There’s MUCH extra to Peru than Machu Picchu

Issues to do in Peru, apart from Machu Picchu

As one of the recognizable vacationer points of interest on the earth, the legendary Incan metropolis of Machu Picchu wants little introduction. Set excessive within the misty Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is Peru’s best treasure and it lives as much as each expectation. 

Our journey to Peru was centered across the Inca Path hike to Machu Picchu. The difficult 4-day trek continues to rank as one of the memorable journey experiences of our lives. We did the Inca Path hike with G Adventures and would extremely suggest them.

The second we crossed over the Solar Gate and witnessed Machu Picchu for the primary time will ceaselessly be etched in our minds. It’s a particular place. 

Though Machu Picchu will get a lot of the glory, and rightly so, there’s a lot extra to Peru. From the arid Pacific coast to the luxurious Amazon Rainforest, Peru is among the most numerous nations in world. 

On this publish, we share just a few of the different issues to do in Peru for first time guests. 

Word – this publish was initially printed in 2010 however was up to date in June 2021.

1. Hike the Colca Canyon

Even when climbing is just not your factor, witnessing the great thing about the Colca Canyon shouldn’t be missed. Together with its spectacular surroundings, Colca Canyon’s declare to fame is that it’s twice as deep because the Grand Canyon in america, although the canyon partitions aren’t as dramatic.

Colca Canyon is alleged to be one of many deepest canyons on the earth, so trekkers are suggested to take it gradual to keep away from altitude illness (the canyon depth is over 10,000 toes!).

There are a number of mountain villages within the Colca Valley, however the preferred is the city of Chivay, celebrated for its pure scorching springs. An added bonus is that the drive to Colca Canyon passes an unimaginable terraced valley (see picture under).

The bus stopped at this viewpoint so we may {photograph} these lovely terraces within the Colca Valley. 

Arequipa to Colca Canyon

It’s simple to guide Colca Canyon excursions that depart from Arequipa, Peru’s second largest metropolis. The journey passes via exceptional volcano nation (see above picture – can you see the wild alpaca?), at heights over 4,900 meters, earlier than descending into the Colca Valley. 

Technically, you can do a full day journey to Colca Canyon from Arequipa, however it will be a really lengthy day (15 hours). We suggest you keep in a single day in Chivay. Right here are some things to do in Chivay and locations to remain in Chivay.

Colca Canyon climate could be unpredictable, given the area’s numerous landscapes. Convey heat clothes and layers, even for those who don’t plan to go climbing the Colca Canyon.

The Colca Valley is Peru’s third most-visited vacationer vacation spot with 120,000+ guests yearly.

Andean Condor within the Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon area can also be well-known for being dwelling to the uncommon Andean Condor, an infinite chicken with the most important wing span of any land chicken (3.2 meters).

2. The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca

Other than having the title as being the very best navigable lake on the earth, Lake Titicaca is legendary for its floating reed islands. The islands are dwelling to the Uros, an indigenous those that pre-dates Incan civilization.

Touring these man-made floating islands provides an attention-grabbing perspective into the lives of the Uros individuals. It’s an odd feeling the primary time you step on an island made completely of reeds. You’ll be able to’t assist however assume that at any second the reeds may give manner and also you’ll slip into the frigid lake. 

There are over 100 floating islands on Lake Titicaca. Most are situated 5 km from the shores of Puno. The bigger islands home about ten households, whereas smaller ones home two or three households.

Learn how to get to Lake Titicaca 

One of the best ways to get to Lake Titicaca is to take the bus from Cusco to Puno (assuming you go to the floating islands after Machu Picchu). The bus from Cusco to Puno takes about 8 hours. It’s also possible to take the bus from Arequipa to Puno, which takes about 5 hours. Peru bus passes could be bought at Peru Hop.

We visited Lake Titicaca and the floating islands as a part of an organized tour with G Adventures. You could find present promotions and journey offers right here.

In the event you’re backpacking in Peru, you’ll be able to simply guide day journeys to the floating islands from the town of Puno. Lodges in Puno are comparatively cheap. We stayed at this Puno resort and it was good worth. It’s situated close to the Puno Cathedral and Puno Plaza de Armas.

To succeed in the floating islands from Puno, you’ll board a lined motor boat (just like one within the distance within the above picture). Company can tour the floating islands on this canoe-style boat, additionally fabricated from reeds. 

View of the properties on the floating island. Tourism is necessary for the Uros peoples’ financial system.

Get Final Minute pricing and journey offers right here.

3. Discover the Amazon Rainforest

Do you know that Peru has the second largest portion of the Amazon Rainforest after Brazil? The Peruvian Amazonia covers 60% of the nation, creating a singular and numerous ecosystem.  

The primary Peru entry factors to the Amazon Basin are from Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado. It’s really useful to fly to each areas as a result of the highway infrastructure is sort of poor.

We took a flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, referred to as a gateway to the southern Amazon jungle. From the airport, we transferred to a lined river boat and traveled 3 hours up the Tambopata River.

We spent two nights in an remoted and distant jungle lodge. There’s something eerie, but peaceable, about sleeping in an open cabin in the midst of the Amazon Jungle. Rain drops dance on the thatched roof whereas howler monkeys hoot within the distance.

We visited the Peruvian Amazon on a tour with G Adventures.

The runway on the Padre Aldamiz Worldwide Airport in Puerto Maldonado.

Aboard the river boat on the Tambopata River within the Peru Amazon Rainforest.

