Peru

With colonial charm, ancient Inca history and llamas around every corner, Peru is a destination with a difference. Explore the Andes one day, then hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or dive into the Amazon the next. Peru has rewards to bestow on every type of traveller.

Peru Tours & Travel

Top holiday deals in Peru

Departing Days Price USD
21 Jun 2016 Inca Trail Express 7 $1309
16 Jun 2016 Sacred Land of the Incas 15 $2979
23 Jun 2016 Sacred Land of the Incas 15 $2979
9 Jun 2016 Sacred Land of the Incas 15 $2979
18 Jun 2016 Peru Encompassed 21 $3748

All our Peru trips

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Travel to Peru to discover the Inca, Peru's ancient civilisation. Trek or train to Machu Picchu, drive through the...
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Discover Peru's sacred land of the Incas. Visit Lima, the Amazon, Cuzco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, trek the Inca Trail and...
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Visit South America and travel to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Visit Quito, San Cristobal, Lima,...
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Encounter the highlights of Peru, witnessing Lima's attractions, flying over the Nazca Lines, taking a trip to Machu...
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Visit Peru on this Family Adventure, travelling through Lima, Cuzco and Aguas Calientes. Explore the Amazon Jungle...
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Travel to Peru and retrace the steps of the Inca, Peru's fascinating ancient civilisation. Follow Inca traditions...
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Travel from the heights of the Andes to the exotic Amazon rainforest on this best of Peru adventure tour. Trek the...
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Discover the lush beauty of the Amazon, the elegance of Buenos Aires and the awe-inspiring history of the Incas in...
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Journey through South America, from Lima to Buenos Aires, and explore stunning landscapes, buzzing cities and ancient...
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Travel from the city sights of Lima through to the vibrant beat of Rio via Machu Picchu, the Amazon Jungle, Buenos...
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Visit South America and travel to Peru. Visit Lima, Cuzco and Lake Titicaca, tour the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo...
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Prepare yourself for the ultimate South American adventure starting in Ecuador. From the dizzying heights of the...
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Journey through the Amazon Jungle in Peru and discover stunning wildlife and friendly locals. Cruise the Amazon River...
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Take the historic Inca Trail hike and be rewarded with spectacular vistas and incredible sights. From Cuzco, travel...
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Indulge in mouth-watering cuisine and witness stunning sights on Intrepid's Real Food Adventure - Peru. Explore Lima,...
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Discover Peru in depth on this adventure tour through Peru that ends in La Paz, Boliva. Trek the Inca Trail, marvel...
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Travel to South America and visit Peru on a family adventure through Lima, Ollantaytambo and Cuzco. Tour Peru and...
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Discover Incan heartlands on this Overland Bolivia and Peru tour. Travel from La Paz to Cuzco and take in Lake...
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Travel to Ecuador and the wildlife-rich shores of the Galapagos Islands. Then visit Peru and embark on an Inca Trail...
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Travel from La Paz to Lima and discover the vibrant heart of Inca culture. Trek an Inca trail and visit Colca Canyon,...
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Discover Peru's sacred land of the Incas. Visit Lima, the Amazon, Cuzco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, trek the Inca Trail and...
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Travel to Lima for a true Peruvian culinary experience. Visit a pisco bodega, take a cooking class and wander through...
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Visit South America and travel through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Follow the Inca trail and...
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Visit South America and travel through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Follow the Inca trail,...
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Travel from Lima to La Paz and fall in love with Incan South America. Complete the Inca Trail trek, visit Arequipa,...
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Travel from Puno to Lake Titicaca and take a boat ride on the world's highest navigable lake. Spend time with locals...
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Visit South America and travel through Peru. Tour Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes and Machu...
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Take a scenic Overland tour from Peru to Bolivia. Be wooed by the vibrant heart of Inca lands
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Fall in love with Peru on this adventure tour. Travel from Lima to Cuzco via the Ballestas Islands, Nazca Lines,...
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Go Overland from Lima to Rio with Intrepid Travel. Uncover hidden treasures from Peru to Brazil via Bolivia and...
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Visit South America and travel through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina from Lima to Buenos Aires. Follow the Inca Trail,...
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Visit South America and travel through Peru from Cuzco to Lima. Follow the Inca Trail, visit Machu Picchu, explore...
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Travel Overland from Lima, Peru, to Quito, Ecuador. Hit the beach in Punta Sal, get daring in Banos and go camping in...
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Discover Peru's landmark attractions - amble along the cobbled streets of Cuzco, visit Machu Picchu, cruise out on...
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Travel the length of the Americas from North through Central and to the very tip of the South. From Anchorage to...

