Willkawaman Cathedral, Ayacucho ©
Located in Peru's central highlands and crossed by two mountain ranges, Ayacucho has much to delight history lovers. Indeed, the region is home to some of the country's most significant archaeological attractions, as well as gorgeous, pastel-coloured colonial buildings. An ancient capital city, some of the oldest pre-historic remains found in America, and richly decorated churches are all part of the destination's inheritance. Ayacucho is a relatively unknown tourism gem, though, due largely to political unrest. That is, as the capital of an isolated and traditionally poor department, it allowed Professor Abimael Guzman to foster the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) Maoist Revolutionary movement, causing thousands of deaths in the region during the 1980s and 1990s. Fortunately, travellers are rediscovering Ayacucho. The best time to visit is around Easter, when the city's carnival celebrations are in full swing.