Norte Chico, Chincha, and Chavín. There’s even an amazing one right in Lima: Huaca Pucllana, a very distinctive pyramid built by a 3rd-to-8th-century civilization known as the Lima Culture. More information
The Natural/Adventurous Peru’s largest region – and one of the planet’s most biodiverse - is actually the Amazon, which offers some unforgettable ecotouristic experiences such as jungle lodges, pink dolphins, piranhas, indigenous encounters, shamanic ceremonies, and some of the world’s best birding (the Amazon River itself actually originates here). Centers include Iquitos, Manú, and Puerto Maldonado. Off the Pacific coast are marine sanctuaries with a breathtaking variety of flora and fauna including a third of the world’s whale species. Then of course there’s Colca Canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and famous for its condors; sandboarding the Dunes of Huacachina; and much more.More information
The Urban Sophisticated Lima is one of the world’s great city visits, with an atmospheric colonial quarter (and even a preColumbian site); world-class museums, dining, and shopping; even some cool nearby beaches! More information
JW Marriott Cusco Opened in November 2012, with 146 rooms in the historic center, it’s built around an old colonial church and houses a museum of Inca artifacts. Holidays/New Year’s Packages
Hotel Monasterio A luxury Cusco icon (left) since opening in a 16thcentury monastery in 1995, this 126-room Orient Express property provides a sumptuous sense of living amid history. New Year’s Package
Palacio Nazarenas Opened by Orient Express in 2012, this 55-suite boutique property also in downtown Cusco has a luxurious, intimate feel and an Andean-inspired restaurant and spa.
Tambo del Inka, Urubamba In the Sacred Valley, this two-year-old riverside Starwood property has 128 rooms, an amazing Peruvian-fusion restaurant, soaring ceilings, and Inca/eco-inspired décor.
Machu Picchu Pueblo, Urubamba An exquisite collection of 85 casitas on 12 beautifully landscaped acres.
Westin Lima High-tech, with 301 rooms housed in Peru’s tallest skyscraper on the edge of the San Isidro district, it boasts a spectacular spa and a restaurant run by a graduate of El Bullì.
Country Club Amid embassies, also in San Isidro, it’s a classically elegant 83-room national monument, originally built in 1927.
Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica Lodge A luxury jungle lodge experience like no other in Tambopata, its 36 thatched-roof riverside cabins include a real treehouse.
Photos (all on Flickr): Jörgen Nybrolin; Ibán; Elena María; Howard G Charing; ambientalturismo
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