History and Climatology Lessons from Two of Peru’s Top Tourist Sites



Greg Gullberg is a highly accomplished and respected television journalist, but he also has a very colorful academic background in anthropology and astronomy. While in college, Gullberg was a research field assistant on an Archeo-Astronomical expedition in Peru. His team was studying the ancient Inca civilization which was devastated by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. They studied the relationship between Incan artifacts and the constellations in the night sky. Their research sites varied wildly between remote locations at the tops of mountains to the famous tourism destination of Machu Picchu.

Peru is a beautiful country offering all the trappings of a popular South American tourist destination: high mountains, deep rain forests, a vibrant culture, and a rich history. Here are two popular Peruvian sites that both dazzle and educate:

Islas Uros

Forming Lake Titicaca’s main attraction, these floating islands are nestled just seven kilometers east of Puno, a vibrant trade hub in South America. The islands are constructed with the floating totora reeds growing in the lake so the ground is soft and springy. Layers and layers of reeds form the foundation of the islands and natives must constantly replenish the top layers as the bottom ones rot away. The edible reeds are also used to construct homes and boats. Built centuries ago to enable their escape from hostile tribes, the history of the native Uros people is interwoven with the reeds, enriching tourists with a powerful lesson on innovating for survival.

Cordillera Blanca

It is the world’s highest range of tropical mountains and includes some of South America’s highest peaks. These include Nevado Alpamayo, which stretches 5,947 meters into the sky and was once described by the Austrian Alpine Club as the world’s most beautiful mountain. Others include Peru’s highest mountain, Nevado Huascaran, which rises 6,768 meters, Nevado Santa Cruz, and Nevado Quitaraju. Located in the tropics, the mountain glaciers here have significantly retreated over the decades and so has the snow line, giving tourists a peek into the effects of global warming.