Machu Picchu, an awe-inspiring feat of design and architecture, typically highlights a trip to Peru. However, there is much more to this South American country than ancient ruins. Dining and outdoor adventure also beckon, especially in fall -- when rates are lower than peak tourist season and the weather is drier.
Cuisine in this Andean country boasts a wide variety of corn and potatoes (2,500 spud selections). More notoriously, another local favorite is cuy -- a delicacy that most travelers are more familiar with as a pet than dinner: the guinea pig. Restaurants from Lima to Cusco spotlight fresh and seasonal gourmet food for much less than similar caliber eateries in the United States, saving cash for colorful local textiles or handmade trinkets.
Sightseeing and hiking in Peru provide additional opportunities for a taste of the native culture. These activities can lead to breathlessness and headaches at 10,000 feet or more. Try a steaming hot cup of coca tea to diminish the symptoms of altitude sickness. When closer to sea level or in the city, party like a local and ask the bartender for a Pisco Sour -- a mixed drink consisting of native pisco brandy, lemon juice, egg whites and sugar.
If hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu isn’t appealing, try a bus ride to the top the ruins instead. The only bus company providing service up the perilously winding road sells tickets in Aguas Calientes (the town at the base of Machu Picchu), and only accepts US cash. No credit cards or local currency is accepted, so save at least $14 for the roundtrip bus fare.
Some great deals, with fall travel dates, are: