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A 45-minute drive from the port city of Callao brings you to exciting Lima, the City of Kings. From its founding in 1535 until today, it remains one of the most important cities in all South America. The handsome old buildings from the earliest colonial days surrounding the Plaza de Armas contrast with the soaring modern towers rising in the newer sections of the city.
Punta Islay is on the Southern Peruvian coast, along the Lagunas de Mejia National Marine Sanctuary where the Tambo River meets the Pacific Ocean. This is a crucial environment supporting prolific populations of birds. The town is near the important Pacific seaport of Matarani, which provides easy access to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Arequipa inland.
This major port on the southern coast of Peru is an important element in the current plan between the governments of Peru and Brazil to afford easy commercial movement between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans by both countries. Matarani is the gateway to Arequipa, where you discover its very interesting prehistory that spanned over 10,000 years, ending with the arrival of the Spanish in the 1530s. Arequipa is rich with not only Incan archaeology, but also various pre-Incan cultures, and even earlier nomadic hunter-gatherers.
Arica is fortunate to lie at the mouth of the fertile Azapa Valley, which is fed with water from the high Andes. In the middle of the 16th century, when a fabulously rich silver lode was discovered at Potosi (in present-day Bolivia), Arica became the shipping center and supply port for the mine. Located close to the Peruvian border and connected with La Paz by road and railway, it remains an important trade and shipping center. Because of its strategic location, Arica has been hotly contested among Chile, Bolivia and Peru. This is obvious in the unusually tight security measures you will find in the port.
Enjoy a performance of Chilean folk dances followed by a cocktail reception at Palacio Astoreca, a belle époque mansion from the ‘nitrate’ heyday.
A busy port hard by the arid and mysterious Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. With the wealth generated by minerals flowing from the barren land, they’ve managed to build a pleasant town of parks and plazas, conquering, for a while, the emptiness beyond. See the English clock ensconced in the Plaza Colon by British residents, and the uniquely hybrid architecture of the Customs House. In the manicured gardens and verges along Avenida O’Higgins, soil imported as ballast aboard visiting ore ships was used to augment the desert sands and nourish the greenery.
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