What’s New in Peru for 2015
By Neil Kook
Ancient and urban adventure, a place as intricate as its most complex weavings, there are many reasons to visit Peru. Now there are even more; we take a look at what is new in Peru this year to help inform your trip.
1. New cable car to improve access to ‘a second Machu Picchu’
The Peruvian government has announced plans for a new cable car system which will provide easier access to an archaeological site in the north of the country. The fortress of Kuelap was built and developed between the sixth and sixteenth centuries by the Chachapoyas culture, on a ridge approximately 3,000 metres above sea level. The fortress is the largest stone structure in South America, containing around 450 stone houses. It was rediscovered in 1843 and declared a cultural heritage site in 2003. At present, visitors can reach Kuelap via a nine kilometre trek or a 90 minute drive from the town of Tingo Nuevo, while the cable car, projected to open in 2016, will improve accessibility by delivering tourists in less than 20 minutes. The development is significant for tourism in northern Peru and president Ollanta Humala has been reported as saying “Kuelap could be a second Machu Picchu, easily. With Kuelap, we can create a tourist circuit that will be as competitive as the south.”
The cable car is expected to have 26 cars carrying up to 10 passengers, potentially quadrupling the number of tourists visiting the site annually. A Spanish-language video illustrating the project can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP15cGqdP3k.
2. Puno’s Candelaria Festivity is recognised by Unesco
The Festivity of Virgen de la Candelaria of Puno has been added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. The festival takes place over the first two weeks of February each year, celebrating the patron saint of Puno, a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Processions, music and performances by costumed and masked dancers typify the festival, which involves over 50 thousand performers and is one of South America’s largest festivals, after the carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Oruro in Bolivia.
Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list looks beyond monuments and objects to include ‘traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors… such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events’ and more. With the inscription of the Festivity of the Virgen de la Candelaria in November 2014, Peru now has nine elements on the list including traditional dances, sung prayers and textile art.
3. New National Museum to open at Pachacamac
The Peruvian Ministry of Culture has announced that construction will begin in 2015 on a new National Museum of Peru in Pachacamac. Pachacamac is around 40 km south of Lima and it is considered to be the most important archaeological complex on the Peruvian desert coast. In the pre-Inca and Inca periods, pilgrims travelled there from the farthest reaches of ancient Peru. At least 17 pyramids have now been identified in the complex by archaeologists, along with palaces, plazas and temples. Local news reports that the new museum will house pieces from the Museo de la Nacion in San Borja and the Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History in Pueblo Libre, along with an extensive permanent collection made up from locally discovered relics. The museum is expected to open in mid-2016. Culture minister Diana Alvarez Calderon commented “Finally, Peru will have the museum that everybody has been waiting for.”
4. Choquequirao listed in National Geographic Traveler’s Top 20 destinations
While Kuelap will become more accessible to tourists in 2016, the Incan estate of Choquequirao has been named one of the 20 best places to visit in 2015 by respected travel authority National Geographic Traveler. Built by Topa Inca, the successor to Pachacuti who is presumed to have built Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is situated at an altitude of 9,800 feet, 61 miles west of Cusco. It shares architectural similarities with Machu Picchu but often receives less than 30 visitors per day, according to the publication, which selected its top 20 based on destinations that were ‘superlative, timely and authentic’.
“There are no better words to describe the magnificence of Choquequirao,” said Magali Silva Velarde-Alvarez, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism and President of the Board of PromPeru. “It is superlative for its immense architectural wealth, only comparable to Machu Picchu; it is timely because of the enormous efforts made by the State in its preservation, conservation and social use; and it is as authentic as each of the jewels offered by Peru’s wonderful ancient past.”
5. Lima’s art museum to open renovated second floor during 2015
MALI (Lima Art Museum) will reopen its second floor exhibition halls following renovation in mid-2015. The halls were remodelled through funding by the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism and contain much of the museum’s permanent collection, from the pre-Columbian period to the modern day. The new spaces will feature technology platforms including audio guides, video, augmented reality systems and interactive graphics to enhance the museum experience. The renovation follows the publication of a bilingual guide book and the publication of MALI’s entire collection in the online catalogue in 2014.
Upcoming exhibitions incorporate artists such as Abraham Cruzvillegas (Mexico), Sharon Lockhart (USA) and Marcel Odenbach (Germany). In September, the museum will mount a major exhibition in conjunction with the Chambi Archive, showing the largest selection of works by Peruvian photographer Martin Chambi.
6. Explorandes celebrates 40 years in the business in 2015 with special anniversary packages
Tour operator Explorandes was the first adventure company to operate commercial treks on the Inca Trail back in 1975 and 40 years on, the company has stayed true to its pioneering spirit, opening new trekking and rafting routes through the lesser known areas of Cordillera de Carabaya, Cordillera Blanca, Choquequirao, Manu National Park and Tambopata. In 2015, Explorandes is offering special fixed departures and rates to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a focus on respecting Peru’s natural resources and environment, as well as keeping local traditions alive. Also new for Explorandes is The Piuray Outdoor Center which will offer sea-kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, mountainbiking, yoga lessons, culinary lessons and other outdoors activities in partnership with Pongobamba and Stand Up Paddle Cusco.
7. Cajamarca Travel team part of new world record for birding
Along with an expert team from the University of the State of Louisiana, Cajamarca Travel set a new World Birding Record at the North Amazonian Birding Rally in Perú. The new record for the highest number of species spotted in 24 hours was achieved on Tuesday 14th October 2014, with 354 species being recorded in the Alto Mayo valley, San Martin. The previous record was held by Terry Stevenson with 342 species observed in Kenya on 30th November 1986. The Tour Operator Cajamarca Travel and its staff provided the necessary technical and logistical support to break the world record. Over the years Cajamarca Travel has contributed to highlighting Perú as a world-class birdwatching destination.
For further information on Peru, please see www.peru.travel.