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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Have You Heard of These Peruvian Holidays?

Getting the chance to witness the holiday celebrations of foreign countries is one of the greatest pleasures of travelling. While Peru recognizes many of the most popular international holidays – public holidays include Christmas and May Day (International Labor Day) – Peru also has many holidays and national celebrations that are unique to the area. In this post, we’ll discuss four holidays celebrated in Peru that you probably haven’t heard about before.

Fiestas Patrias

The Fiestas Patrias, or Patriotic Holidays, is the Peruvian national holiday that celebrates Peru’s liberation from the Spanish Empire and the declaration of its independence in 1821. Unlike Independence Day in the US, the Fiestas Patrias takes place over two days: July 28th and July 29th. The celebration begins on the 28th with a 21 cannon salute and a flag-raising ceremony, after which the members of the Peruvian Congress travel to the Government Palace and officially invite the President to give the annual Address to the Nation, Peru’s equivalent of the State of the Union. If a new president has been elected that year, July 28th is also the day that he or she assumes the duties of the office.

The Fiesta Patrias is one of the most important holidays in Peru, and shops and houses across the country fly the Peruvian flag to commemorate the country’s founding. The holiday is also one of the country’s tourist attractions, and one of the most important days for business – local stores often take in as much money during the Fiestas Patrias as they do during the Christmas and other prime shopping seasons.

Peru Independence Day
Figure 1 – La Indepencia del Peru by Juan Lepiani (Public Domain)

The Feast of Santa Rosa de Lima

Peru is a heavily Catholic country, and many of the most important Christian celebrations are also national holidays, including Christmas, Easter, and All Souls Day. Of all the Catholic-themed celebrations that are observed in Peru, the Feast of Santa Rosa de Lima is the one that is most tied to the country itself. Rosa of Lima was the first person born in the Americas to be canonized a saint by the Catholic Church, and is recognized as the patron saint of both Peru and the country’s indigenous people. The Church currently recognizes Santa Rosa’s feast day as taking place on August 23rd, but Peru, along with most other Latin American countries, still observes its national holiday in her honor on the original date of August 30th.

Santa Rosa de Lima
Figure 2 – Painting by Angelo Medoro (Public Domain)

Battle of Angamos

On October 8th of every year, Peruvian workers take the day off to commemorate the Battle of Angamos, a naval battle that took place in 1879. The battle was part the War of the Pacific, a three-way conflict between Peru, Chile, and Bolivia, and the Battle of Angamos was one of its most important events. During the battle, Chilean forces killed Peruvian admiral Miguel Grau and seized his ship, the Huáscar. Grau is remembered as a Peruvian national hero, and the loss at Angamos and the seizing of the Huáscar are still sore spots in the country’s history. To this day, the Huáscar remains in Chile’s possession. After Angamos, the ship was repaired and sailed under the Chilean flag until it was decommissioned, and was later turned into a floating museum.

Combat of Angamos
Figure 3 – Naval Combat of Angamos, 1879 (Public Domain)

Inti Raymi

A remnant of Peru’s Inca heritage, Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”) is the Peruvian celebration of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Inti Raymi falls in June, during the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. A theatrical recreation of traditional Inti Raymi ceremonies has been held every year since 1944 on June 24th. Held at Saksaywaman (just two kilometers north of Cusco), the event attracts thousands of tourists and revelers every year. While Inti Raymi is not an official national holiday, it is still celebrated by indigenous people throughout the Andes region of South America, and is often connected by Catholic Peruvians with the feast day of John the Baptist, which falls on June 21st.

Inti Raymi Peru
Figure 4 – By Cyntia Motta (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Want to see one or more of these unique holidays in person? Book your trip with Best Peru Tours today. Don’t wait to make your reservation – holiday tours fill up fast!

3 Surprising Peruvian Animal Facts

Peru is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, and is home to many mammals, reptiles, plants, and other forms of wildlife. When visiting Peru, travellers have the chance to see a large selection of animals in the wild that they may not be able to see anywhere else in the world.

