Rough road to these ruins

1. Peru

In the Andean cloud forest, the myth-shrouded Chachapoya civilization offer some of Peru's most evocative historic sites. And few tourists.

The Chachapoya, traders, artisans and warriors, thrived in northeastern Peru from about 800 to 1540. They left behind majestic ruins, haunting funeral sites and unanswered questions.

Relatively few people have heard of the Chachapoya or visited their domain, which rivals in grandeur Machu Picchu, the Incas' ancient city that is a major tourist attraction for Peru.

Getting here is the problem. A visit requires a lot of ground travel and an adventurous spirit. Once there, it's best to stay four to five days in the zone.

Area travel agencies such as Turismo Explorer, www.turismoexplorer, and Vilaya Tours,, can arrange vehicle rentals and guides and provide crucial information on weather, road closures and more.

From the capital, Lima, travelers typically first fly to one of three cities: Cajamarca, in the Andes; Chiclayo, on the northern coast; or Tarapoto, in the Amazonas lowlands.

They then head to the colonial town of Chachapoyas, a daylong road trip. It's a logical base for exploring the towering citadel of Kuelap, cliff-side sarcophagi of Carajia and other sites.

Don't miss the extraordinary museum in Leymebamba, a two-hour drive south of Chachapoyas. Mummies are displayed plus fabrics, ceramics and artifacts from the Laguna of the Condors cliff tombs.

Of the three overland alternatives, the Cajamarca-Chachapoyas land route is the most rugged and visually stunning. Its vertiginous drops and steep climbs are not for everyone.

A visit to Chachapoya isn't cozy. There's no luxury train or five-star hotel. But it's worth the effort.

-- Patrick McDonnell

2. Britain

British Airways said Feb. 1 that it would launch twice-daily, business-class flights between London and New York next year. It's part of an expansion for the airline, which will add service between mainland Europe and New York in June.

From Reuters

3. Germany

Nudists will be able to start their holiday early by stripping off their clothes on a plane being chartered by a German travel agency for a summer trip to the Baltic Sea resort of Usedom. Passengers will have to remain clothed until they board and then get dressed again before disembarking, the agency said.

From Reuters

4. Kenya

Tourists were shunning this African nation at the peak of its safari season after ethnic violence, prompted by disputed elections, killed hundreds of residents and displaced thousands. The U.S. advised citizens to "strongly consider the risks of travel to Kenya."

5. China

The worst winter weather in more than 50 years snarled rail, road and air traffic in central and eastern China, stranding millions.

Caution spots

The State Department recently issued warnings or alerts for thes areas:

Colombia, because of ongoing violence by narco-terrorist groups and other criminals.

Iran, because of possible harassment or arrest of Americans.

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