When it comes to nature’s gifts, Peru seems to have stolen the lion’s (or perhaps jaguar’s) share. Peru possesses the world’s most bio-diverse rainforests, breathtaking mountains, highest altitude lake, plunging canyons, vast deserts and a long Pacific coastline. When combined with such cultural treasures as magical Machu Picchu, glorious Cusco and a host of other pre-Columbian sites and Spanish colonial cities, it is easy to understand why Peru is one of South America’s most appealing and popular destinations.

Wildlife-wise, the rainforest reserves of southeast Peru are considered the most species-rich in all Amazonia. Parrot clay licks provide an awesome avian spectacle; oxbow lakes hold families of giant otter (some six feet long); towering jungle platforms afford unrivalled views over verdant rainforest canopies. In addition, Peru’s high Andean peaks reveal stunted paramo habitat and the mighty condor in flight, and the Pacific coast’s Paracas Marine Reserve has been likened to a mini-Galapagos.