Almost any visitor to Peru would be able to tell you about the capital city Lima, the historic mountain vistas of Machu Picchu, the winding Spanish-alleys of Cusco or the vast expanses of Lake Titicaca. However, what they might now about are these four weird and wonderful attractions. From morbidly fascinating collections of anatomical curios to breath-taking natural wonders that equal anything the Inca people built thousands of years ago, these are just four uniquely interesting sights to see in a country that is packed full of them.
Just an hour drive from Cusco is this amazing mountain, known to locals as Vinicunca, with its multicoloured geological stripes of red, gold and turquoise. Prior to 2015 these stunning visuals just did not exist, as they were covered by layers of permafrost and snow for 99% of the year. However, climate change in the region has meant the snow cover now melts for longer and longer each year. This had made tourists visits possible, and people have been flocking here ever since.
Soon to become one Peru’s most visited sites, travellers are recommended to visit here sooner rather than later – before the government is expected to start limiting tourist numbers and imposing more restrictions. Oh, and its also at a very high altitude too. So, hikers are expected to prepare for that or otherwise pay the price with altitude sickness and insurance problems being a real possibility.
The Ossuary of Convento de San Francisco
Peru may today be one of the safest countries for tourists in South America, but that doesn’t mean the area hasn’t had a long and bloody history. One of the most unique tourists’ attractions in the capital city of Lima, The Ossuary of Convento de San Francisco is an ornamental collection of human bones takes full advantage of that morbid history by allowing visitors into a sombre experience unlike any other.
Right in the heart of the city, the ossuary contains the bones of an estimated 70,000 people spanning a dozen generations. Rediscovered in 1943, they are rumoured to be a part of an even larger network of catacombs that connect many local churches and Lima’s main cathedral. Visitors can only see this part of it however, looking down into this creepy subterranean burial ground through the floors of the church it is built over.
The Salt Pans of Maras
These fantastically arranged pools of saltwater cascading down a steep mountainside have been providing brilliant visuals for visitors, and sellable salt for the locals, for thousands of years. Salinas de Maras, as they are known to the people who live and work here, were built by the Incas in the 14th century – although many historians suspect they may have been here for much longer than that. Local salt gatherers still use the same non-invasive and sustainable techniques that their ancestors used to extract the useful mineral from these pools, and then sell bags of it at the local market. Sadly however, in 2019 the local government declared that tourists are no longer allowed to walk around the salt pans themselves – as the risk of contamination is too high.