Peru trip reviews

Our Peru trips score an average of 4.74 out of 5 based on 2736 reviews in the last year.

Inca Trail Express , May 2016

Liv Swenson

Inca Trail , May 2016

Liv Swenson

Video

Articles on Peru

Mothers of Intrepid: 3 amazing women you’ll meet on a homestay

Posted on Wed, 4 May 2016

Whether it’s a Mongolian Nana or a Peruvian Mama, homestay cooking, hospitality (and life wisdom) are simply the best.

Read more

What life’s really like on the Inca Trail: a traveller tells all

Posted on Mon, 2 May 2016

I had decided to tackle the Inca Trail during one of those life reassessments that every human experiences in their mid-30s.

Read more

What it’s like to do a homestay in the Peruvian Andes

Posted on Wed, 27 Apr 2016

Here we are in a house that now feels like a home, preparing dinner like a family...

Read more

10 global dishes that are definitely outside your comfort zone

Posted on Mon, 15 Feb 2016

Farewell, comfort zone. It was nice knowing you.

Read more

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Peru, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Peru you may find yourself staying in a:

About Peru

At a glance

Capital city: Lima (population 8.2 million)
Population: 29.9 million
Language: Spanish, Quechua
Currency: PEN
Time zone: (GMT-05:00) Bogota, Lima, Quito, Rio Branco
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin) Type C (European 2-pin)
Dialing code: +51

Best time to visit Peru

Peru is a fascinating country with four distinct geographical regions. Not many countries can offer beaches, mountains, rainforests and deserts on one visit. These distinct regions offer something for everyone - that's why most Intrepid tours operate all year round. June, July and August are considered the driest months in the highlands and Amazon basin and are optimal for hiking and river journeys. However, even during the rainy season in the Amazon, the rains only fall for a few hours at a time. In the Andes, the rainy season can sometimes just mean a bit of overcast weather. The advantage to travelling in these areas at this time is that many other travellers make the mistake of postponing their plans until the dry season, leaving you with more of Peru to yourself. The best time to visit the infamous Nazca Lines or the coastal areas is from December to April, although the other months of the year are perfectly good times to visit also. Remember that the Inca Trail is closed for cleaning during February, although there are other treks to Machu Picchu which are available at this time.

cuzco weather chart

Culture and customs

Young Peruvian boy dressed in full festival attire
Like many other South American nations, contemporary Peru is a rich mix of the modern and the ancient. The population is made up of Quechuans, Peruvians of Spanish descent and small groups of people from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean nations. With a long history of migration, many Peruvians may identify with several ethnic groups. While city dwellers tend to live modern lives, the Quechua communities of Peru have lived in the Andes for hundreds of years and live more of a traditional village-based lifestyle that revolves around markets and agriculture. While visiting Quechuan communities, travellers will be able to observe a markedly different way of life - with locals speaking a different language and wearing traditional clothing that isn't often seen in Peru's large cities. While the official religion is Christianity, some people still practice traditional rituals and customs alongside Christian beliefs. Indigenous celebrations and festivals offer fascinating insights into the ancient customs of Peru that have been carried into contemporary society from Inca times, with centuries-old food, clothing, song and dance playing an integral role in these celebrations.

Eating and drinking

Traveller basks in the glory of a traditional  Pisco sour

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Food in Peru tends to be hot and spicy, and while meat features quite heavily on the menu, vegetarian options aren't too hard to come by considering potatoes and avocados are in abundance.

Things to try in Peru

1. Papas Rellenas

This popular street food consists of baked potato stuffed with beef, onion and spices. The perfect budget backpacker snack.

2. Choclo con Queso

How can something as simple as corn on the cob with cheese be so tasty? This street food triumph is a winner - it's perfect for fussy eaters, vegetarians and the budget conscious.

3. Pisco Sour

The national drink of Peru gets whipped up with lime juice, egg white and sugar to create this well known cocktail. Try it in Pisco… actually why not try it all over Peru?

4. Mate de Coca

Rumoured to help with altitude sickness, this tea made from coca leaves is drunk by locals all over the Andes region and is hailed for its 'medicinal' properties.

