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Orient-Express’ Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco, Peru
Orient-Express’ Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco, Peru

This article originally appeared in the Central & South America Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full guide, visit the digital edition.

Tourism to Peru is booming and its capital city is now a must-visit destination. What’s old is new in Lima, showing off her rich history in the Larco Museum and highlighting her colonial splendors with the Magic Circuit of Water—high-tech fountains set to lights and music in historic Plaza Mayor. Of course, every first-time and repeat traveler heads to Cusco, gateway by rail to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. But nowadays, more and more travelers are heading north of Lima to the lands where the well-excavated and monumental sites of Peru’s most ancient civilizations thrived. First stop is colonial Trujillo, gateway to Chan Chan—the largest pre-colonial city in South America—andChiclayo, close to Lambayeque, hosting the stunning Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, as well as Tucume’s Valley of the (26) Pyramids, the once-grand capital of the Sican culture. Recommend heeding the call of the wild, flying north from Lima to the lively port of Iquitos that sits right on the banks of the Amazon River. Most visitors come to explore the jungle, taking off along the river to one of many fine lodges that provide walks in the rainforest, visits to native villages and boat rides to go birdwatching and fishing for piranhas. Puerto Maldonado is the air gateway to Peru’s southern Amazonia. Dugout canoes ply the Madre de Dios River and cross the still waters of Lake Sandoval for a close-up look at giant river otters, macaws and turtles. And in the same corner of the rainforest is the Manu Biosphere Reserve, home to more than 1,000 bird species, including the brilliant-red Andean cock-of-the-rock. (

What’s New in Peru

✘ The new-build, 207-room Hilton Lima Miraflores will open by the end of 2012, debuting the first Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand in Peru. Among its accommodations there will be 45 executive rooms and nine suites; other facilities include a full-service restaurant, lobby bar, and sky terrace with heated outdoor pool, spa and fitness center. (

✘ Hotel Barranco is scheduled to open in January 2013 in Lima’s seaside bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. Operated by the luxury travel company, The Andean Experience, the deluxe, 17-suite boutique hotel occupies the restored premises of a 1914 belle epoque villa and includes a private spa and a signature restaurant by Rafael Osterling, one of Peru’s best-known chefs. (

✘ In Cusco, following a painstaking 3-year restoration and rebuild, Orient-Express’ Palacio Nazarenas emerged this spring as a sophisticated all-suite property. Once a 16th century palace and convent, now guests find 55 suites appointed with antiques and hand-crafted furnishings, marble baths with heated floors, heated outdoor pool, locavore restaurant, and handicraft boutique. Room prices include breakfast and 24-hour butler service. (

✘ The latest addition to Peru’s inventory of rainforest accommodations is Hacienda Concepcion, a new concept from the luxury hotel chain Inkaterra that offers an all-inclusive stay at a budget-friendly price point. Located on 2,000 acres about a 20-minute boat ride down-river from Puerto Maldonado, the Hacienda features a main lodge with eight twin rooms, dining room and social spaces, as well as seven individual cabanas. (

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