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We lost our heart to… Peru

Vast canyons, mysterious ancient cities and mountain adventures can't fail to create a truly unforgettable honeymoon experience says travel editor Amanda Statham

Viva Peru!

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Always a favourite amongst backpackers, this South American hot spot is now attracting newlyweds too, thanks to an abundance of hotels that are more luxe-boutique-retreat than hostel. And if you want more from your honeymoon than sun, sea and sand, the lush rainforests, plunging canyons, ancient ruins and snaking rivers of Peru could definitely be for you.

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Loving Lima

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Flying into the capital Lima direct from London, it’s worth stopping off for a day or two at the Miraflores Park Hotel to recover from the twelve-hour flight and chill out before the adventures ahead. The 11th floor spa is heavenly and the rooftop pool sensational, with panoramic views of the city and coast.

Aside from the beach culture (yes, you can sunbathe and surf here), Lima’’s all about food, in particular seafood, so book a table at romantic La Mar (Y&YW saw a proposal while dining here) and sample delicious national dish ceviche; raw fish, lemon juice, chilli and onions (it tastes better than it sounds!).

Take my breath away

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From Lima it’’s an inland journey to the world’’s deepest canyon, three hours from Arequipa. While Machu Picchu is on the radar of most Peru-based honeymooners, the amazing Colca Canyon isn’t. Not only is it deeper than the USA’’s Grand Canyon and heart-wrenchingly beautiful, it’’s also one of the best places on earth to catch a glimpse of the mighty Condor, the largest bird on the planet. Arrive at cliff-top spot Cruz del Condor at sunrise and snuggle together while you wait for the rare birds to swoop into view and circle just metres away. It’’s one of life’’s great sights that you’ll treasure forever.

The little house of love

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Settle yourselves in for a couple of days of luxe living at Las Casitas del Colca, a five-star, fairy-tale village getaway. Its winding hillside paths link 20 detached casitas (little houses) boasting cute chimneys, under floor heating, four-posters and their very own heated plunge pool, overlooking flower-filled meadows – –the perfect spot for some late night star gazing.

The vast Spa Samay is reached via a fragrant eucalyptus grove and past herb-filled greenhouses, whose plants are used in the signature treatments. There’’s also a cold pool to laze around or bravely take a dip in. The food here is rich and organic, with home-grown veg and local specialities on the menu, including alpaca. Don’’t miss out on the long list of activities, particularly horse riding and mountain bike riding.

On the trail of adventure

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A short flight from Arequipa lands you in Cusco, the ancient city of the Incas, which lies high in the Andes and is a wonderful place to spend time learning about this fascinating culture. Must-sees include the towering Cathedral of Santo Domingo built on the foundations of the Inca palace Viracocha in the main square and Saqsaywaman, a hillside fortress constructed of impossibly vast stones way before the invention of the wheel and stone cutting devices, which will leave you scratching your heads and asking “how did they do that?”.

Wonderful heights

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The place to stay while exploring Cusco is Hotel Monasterio, a hotel-come-museum, set in a former monastery built in 1592. It has retained loads of original features, like the cloisters and sweeping staircases while each of the 126 rooms are different –- book a junior suite if you want space as the standard rooms can be on the cosy side.

If you’’re feeling the effect of altitude (up to fifty% of guests do, as is lies 3000 metres above sea level!), ask for oxygen-enrichment, where oxygen is piped into your room until you acclimatise! Highlights of the hotel include dining on Peruvian cuisine in the vaulted Illariy Restaurant and sipping aperitifs -– Pisco sour is the national fave -– at sunset in the central courtyard overlooking a softly flowing fountain and 300-year-old cedar tree. If you want to experience the city’’s nightlife, head to Fallen Angel, an Alice in Wonderland-type experience, with fish tank tables, black rubber sofas and flying pigs on the ceiling.

Romance on the Orient-Express

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No trip to Peru would be complete without a trip to the famous Inca city. As you’re on honeymoon I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the four-day trek, instead opt for a trip aboard the Orient-Express Hiram-Bingham. Catch the train in Cusco then sit back and enjoy the three-hour journey and magnificent mountain views while sipping champagne and tucking into a delicious three-course meal.

Got my sights set on you

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Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Machu Picchu. You may have seen dozens of pictures but when you finally clap eyes on this ancient mountain-top-city, rediscovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911, you’’ll feel moved to tears. Explore the citadel, which dates back to around 1400 AD and houses ancient astronomical clocks and the temple of the sun, hand-in-hand before hiking up to the Sun Gate, high above the ruins. Looking down at the snaking Urubamba River and ring of mountain tops, you’ll feel on top of the world -– how better to end your trip of a lifetime?

Go there

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Cox & Kings (020 7873 5000, coxandkings.co.uk) offers tailor-made tours of Peru.

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An 11-night private itinerary (three nights at Las Casitas del Colca, in the Colca Canyon, two nights at the Miraflores Park Hotel in Lima, four nights at Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, a night at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, one night in Arequipa and a return journey on the Orient-Express Hiram-Bingham train) including return flights, most meals, transfers and all excursions. Call for tailor-made prices.