Ok, hope you enjoyed reading about some of the places on list 1.
Moving on , I would say Peru is a hotspot right now.
Lake Titicaca, which straddles Peru’s border with Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world—and one of the most beautiful. The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, which would be stunning anywhere, are truly spectacular in their Andean setting, high above the Urubamba River. And Cusco, once the center of the Inca empire and now a vibrant gateway to Inca ruins, is also high in the Andes.
Yet even at sea level, Peru can leave you breathless. With unspoiled beaches, coastal desert, deep canyons and dense Amazon jungle, its variety of natural wonders is astonishing.
Then, there are the cultural treasures. The contrast between old and new runs throughout the land: Poncho-clad indigenous peoples walk their llamas through modern cities, past Spanish cathedrals built on the foundations of ancient Inca ruins. Giant, stylized designs were etched in the earth by the Nazca—a great pre-Columbian civilization.
Peru is where pre-Columbian culture reached its most graceful peak. Like the Parthenon in Greece or the Pyramids of Egypt, the Inca and pre-Inca ruins of Peru provide an unforgettable glimpse of the genius of a lost world.
Peru ranks among the highest places in the world in biodiversity, with 84 of the 104 known life zones on the planet found in the country.
Peru is one of the countries in the world with the largest variety of orchids—2,800 classified and as many as 3,000 unclassified.
Peru has some of the world’s best waves for surfing, and Peruvian Sofia Mulanovich was ranked the No. 1 female surfer in the world in 2004.
Peru is one of the world’s largest asparagus producers and exporters, but the vegetable is rarely eaten by Peruvians.
Lima’s metropolitan area population accounts for close to one-third of the nation’s total population.
With more than 1,800 species of birds—more than in all of North America and Europe combined—Peru is a mecca for birdwatchers.
Ok, some of the hotels:
Country Club Hotel (Lima) – http://www.hotelcountry.com
Hotel Monasterio (Cusco) – http://www.monasteriohotel.com
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (Machu Picchu) – http://www.sanctuarylodgehotel.com
Miraflores Park (Lima) – http://www.miraflorespark.com
Palacio Nazarenas (Cusco) – http://www.palacionazarenas.com
Some info on Machu Pichu:
Machu Picchu, at an elevation of 8,000 ft/2,450 m (much lower than nearby Cusco), has the most spectacular setting of any ruin in the world—even those who aren’t normally excited by archaeology will be impressed. This Lost City of the Incas is a place everyone must see at least once.
Unknown to the outside world until Yale’s Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911, Machu Picchu sits on the spine of a ridge 2,000 ft/610 m above the rushing Urubamba River. Capping the end of the ridge is Huayna Picchu, a soaring peak that offers a challenging climb—and a bird’s-eye view of the complex as a reward. Once atop Huayna Picchu, linger for a view of the surrounding misty green-clad mountains and you’ll understand why the last Incas chose to hide there.
Machu Picchu’s grassy central court is surrounded by almost 200 houses, palaces and temples built from perfectly fitted stone blocks. Especially notable are the Temple of the Sun (the only round building), the Temple of the Three Windows (trapezoidal openings), the Sacristy (full of mysterious niches) and the Intihuatana (Hitching Post of the Sun). Stone and earth terraces (designed for farming and defense) descend the mountain around three sides of the city—the fourth side is a sheer cliff.
To get to Machu Picchu, take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, a trip of 70 mi/115 km northwest. The ride itself is an adventure—it leaves Cusco in the early morning, climbs switchbacks, descends into a valley and passes through villages before reaching its destination. Many travelers prefer to take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes—it’s cheaper and faster. From the Aguas Calientes station, buses cross a boulder-strewn stream and takes visitors up 14 switchbacks to (expensive) Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (rooms must be booked months in advance), adjacent to the entrance.
You can see the ruins on a day trip from Cusco, but you’ll miss the eerie, misty sunset and an even more magical sunrise over the ruins if you don’t spend the night. An overnight stay is best done at the village of Aguas Calientes, which has hotels from budget to luxury standards.
If you’re feeling really fit, you could reach the ruins via the famous Inca Trail, an ancient pathway that passes through cloud forests, gorges and ancient Inca outposts before descending into Machu Picchu. The number of hikers on the Inca Trail is limited to 500 per day (about 200 tourists plus guides and porters), and everyone must be accompanied by a government-certified guide. (Many outfitters in Cusco or Lima can arrange this, but reservations must be made four months in advance.) It takes between two and four days to reach Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail. The Inca Trail is closed during the month of February for maintenance.
It’s surprising how close a visit to French Polynesia comes to fulfilling the ideal of paradise. The islands, which include Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea, are still largely quiet and move at a slow pace outside Papeete, Tahiti’s busy capital city. The lagoons of French Polynesia are still amazing shades of blue or green; the mountains still rise dramatically above the sea.
And though the residents of French Polynesia may spend more time buzzing around in SUVs than paddling outrigger canoes, they still (cliched as it may sound) spend an inordinate amount of time humming or singing, and many wear flowers in their hair.
But as with most things beautiful, French Polynesia isn’t easily had as a travel destination. A (decidedly chic) thatch-roofed bungalow there can cost you 68,400 CFP a night or more, and there are few bargains to be found in dining, activities or transportation. However, those who can afford a vacation in the islands of French Polynesia aren’t likely to be disappointed. And were it not for the travel price tag, you might be tempted to stay forever.
Still super popular with honyemooners, this is a more undiscovered island- Tuamotus.
Tikehau Pearl Resort – http://www.pearlresorts.com/tikehaupearlbeachresort
Kia Ora – http://www.eu.hotelkiaora.com
Kia Ora Sauvage – http://www.eu.hotelkiaora.com
Lagoon with view of Mount Otemanu
Hyperbole seems to surround Bora Bora, French Polynesia. (Locals often refer to it with a singular “Bora.”) Author James Michener called Bora Bora “the most beautiful island in the world,” which may be a stretch, though its steep mountain peak and brilliant lagoon certainly are beautiful.
More recently, Bora has been targeted by some travel writers as the French Polynesian island where tourism has gotten out of control—too many hotels, too many people, too much traffic. Apparently too many hotel rooms were built too quickly, however, for the global economic slump of the late 2000s saw several major resorts close their doors and shutter their over-the-water bungalows for lack of sufficient business.
The island, 160 mi/260 km northwest of Papeete, does get a lot of visitors (many of them from Europe and the U.S.), but it’s still a far cry from a Cancun- or Florida-style buildup. (Some of the bustle results from the fact that Bora is rather small compared to larger tourist islands such as Moorea.) The amazingly clear blue-green water alone is enough to satisfy most visitors.
Black pearl boutiques and fancy restaurants line the road south from Vaitape, and frugal travelers may feel out of place. Yet snorkeling among the myriad lagoon fish near Matira Point is free, and in a half-day you can easily peddle a rental bicycle the 20 mi/32 km around the island.
One of French Polynesia’s “big three” tourism islands, Moorea sits right next door to Tahiti, 12 mi/20 km northwest of Papeete and just a five-minute flight from the international airport or a 20-minute ferry ride from Papeete’s harbor.
Despite their proximity, Moorea is quite different from the capital. There’s no urban buildup (in fact, the populated areas are villages more than towns), and the large island absorbs its many visitors with few signs of stress. With a turquoise lagoon, several bays and steep mountains, Moorea ranks with Bora Bora in the looks department. All in all, it’s a terrific place to spend three nights, though many devote a week or more to the island.
Ok- to be continued!
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