Beyond Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail, climaxing with a visit to the mysterious and striking Machu Piccu is a definite highlight on The Great Global Bucket List.   Yet, between 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, South America’s best culinary scene, the Amazon jungle and Lake Titicaca, there’s more to add to a Peru Bucket List. 

Here are some more Peruvian Bucket List experiences to put on your radar.

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Ballestas Islands

Introducing a group of small islands near the town of Paracas, renowned for bucket list wildlife viewing. This includes one of the largest sea lion colonies in the world, and 150 species of marine birds such as the Humboldt penguin and blue-footed booby. The protected can only be accessed via an organized boat tours, which includes a visit to the Candelabra geoglyph – a giant three-pronged figure etched into the sandy hills thought to be an ancient navigational guide marker.

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White City of Arequipa

The buildings of Arequipa are constructed of white stone quarried from three surrounding volcanoes: Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu. The effect: a city that literally glows whether by sun in the day or by city lights at night. The historic centre has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the colonial structures and integration of indigenous and Spanish cultures. Not too far away is Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world.

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Tambopata Natural Reserve

Welcome to one of the most diverse conservation areas on the planet. Covering 274,690 hectares, Tambopata is home to 632 species of birds, 1,200 species of butterflies, 169 species of mammals and 205 types of fish. This includes rare and endangered species like the maned wolf and marsh deer.

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Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca

Not only is Lake Titicaca the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest lake in South America (by volume), it’s also home to a group of about 63 artificial floating islands made up entirely of reeds. The islands are inhabited by some 2,000 Uros or “lake people.” They continue to build their boats and houses with reed bundles, living and fishing according to their ancient traditions.

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Nazca Lines

To witness the Nazca Lines, visitors must fly over the region in a plane as the shapes are so large they can only be witnessed from the sky. Ancient geometric lines crisscross the Nazca desert and include many animal glyphs and shapes. These mysterious “sketches” are thought to be made by a pre-Inca civilization; however their purpose still remains unclear. The lines were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

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Luxury Cruises on the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest comprises about 60% of Peru’s natural territory. One of the best ways to explore this rainforest is at a leisurely pace on a small, luxury cruise boat. Several operators offer nature-based, luxury cruises starting in Iquitos that take visitors up close to wildlife and the natural beauty of the region. Along the way passengers might spot a three-toed sloth, toucans, macaws, turtles or even the endangered pink dolphin.

 

This post is brought to you by Prom Peru.

Skypoint over the Gold Coast

Just as surely as humans have always felt an inexplicably strong desire to erect large buildings (all the way back to Babel, baby!), so a second group follow close behind with the desire to climb to the top of them. A third group wants to jump off with bungee ropes or parachutes, and we call them: lunatics. This post concerns itself with the more agreeable climbing party, including those ascending above the bronzed beach and looping canals of Gold Coast, Australia.

Gold Coast (which is a city, not a coastline) is a tourist mecca in Queensland, buttressed by sandy beaches that stretch on forever.   The highest building in the city is the iconic Q1 Resort and Spa Building, and the highest external building climb in the country takes place above the Q1 Observatory.    Suited up in grey overalls and a safety harness, I follow my cheery guide to the elevator which bullets climbers to Level 77 in just 42.7 seconds.  The Observation Deck offers 360-degre views of the city, the coastline, the information placards and snack bar.   Which is why we open the Skypoint Climb door, climb up a ladder, snap in our safety caribiners, and peer down a sheer 270 metre vertical drop (truly, the last place you’d ever want to drop your phone, which is why you’re not allowed to bring cameras or phones with you).


I follow my guide up the 140 stairs to the summit, sliding my safety hook along the angled rails. The breeze is brisk, the heavens blue, and the view extraordinary. Turquoise waves roll into the pretzel-coloured beach with the kind of consistency one would expect in a neighbourhood named Surfers Paradise. Behind and below me are the canals that shape the city’s character, framed by riverfront properties and boat docks.
“Must be fun to swim on those canals?” I inquire.
“Oh, nobody swims in the canals,” replies my guide. “Too many bull sharks.”
Best we keep our pleasure dips to the ocean then, where shark nets protects bathers and surfers from sharks confusing them for something they’d actually enjoy taking a bite of.

On a platform at the summit, I’m invited to lean back, trusting all my weight to the harness. You’d have to weigh as much as a bull to put pressure on the harness, so this is all completely safe, even for those afraid of heights (although the Sky Point website does say that a true acrophobic need not apply). I moonwalk. I ogle. I peer at the row of tall buildings that line the coast, and wonder why nobody thought to climb around the edge of their summits first. Probably because they don’t look nearly as striking as the Q1 Building. We return to the Observation Deck, where I learn more about Gold Coast, lifeguards, the canals, and the Great Barrier Reef. 47.7 seconds after stepping into the elevator, I’m back on the ground, popping my ears, craning my neck to see if I can spot the very top of this 325m building. Another day, and another high, ticking off The Great Global Bucket List.

The SkyPoint Climb lasts around 90 minutes, open to those 12 and up with no debilitating physical conditions. This includes being drunk, which is why they breathalyser you before you go up. Climbers must wear enclosed, rubber-soled shoes (leave the flip flops at the beach). Your valuables are locked up but you can bring sunglasses and prescription eyeware with a provided attachment. Overalls and harnesses are also provided. Parking is complimentary in the Visitors Parking, and your ticket includes access to the Observation Deck. Your guide takes photo and video, which is for sale after the excursion. You can choose a Day Climb, Twilight Climb, an early morning breakfast climb, or one of several Climb and Dine Packages.

For more info, visit: http://www.skypoint.com.au/