:: Trekking beyond the mountains
Trekking is not just about mountains and rugged terrain. Some parts of the Peruvian coast combine the vast and apparently empty desert with the jagged coastline to create extraordinarily beautiful natural scenarios for hikers. One such spot is the Paracas desert south of Lima and Bayóvar, in the northern department of Piura.
On the other side of the Andes, along the steep eastern slopes, drenched by the constant rains from the Amazon plains, spreads the cloud forest. This land of impenetrable forests is believed to be the last refuge for a unique wildlife (orchids, bromeliads and tree-born ferns) and unique species on the verge of extinction (the spectacled bear, the dwarf deer and the yellow-tailed choro monkey). This area formed part of the vast and complex network of pre-Colombian roads that linked the highlands to the jungle. One of these routes leads to Kuélap, the Chachapoyas fortress deep in the jungle department of Amazonas.
Other fascinating routes in the eastern Andes include the trails that descend to the east of Cuzco and Puno, and make up spectacular, little-known circuits for trekking enthusiasts.
The peninsula and bay of Paracas, in the department of Ica, is criss-crossed by countless trails which make for first-rate trekking circuits. Plains of yellow saltpetre, shifting sand dunes and extraordinarily rich fishing grounds are the stomping ground for vast flocks of marine bird species and sea lions, which have created a unique environment along the Peruvian coast.
The far north of Peru is home to Bayóvar and its unspoiled beaches, a natural treasure of the department of Piura. Deep ravines, carved out by rivers long since dried up but which every 50 years spring to life to violently reshape the landscape; forests of twisted carob trees; flocks of migratory birds and a windswept desert are just some of the area's attractions.