Located high in the mountains of the Southern Sierra regions, Ayacucho has been closed off to the rest of the world for the last two decades. In the 1980s, an extremist group known as Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path) took over the town as their base and held power for more than two decades. Only recently liberated, Ayaucho is an unknown gem in Peruvian tourism. A quaint colonial town with a number of pretty churches, Ayachuco is a great shopping destination, as many Peruvian souvenirs are made here. The best time to visit Ayacucho is around Easter, when the city's carnival celebrations are in full swing.