Marvel from the coast to the Andes
The gods in Peru must have considered the landscape a test of ingenuity - they formed a country with 20,000-foot-high mountains, desert stretches, and rain forests, a country in which the earth shakes and condors soar through the sky. Manco Capac, according to legend the first Inca, was quick to consider himself a deity, demanded reverence, and laid the groundwork for an ancient civilization whose temple ruins and houses still induce amazement. The former Inca capital, Cusco, is nowadays a top tourist destination and the starting point for visitors who, by train and on foot, begin their pilgrimage along the "Inca Trail" to the well-maintained Inca city Machu Picchu. Those who have more time begin the journey in the capital, Lima, and continue 280 miles south to Nazca, close to which can be seen mysterious lines and figures buried in the desert centuries before the Inca culture emerged. The city Arequipa is a great stopover on the way to Lake Titicaca, South America's largest freshwater lake and starting point for tours into the Colca Canyon. These tours traverse paths 13,000 feet high; travelers often experience altitude sickness. As a remedy, Peruvians swear by the coca leaf, either chewed or ingested in tea or candy.