For most people, Peru conjures images of cloud-covered Machu Picchu and traditionally garbed Amazonian tribes. But for discerning DINKs, mainstream destinations are just the tip of the traveler’s trailhead. On our couple’s vacations, we want romance and adventure sprinkled with mystery and buried treasure. Down the coast and across the Amazon, pre-Incan societies have flourished and vanished, burying their secrets inside their temples. For you and your courageous comrade, Peru is a place to rediscover ancient tombs, hike a mountain fortress, sip Pisco sours, and even learn to surf between treks.
Gliding Homemade Planes into the Pacific Ocean in Lima
Image: Neil Friedman
A vacation in Peru begins in Lima. Sprawling with neighborhoods as varied as bananas in a market, the Peruvian capital is home to over 8 million people and a myriad of haute cuisine eateries, high-end shopping, and all-night clubs. During the day, snack on caramel delights called tejas. Stroll through the Miraflores district and watch the world go by. In the hottest part of summer, vacationing duos can retreat to the shoreline at Callao, where in mid-December the city hosts its annual Flugtug, a competition where teams create their own glider planes and push them off a pier into the Pacific Ocean. The vessel with the best distance wins. For a few Peruvian Soles, pop open a beer and sit on the rocks for a hilarious afternoon of cardboard and piping crashing into the water.
Visit the Museum Acclaimed by Archaeologists As “The World’s Best”
On the northern edge of Peru’s Ruta del Moche, the desert has ripped apart the landscape. Sand swirls in every direction and shade is precious refuge under the afternoon sun. Along the famous Pan-American Highway, giant dunes sweep out to the horizon in a matrix of pointed peaks. But they are not dried mounds of dirt. They are manmade pyramids and include the most famous archaeological site of northern Peru, the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sipan. Gold, jewelry, ceramics, and no fewer than 8 human mummies accompanied the great magistrate to his afterlife. As real life tomb raiders, you and your SO can tread the path of archaeologists who have spent over two decades puzzling the meaning behind Sipan’s funerary chamber. Inside the beautifully constructed museum, illuminated lights guide visitors through the Moche pyramid-shaped building. The effect of low light and gilded copper will catapult you straight into the life of Sipan with treasures painstakingly recovered from the desert sands.
Hike to the Stone Fortress of Kuelap
Image: Neil Friedman
Rivaling Machu Picchu in beauty and grandeur, the stone fortress at Kuelap boasts mist enshrined turrets, sacrificial altars, and even sun-lazing llamas on the precipice. Kuelap straddles both jungle and highlands, earning it the nickname: Eyebrow of the Amazon. Built by the Chachapoyan people as a mountain top sanctuary, Kuelap is full of magic and mystery, beauty and history. But unlike its more famous cousin (Machu Pichu) in the south, there are no crowds or hordes of trekking backpackers jostling for their shot of the Inca’s great city. Let’s be honest. Unless we’re in a nightclub, we don’t like mobs. In Kuelap, you and your SO will actually hear birds and see livestock grazing on the grass. You can sweep your hand across stonewalls, 20 feet high and over 600 years old. While wandering the grounds, note the artistic craftsmanship of the granary and the chiseled designs in stone that are still employed on village houses below. Lara Croft never had it so good.
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