Peru contains the most diverse geography and climate of any country I’ve ever been to. Imagine a place where you can visit the coast, the amazonian rain forests, and the mountainous highlands all in a couple of hours (by plane). Whether it’s sandy beaches or vast forests you’re looking for, Peru has the perfect place for you.
La sierra (“the highlands”) is the mountainous region of Peru that accounts for 40% of the country geographically. This region contains the second highest mountain range in the world extending from, and to, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
The highland hosts Mount Huascarán, at 6,768 meters above sea level, making it Peru’s highest peak (www.chimuadventures.com). It’s also home of the Artesonraju Mountain (best know for being the Paramount Pictures logo) and Machu Pichu.
The climate is the coldest of all regions of Peru. During summer (April through October), the days are hot and the nights cold with little rain; these are the best times to visit. During winter, temperatures can reach -3°C, and rain pours heavily.
The food shared in the highlands relies heavily on potatoes and rice. Chuño, a type of naturally freeze-fried potato, which has a high shelf-life and high nutrition value (usually used in soups) is native to this region. One of my favorite dishes of this region is “Pachamanca”, which is a dish containing meat, corn, and potatoes cooked in an “earth oven” (or “Huatia”).
The highlands is also home of various species of animals, some recognizable like the llama and alpaca.
The Manu National Park, home to around 200 species of mammals alone, and over a thousand plant species, is shared between the highland and jungle region of Peru. One cool aspect of the park is the fact that there are camps sites where one can stay the night and experience Peruvian nature for themselves.
Places that I recommend visiting when coming to the highlands region are Cuzco, Ayacucho, Huaraz and Puno (which are all more or less like states in the U.S.)