Want to learn more about? Here’s 3 surprising facts about animals in Peru that you may not know.

Peru is Home to More Species of Bird Than Any Other Country

Peru may be famous for Macchu Picchu and the Andes mountains, but nearly 60% of the country is actually covered by rainforest. Peru contains the largest section of the Amazon rain forest of any country after Brazil, meaning that it is home to an incredibly diverse section of animals and plant life, including the largest selection of bird species in the known world. There are 1,879 known species of birds in Peru, 139 of which are found nowhere else in the world. While some of these birds were introduced to the area, the majority of them are native species, including the Andean cock-of-the-rock, Peru’s national bird.

Peru's national bird
Figure 1 – By chdwckvnstrsslhm (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Guinea Pig is a Peruvian Delicacy

In the US, guinea pigs are a house pet found in pet stores near the rabbits and other small furry domesticated animals. In Peru, however, the guinea pig is an important part of traditional folk culture, as well as a common source of protein. Guinea pig meat, known as cuy, was originally a ceremonial meal eaten by Andean natives, but since the 1960s it has been a dietary staple; Peruvians eat an estimated 65 million guinea pigs every year. In fact, guinea pig is such a popular food in Peru that the painting of the Last Supper in the main cathedral in Cusco features Jesus and his disciples dining on cuy.

Peru Culinary - Cuy
Figure 2 – By Robert Ennals from Cambridge, England (Roast Guinea Pig) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Llamas Have Lived In Peru For 3 Million Years

Llamas are possibly the Andes’ most famous animal, and have been used as pack animals since before the arrival of European settlers. But the llama’s history in the region goes back much further than that. The llama originated 40 million years ago on the central plains of North America, where they went extinct during the last ice age. But before their extinction in the Northern Hemisphere, many of the animals had migrated south, making a home for themselves in the Andes where they continue to thrive long after their northern relatives have disappeared. The llama’s presence in the area goes back several millennia before the first human civilization in the Americas; the oldest known human settlement in both North and South America, Caral-Supe in Peru, is only 5,000 years old.

Llama Machupicchu
Figure 3 – By Schuyler Shepherd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Want to see Peru’s vast selection of amazing animals in person? Contact Best Peru Tours today to book your trip today!

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Peru

Most people know about Machu Picchu and the Incas, but there’s a lot more to Peruvian history and culture than that. Peru holds an important place in world history in regards to food, culture, and sport, one that stretches back hundreds and even thousands of years. With that in mind, here’s four surprising things about Peru that you probably didn’t know before now.

Peru is the Home of the Potato

Many Americans associate the potato with Ireland, but potatoes have only been grown in Europe since the mid 16th century. Before that, wild potatoes were only found in the Americas, and geneticists have traced the world’s most famous tuber’s origin to modern day southern Peru, where potatoes were first domesticated as far back as 8,000 BC. While many non-Peruvians have no idea that potatoes originally come from Peru, Peruvians are well aware of the connection; “I’m more Peruvian than the potato” (“Soy mas Peruano que la papa“) is a common idiom expressing national pride. Think “more American than apple pie.”

Potato Peru
Figure 1 – See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Western Hemisphere’s Oldest University is in Peru

When you think of old American universities, you probably think Harvard, Yale, or one of the other Ivy League schools on the eastern seaboard of the United States. But while Harvard (founded 1636) may be the oldest institute for higher learning in the US, it’s still nearly a hundred years younger than the National University of San Marcos, which was founded in Lima in 1551 by decree of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. La Universidad consistently ranks as one of the best schools in the country, and its alumni include many notable South American scientists, engineers, and thinkers, including Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.


Figure 2 – By Eugene Courret (Courret Historical File & Archives from Peru) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Peru is One of the World’s Greatest Surfing Spots

Surfing is often associated with California, Hawaii, and other famous North American beaches, but surfers from all over the world will tell you that Peru is one of the best places in the world to ride the waves Both the world’s largest left-handed wave, Chicama, and the world’s largest left-handed point break, Mancora, can be found in Peru, and the country has produced multiple internationally famous surfers, including 2004 female world champion Sofía Mulánovich. Surfing is a popular activity for many Peruvians, and even has its own national TV show, Surf Peru.

