Peru is perhaps best known as the site of the myth- and mist-shrouded Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, but it is so much more besides.
The vast jungles of Peru are home to the greatest diversity of plants and wildlife on earth, the rivers to the scariest white-water rafting anywhere, and the mighty Peruvian Andes to the best in unexplored adventure.
There are more ancient archeological sites in Peru than any other South American country, while Cuzco's Spanish colonial heritage and Incan historical foundations make for one of the most fascinating cities on earth.
From Lima's historic districts and famed gastronomy to trekking in the Sacred Valley and discovering the indigenous custodians of Lake Titicaca, Peru holidays are perfect for tailor-made travel and luxury indulgence.
When to go
Peru's climate varies across the country according to altitude, season and a variety of other factors. The coastal climate is affected by the cold Humboldt Current; cool sea air coming into contact with the hot desert sands condenses into rain during the winter months, from May to November, forming a thick sea fog that settles over the southern part of the coast and the cities here. However, it hardly ever rains. During the summer, the coast is hot and dry, especially in the north.
Inland, the dry season is from April to October. Temperatures are steady and consistently warm during the day but chilly at night and can drop below freezing. In the jungle, temperatures can climb high, to 35C, although the evenings are often chilled. November to April is the wet season. At tis time inland is cool and dry during the morning with showers typically in the afternoon. The jungle is hot and humid, with heavy rainfall possible at any time during these months.
A climactic effect known as El Niño affects Peru roughly every three to seven tears. The phenomenon, connected with warm water currents causing the average sea temperature to rise, isn't well understood but the results are dramatic and can include droughts, fires, crop failures and poor fishing
In general, the busiest time for foreign visitors is June to September. You should time when to go based on where you want to go and what you want to do though. The high season for coastal Peru is September and again from late December to March. In the highlands the high season lasts from May to September. The Amazon is best visited during the dry season, from April to October.
Capital - Lima
Size -1,285,216 sq km
Language - Spanish and Quechua are official languages; Aymara and Ashaninka, as well as a number of other native languages, are spoken.
Population - 29.5 million
Religion - More than three quarters of the country population are Roman Catholic, around 10% are evangelical and the remainder follow various smaller or traditional beliefs.
Currency - Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Time zone - GMT -5
Flight time from the UK - Depends on the length of time it takes to make your connection as there are no direct flights from the UK to Lima but typically expect to spend 13-15 hours travelling to Peru.
Peru's festivals are colourful, traditional affairs. Many of these occur in the wetter months but for example, the fiesta of La Virgen de la Candelaria in February, Carnaval on the weekend before Ash Wednesday and Semana Santa (the Holy Week that ends on Easter Sunday) continue despite the poor weather. Other festivals to be aware of include Q'ollyor Riti in late May or June, Inti Raymi on 24 June, the Feast of Santa Rosa de Lima on 30 August and El Señor de los Milagros, a celebration of the Lord of Miracles, on 18 October.
Most nationalities, including those in the European Union, North and South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, do not require a visa. Visitors are allowed a 30- to 90-day stay. You'll also receive an Andean Immigration Card upon arrival, which must be returned when you leave the country. If you lose this card you will be forced to get a replacement, which could involve a lengthy queue at the immigration office.
All visitors to Peru require a passport valid for at least six months after the end of their stay.
The Peruvian Nuevo Sol (s/) come sin notes of S/10, S/50, S/100 and S/200. It's also divided into 100 céntimos, with copper- and silver-coloured coins worth S/005, S/0.10, S/.20, S/0.50, S/1, S/2 and S/5. Restaurants, shops and markets work in local currency; make sure that you have small denomination notes as many people do not have change for larger bills.
More upmarket hotels and operators will also accept payment in US dollars. Other currencies are much less recognised.