Geography and environment

Variety of shades of Llama look around anxiously investigating
Sharing borders with Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, Peru also has a long stretch of coast along the Pacific Ocean. Home to a diverse range of landscapes, Peru can lay claim to parts of the Amazon Basin, Andean mountain range and Lake Titicaca as well as areas of tropical savanna, desert, cloud forest, mangroves and beaches. Peru's major cities are decidedly colonial, with historic buildings from the colonial era sitting alongside newer constructions. Out of the cities, rural life is largely agriculture-based, with locals working on potato, maize, coffee, rice and other farms.

History and government

Ancient Incas statue in Peru Landscape view of ancient ruins in Machu Picchu

Early History

Archaeological evidence indicates that early life in Peru started up to 11,000 years ago, with nomadic people living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Organised civilisations based on land cultivation appear to have been established some time around 6000 BC. Over the centuries, Peru has seen many different civilisations rise and fall, grow and decline and evidence of these ancient civilisations can be found all around the country today, with the Nazca Lines being one of the most enigmatic examples.

However, the Incas can lay claim to being one of the most famous and revered empires of all. Spanning from 1438 to 1532, the audacious Inca Empire was responsible for one of the world's most impressive archaeological ruins - Machu Picchu. While certainly a scene-stealer, there are also many other reminders of the Inca throughout Peru, with the ruins at Sacsayhuaman also holding much significance. The decline of the Incas began some time around 1532, with the arrival of Spanish colonisers, civil war and the devastating smallpox virus contributing to the instability of the once-great empire. The indigenous population was decimated by infectious diseases brought from Europe, for which they had no immunity.

By 1542, the Spanish Crown had created the Viceroyalty of Peru yet over the years various indigenous uprisings and rebellions indicated the level of dissatisfaction the original population felt at having their traditional way of life, identity and land interfered with by foreigners. These disputes finally led to the War of Independence, which lasted from 1810 to 1824, when Spanish troops were defeated in the Battle of Ayacucho. Peru's independence was finally officially recognised in 1879.

Recent History

Peru's more recent history has been dominated by military coups and regional disputes with the years between 1960 and 1990 being a time of political instability and economic difficulty. With world commodity prices levelling out, Peru's agriculture-based economy suffered, as did its population who were largely reliant on farming. New leadership in the 1990s and beyond has led to economic reforms and trade promotion, which has driven economic growth for the country. With a focus on mining, construction, tourism and private investment, Peru withstood the Global Economic Crisis of 2008 considerably well and managed to avoid the high inflation and economic uncertainty that plagued many other nations. Celebrating the centenary of the re-discovery of Machu Picchu in 2011, Peru continues to enjoy widespread international attention for its cultural and historical riches.

Top Picks

Young local Cuzco girl in traditional dress peru machu picchu view mountains village ancient

Top 10 Must-Visit Places of Peru

1. Machu Picchu

No matter how many photos you've seen, nothing can prepare you for the reality. Time slips away as you try to uncover the ruins' secrets and marvel at how such grandeur is possible in a place so remote.

2. Cuzco

History comes to life in Cuzco. You can't turn a corner without coming across another reminder of its Inca past. Ruins are everywhere, and even the elegant colonial buildings have been built upon old Inca temples, houses, and markets.

3. Sacred Valley

This fertile valley is packed with Inca sites including the massive fortress of Ollantaytambo. Be sure to come on market day when the laidback villages come to life. The cobbled streets fill with every colour, produce and animal imaginable.

4. Amazon Jungle

Spend mornings watching colourful macaws and monkeys, the afternoon learning about traditional plant usage or spotting crocs in oxbow lakes. Then, at night, get your torch ready to seek out some of the jungle's larger creatures.

5. Lima

Peru's capital is home to unexpected treasures. Dig beneath the city's surface to uncover pre-Columbian temples, a touch of colonial elegance and a huge dose of modern distractions; like the cafe-rich district of Miraflores.

6. Arequipa

The White City, as it's affectionately known, is spectacular. Surrounded by canyons, volcanoes and deserts, the location is perfect for exploring Peru's wild side. But the true beauty of the city is in its elegant buildings, built from white volcanic rock.

7. Colca Canyon

While the canyon is a dramatic sight (it's twice as deep as the Grand Canyon), it's a glimpse of the elusive Andean condor that will really get your heart racing. With a wing span of 3.2m this bird doesn't just glide, it soars.

8. Lake Titicaca

Big enough to house countless island communities, coca smugglers and the entirety of Bolivia's navy, Lake Titicaca is massive. Remnants of ancient cultures are everywhere and many communities live on reed islands as they have done for hundreds of years.

9. Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are one of the world's great mysteries. Shapes of spiders, monkeys and birds are drawn into the desert landscape over 500 sq km. The most amazing part? They are only visible from the air.

10. Aguas Calientes

Whether you've just trekked the Inca Trail or travelled by train through the Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes is the perfect place to stop, soak in a steaming thermal bath and reflect on the adventure so far.

Shopping

Handmade scarves and blankets laid out neatly in front of mountain landscape backdrop

With rich handicraft traditions on display in all the markets across the country, Peru is a great place to pick up handmade souvenirs at low prices.

It's also a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring some items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Peru

1. Alpaca Wool Clothing

As one of the largest alpaca wool producers in the world, travellers will be able to find alpaca wool clothing almost everywhere in Peru. Beautiful shawls, ponchos and jumpers are the perfect way to keep warm, as Peruvians have traditionally done for centuries.

2. Chullos

The classic hallmark of any backpacker who has travelled through South America - the chullo (knitted hat with ear flaps) might be a bit of a travel cliché but will be a well received as a gift back home.

3. Jewellery

Good quality gold and silver earrings, rings and bracelets are widely available throughout Peru, with classic Inca-style designs proving popular.

Festivals and Events in Peru

Inti Raymi

Hundreds of thousands of people gather at the ruins of Sacsayhuaman (just outside of Cusco) each year for this ancient celebration known as the 'Festival of the Sun'. Dating back to the Inca Empire, this ceremony once used to involve animal sacrifices (to appease the Sun God) but these days, historical re-enactments spare the animals.

El Senor de los Milagros

Even though this is one of the most important Catholic rituals in the world, you don't have to be a believer to be moved by the stirring sight of thousands of purple-clad people walking down the streets of Lima in honour of the Lord of Miracles.

La Diablada

Held on the shores of Lake Titicaca, this week-long festival commemorates the liberation of the city and pays respects to the gods of the lake. Expect to see locals dressed up in colourful devil-like costumes parading through the streets to the sounds of traditional music.

FAQs on Peru

PERU TOURIST VISA
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Not required
While tipping isn't mandatory in Peru, it's customary to add spare change or a small amount to restaurant bills. Although most restaurants and bars may already include a 10% service charge within the bill, feel free to add more if the service was good. Taxi drivers generally don't expect tips.
Internet cafes can be found in Peru's large cities and towns frequented by tourists. Internet availability is less widespread in rural and remote areas, so be prepared to disconnect for a while when traveling out of the city.
You should be able to use your mobile phone in Peru's cities, but prepare for less coverage in remote or mountainous areas. Ensure you have global roaming enabled before leaving your home country.
Peru has a mix of flushable toilets and squat toilets, so expect both. It's a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as these aren't always provided.
Short ride on a public city bus = 1 PEN
1 hour of internet use in a cyber café = 3 PEN
Bottle of beer = 4 PEN
Street cart snack/lunch = 6 PEN
Lunch in a café = 15 PEN
Dinner at a nice restaurant = 30 PEN
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Peru. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards can be used at most top-end hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist establishments. Expect to pay cash when dealing with smaller vendors, family-run restaurants and market stalls.
ATMs can be found in most of Peru's major cities and tourist areas. ATMs are far less common in rural areas and small villages so have enough cash to cover purchases when travelling away from the larger cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Mar 28 Maundy Thursday
Mar 29 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
Jun 29 St Peter's and St Paul's Day
Jul 28 Independence Day Celebrations
Aug 30 St Rosa of Lima Day
Oct 8 Angamos Battle
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Dec 8 Immaculate Conception
Dec 24 Christmas Eve
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/peru/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Peru Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Peru

1. Be considerate of Peru’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting communities, sacred sites and places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In Peru, the Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

Living Heart

This non-profit organisation helps the Andean women and children of the Sacred Valley area with education, conservation, nutrition and health programs.

Image supplied by Roxana Mori.

Escuela Winaypaq

This small school offers free primary education to local children in a remote area of the Sacred Valley. Apart from providing schooling, the school also aims to strengthen Andean culture by promoting traditional language and values.

Image supplied by Escuela Winaypaq.

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
The Last Days of the IncasKim MacQuarrie
The Conquest of the IncasJohn Hemming
Aunt Julia and the ScriptwriterMario Vargas Llosa
American ChicaMarie Arena
Touching the VoidJoe Simpson

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