Mancora Peru
Figure 3 – By Jkbenites (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peru Has 3 Official Languages

Peru is generally recognized as a Spanish-speaking country, but the country also recognizes Quecha and Aymara as official languages. Named after two of the indigenous tribes from the area, both languages are spoken by millions of people; Southern Quecha, the versionof the Quechan language spoken in Peru, has over 6.9 million speakers spread across the Andes regions of South America. Spanish, Quecha, and Aymara aren’t the only languages spoken in Peru, either: natives in the Amazon Jungle areas of the country speak an estimated 13 different dialects.

Llama Peru
Figure 4 – By Kilobug (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Want to learn even more surprising things about Peru? Contact Best Peru Tours today to book your trip, or to learn more about our great tour packages.

Visit these 3 cities on your next vacation to Peru, you will find wonderful places and traditional food, ask your BPT travel agent about these cities

When someone asks for suggestions on the best places to visit in Peru, they’ll usually get the same few answers: Machu Picchu, the Inca Trails, the Nazca Desert. But there are many great places to visit in Peru that don’t involve a hike up a mountain or a trek to an ancient ruin. Peru is also home to vibrant cities and other interesting places to visit, including the three on this list.

Lake Titicaca’s Man-Made Islands

Most people have heard the name, but few are aware of just how many great sightseeing spots there are on and around Lake Titicaca. Titicaca is the largest lake in South America by volume, and is divided between Peru in the west and Bolivia in the East. Sources disagree about the origin of the lake’s distinctive name, with different people claiming it translates to either “Rock Puma” or “Crag of Lead.”

Popular tourist spots near Lake Titicaca include the city of Puno, a hillside town on the lake’s shore made up of mostly unfinished modern buildings. Puno is best known as the departure point for the Unos, a collection of 44 inhabited, artificial islands built out of totora reeds. Nearly 4,000 people live on these man-made islands, spread across ten different communities. The islands were originally built to be mobile military outposts from which the natives could defend themselves from attack. In recent years, they have become a popular tourist attraction, with local residents even opening up their doors to travellers and offering them home-cooked meals.

lake-titicaca

Figure 1 – By Leon Petrosyan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Trujillo

Trujillo is located in Northwestern Peru, and was founded in the mid-1500s by Spanish settlers. It is the second most populous city in the country, and the most populous Northern city in the country. Over the city’s long history, it has served as Peru’s capital two times, and is often called the “Capital of Culture of Peru.” It is the birthplace of Peru’s modern judicial system, home to multiple international festivals, and is recognized as the home of the Marinera, one of Peru’s most famous traditional dances.

In addition to its long history, Trujillo is an important spot in modern Peru’s development, as well. In 2011, the city launched the Trujillo: Sustainable City project, a plan to combat climate change, promote environmental sustainability, and improve overall quality of life. Trujillo has also partnered with IBM in an effort to become a modern “Smart City,” using technology to improve public safety and transportation.

Trujillo

Figure 2 – Panoramic view of the “Plaza de Armas” of Trujillo, on the left you can view the Cathedral from the city.

Lima

Many travellers only think of Lima as the launching point for Machu Picchu hiking tours or trips down the Inca Trail, but the city itself is filled with more than enough sites and culture to fill up an entire vacation. Lima is Peru’s capital and its largest city, and features a combination of multiple historic and modern architectural styles. Founded in 1551 by the conquistador Pizzaro, Lima’s Historic Centre has been declared a World Heritage Site, and is also host to one of the western hemisphere’s oldest operating universities, The National University of San Marcos.

Lima is home to many museums, galleries, sporting events, festivals, restaurants, and many other tourist destinations. For travellers looking to experience the full range of modern Peruvian life and culture in between trips to historical sites, Lima is a must-see destination.

lima

Figure 3 – By own, UNMSM (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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