Peru

The road journey from the Bolivian capital of La Paz to the town of Copacabana, close to the border with Peru, is interrupted by a channel of water.
While passengers are ferried across by small boats, their road vehicles - including lorries and buses - are driven onto fragile looking rafts and shunted across.
From there it is just a few miles to Copacabana which sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca, an inland sea which nestles at more than two miles above sea level in the heart of the Andes.
The waters of the lake are a startling blue and lap onto the pebbled shores which in turn rise to dusty hills tattooed with patches of greenery.
Apart from walking along the shores of the lake and into the surrounding hills there is little to do in Copacabana, but it is the sort of place where backpackers seem to stop for a few days and just hang out.
Crossing the border into Peru the road continues to skirt around Lake Titicaca to the busy town of Puno, which has a good selection of accommodation and places to eat.
From Puno it is possible to sail out onto the lake and visit the floating Uros islands which are made from hand-woven reeds and where the indigenous Uros people still live.
It is quite a bizarre experience to walk on the islands and feel the ground beneath your feet dip to every step, however most of the handmade artifacts on the market stalls fall into the handcraft by numbers category.
Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 15th century the Andean Plateau was dominated by the Incas, and the remains of their culture can be seen throughout Peru.
The Incan capital was Cusco, which lies about eight hours north of Puno and although the Spanish invaders tore down many of the Incan buildings to replace them with their own they retained the original foundations.
There has been a renewal of pride among Peruvians about their Incan heritage and in Cusco many streets have had their Spanish names changed into Quechua, the language of the indigenous people.
Some of the older buildings in Cusco have had their outer shells stripped away to show off the Incan brickwork - huge blocks of stone packed tightly together stand as testament to the architectural skills of the Incas and it is reported that when the Spanish conquistadors first came to Cusco they were covered in gold.
The gold is long gone and Spanish customs, including their language and religion, came to dominate much of South America
While many of the Incas were absorbed into that culture others fled deep into the surrounding jungles and founded the city of Machu Pichu, about 130 miles from Cusco.
It is not hard to understand why the Spaniards or subsequent generations of explorers never found the city, for it is surrounded by huge mountain ranges and dense forest.
When Machu Pichu was rediscovered in 1911 it had long been abandoned by the Incas and was completely overgrown by jungle.
The journey from Cusco to Machu Pichu starts by train, although many choose to hike the last 30 or so miles on what has become known as the Inca Trail.
The countryside is stunning, with rich green forest covering the huge craggy mountains and a frothy torrent of river flowing along side the rail tracks.
Machu Pichu itself sits perched on a mountain plateau, several thousand feet above the river which twists in the valley below.
Catching sight of the city is one of those genuinely breathtaking moments where you have to stop and try to assimilate what you are looking at.
A sprawl of ruined dwellings and temples are tightly packed together on the lush green plateau whose sides dip into man-made terraces before plunging into sheer drops to the valley below.
The people who built the city were obviously keen to ensure that it was as inaccessible as possible to outsiders, and given the number of temples on the site, archaeologists believe it was of considerable religious significance.
In one of the temples there are a dozen hollows built into the brickwork and even today when a dozen people take up positions here and hum into the alcove the sound reverberates around the brickwork into a powerfully amplified and primal drone.
From Machu Pichu it was back to Cusco and then a day or so later a 24-hour road journey to the Peruvian capital, Lima.
South of Lima is the Nazca desert where huge lines running for miles have been carved in the surface of the earth and which from the air can be clearly seen to form the shapes of birds and animals.
Given the fact that the Nazca lines are believed to be more than 1,400-years-old and their shapes are only apparent from the air there has been some wild speculation about the people who created them, ranging from advance human civilisations to alien invaders who used the lines as landing strips.
Lima itself is a huge smog-filled city, wracked with poverty following Peru’s ongoing economic collapse and where travellers should be wary.
Army tanks surround the country’s parliament in the Plaza de Armas, within view of the city’s main cathedral and just a few streets from the Spanish style monastery of Santo Domingo.
However, the city has its charms and a Sunday afternoon parade combining a Spanish style fiesta, with brightly decked altars and marching bands, indigenous Peruvian adults twisting in a curious ritual dance beside children dressed as Inca warriors, brings a collage of colour and spectacle to the streets.