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The north of Peru is recognized as one of the best places to travel in 2018

The fascinating north of Peru was recognized before the eyes of the world. According to the magazine Conde Nast Traveler of the United States, this macro-region is one of the best places to travel during 2018.

Northern Peru

Exploring the jungle-lined trails of Northern Peru, along the Pacific coast, gives you 2018's most valuable travel takeaway: ultimate bragging rights. That's because while the hordes have been ogling Machu Picchu for decades, to such degree that travel in is now restricted, the pre-Incan villages and Spanish colonial towns of the country's north have been left widely off the radar.

Get there first this year with Red Savannah, which is launching tours that will take you first to colorful, 1,500-year-old friezes inside the Temple of the Moon near Trujillo, a fortified Colonial Spanish city.

From there you'll explore Chan Chan, South America's largest city from the pre-Columbian era, made entirely of adobe, before touring the impressive 200-strong collection of 15th-century Incan mummies in Leymebamba. Full disclosure: The roads can be bumpy and unpaved at times. But the newly opened Lodge in Gocta, surrounded by the Andes with views of the area's waterfalls, has four-poster beds and an excellent on-site restaurant to help restore you for the hike through the cloud forest the next day. —E.F.

Tourism Overtaking Machu Picchu's Mystical Appeal

Archaeologists still aren't sure exactly when Machu Picchu was built, but the consensus seems to be that the city is at least 600 years old. It appears to have been home to about 1,000 people, perhaps the Inca elite, who may have lived there during part of the year to conduct religious ceremonies. The city features several temples that align with the sun at certain times of the year, demonstrating the Incas' remarkable grasp of astronomy—not to mention their construction skills. Stone walls on the finer buildings were laid without mortar; blocks of granite weighing several tons are fitted so precisely that a piece of paper will hardly fit into the joints.

The city was mysteriously abandoned around the time of the Spanish conquest, in the 1500s. It was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham, whose articles and photographs about it captivated millions.

A road to the site was built in 1948, and reconstruction opened the way for tourists. UNESCO named the city a World Heritage Site in 1983. But for decades, only the hardiest made the journey.

Even today, reaching Machu Picchu is something of an ordeal. Most foreign visitors fly first to the Peruvian capital of Lima, then catch a one-hour flight to Cusco, the Incan capital. Tourists then make their way to the tiny town of Aguas Calientes, either by an 30-minute helicopter flight or by a three-hour train ride through picturesque farmland and deep gorges between towering mountain peaks. From there they board shuttle buses that climb a rutted road that switches back up the steep mountain face. Other visitors depart the train before reaching Aguas Calientes and take a four-day hike.

Many visitors say the site still appears well managed, with clearly defined trails, ropes surrounding a few precious relics and guides overseeing large groups. "It was great," said Jerry Bisig of Dunwoody, Georgia, who visited recently with an alumni group from Georgia Tech. "It was completely peaceful up there, and I thought the Peruvians are doing a great job of protecting it."

Despite the hardships, the number of visitors has climbed steadily, with 66,000 taking to the Inca Trail in 1998, compared with 6,000 in 1984. The total number of visitors has mushroomed fourfold in the past decade.

"Without Machu Picchu, this town would be dust and dung," said Carlos Sanchez, who runs a small souvenir shop in Cusco. "We need the tourists."

Where are Peru's 'secret waterfalls'?

Bloomberg Pursuits, a luxury and lifestyle hub, chose 8 international locations with secluded falls. Where is Peru hiding these gems?

Do you know where Peru’s secret waterfalls are hidden?

Well, if you did, then they wouldn’t be secret.

Bloomberg’s told us once before: there’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu. Now the site’s luxury and lifestyle magazine, Bloomberg Pursuits, may be retracting their older sibling’s statement.

The magazine recently published an article divulging the top 8 international destinations for secret waterfalls that are so mesmerizing that “they’ll make your next vacation magic.” According to the article, there are two “little-known” waterfalls in the vicinity of Machu Picchu.

The first is unnamed, but perhaps you’ll recognize it from these clues: it’s located in Aguas Calientes, and lies at the end of a trail where guides lead guests, pointing out pre-Inca petroglyphs along the way.

The second Machu Picchu fall are a bit easier to find, if only because they have a name. The Mandor falls are located in Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (in Aguas Calientes) and the famed Incan citadel.

The list continues to details secret nature getaways in countries as diverse as Thailand and Norway. It just goes to prove that beauty is more than having a name as familiar as Niagara or Iguazu.