We noticed this curious, but frightened, sloth on an evening stroll. He was not completely happy to see us.

Evening boat tour in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest

We went on an evening boat tour whereas within the Amazon Rainforest. We captured this little caiman hiding within the jungle mangroves on the river’s edge.

I’ll admit, the evening boat tour was freaky. It’s so quiet in the midst of the jungle. The lodge was miles away from civilization. The one mild was from the glow of the moon and our captain’s flash mild. 

All smiles after a morning stroll within the rainforest. That is the unique G Lodge Amazon resort.

Photograph credit score

4. Fly over the mysterious Nazca Strains

Positioned within the Nazca Desert plains, the mysterious Nazca Strains are a sequence of historic geoglyphs that vary from wildlife to geometric designs.  There are a number of theories about how and why the geoglyphs had been created, but it surely appears nothing is conclusive.

Regardless, the Nazca Strains are considered one of Peru’s most attention-grabbing and peculiar points of interest. One of the best ways to view these World Heritage-listed geoglyphs is by airplane. 

Nazca Strains Air excursions depart from Lima. In the event you plan to return to Lima, this can be a full day tour (about 11-12 hours). An expensive van will choose you up at your Lima resort and drive 4 hours to Paracas. That is the place you’ll board your Nazca Strains air tour. Flight time is usually 1.5 hours. After the flight, you spend a while in Paracas earlier than returning to Lima. 

In the event you don’t wish to return to Lima, we suggest you spend just a few days in Paracas and discover close by Paracas Nationwide Reserve and Ballestas Islands Nationwide Reserve.

5. Sand boarding and Dune Buggy in Huacachina

Large sand dunes in Peru? Yup, Peru actually does have a little bit little bit of the whole lot.

Huacachina is a singular desert oasis situated simply exterior the town of Ica. The huge sand dunes that encompass the small desert village are a playground for adrenaline searching for vacationers.

The preferred issues to do in Huacachina is sand boarding and excessive pace dune buggy rides (we extremely suggest each). Most dune buggy excursions will embody sand boarding and sand snowboarding. You’ll be able to lease sand boarding tools from most hostels and lodges.

Dune buggy excursions are sometimes 2 hours. Departure occasions are later within the afternoon (round 4:00 PM) as a result of the sand is simply too scorching in the course of the center of the day. It additionally strains up properly with sundown. Witnessing the sundown from the height of an enormous sand dune is a bucketlist expertise you’ll always remember. 

Huacachina is situated 4 hours south of Lima and 11 hours from Arequipa. We took the in a single day bus from Arequipa to Ica (get the vacationer class, it’s just like first-class seats on an airplane – very comfy).

Though it’s good to sleep for a lot of the bus journey, the draw back is that we arrived in Ica at 6:00 AM when nothing is open. We took a taxi from the Ica bus station to Huacachina and sat at a restaurant for just a few hours till our resort room was obtainable.

You’ll be able to paddle boat on the lake at Huacachina. It’s also possible to swim within the lake, however most hostels and lodges in Huacachina have swimming swimming pools. 

Dune buggy excursions in Huacachina

The excessive pace dune buggy excursions are superior. Our driver loved slamming on the fuel and leaping down the perimeters of the sand dunes. There have been just a few intense moments the place I believed he was going to roll the buggy, however he didn’t.

It was fairly the journey. We extremely suggest you give it a shot.

For a unique perspective, lie in your abdomen and journey down the dunes face first. However ensure you take a deep breathe and shut your mouth. Sand doesn’t style excellent. 

Above and under – Cameron sand boarding down the enormous sand dunes in Huacachina.

Sandboarding Suggestions

Use an outdated snowboard with correct bindings and boots, if obtainable. You could find outdated snowboards and skis at hostels and lodges in Huacachina. In any other case, you’re prone to be strapped to a heavy wood plank with poor management.

Watch your pace on the sand boards. Though it feels just like snowboarding, it’s not. Sand is sticky, so it takes a little bit longer to get going and the boards act otherwise on sand.

In the event you go too quick and also you fall, you’ll eat plenty of sand. Not enjoyable. Additionally, you will be sweaty (you’re within the desert) so the sand will keep on with your physique. Additionally not enjoyable.

The place to remain in Huacachina?

There a loads of lodging in Huacachina. The village is mainly constructed for tourism, so you’ve got a variety of choices to select from.

Remember, Huacachina is a well-liked cease on the backpacker path, so a lot of the hostels have a loud occasion vibe. In the event you’re searching for quiet, think about staying at a resort in Ica, just like the 

We spent a complete of 4 nights in Huacachina. The primary evening was at La Casa de Bamboo Hostel. It’s low cost however doesn’t have a pool. It was the one choice that was obtainable on the time of our early arrival.

We determined to spend a little bit more cash and relocate to the Carola Lodge. We might suggest this resort. It has a giant pool and a enjoyable occasion vibe. However be forewarned, it may get loud on a Friday evening.

Different good funds choices are the Lodge El Huacachinero and Hostel Sand and Lake.

Seek for extra Huacachina lodges right here.

Watching the sundown from the height of an enormous sand dune is an epic expertise.

6. Browsing in Mancora

The place is the most effective place to surf in Peru? Properly, that will depend on who you ask!

Positioned on the Pacific coast in Northern Peru, the seashore city of Mancora is famed for its pristine seashores, nice surf and chilled out ambiance. It’s dwelling to Peru’s finest stretch of sandy seashore and it’s recognized for serving up the nation’s finest ceviche.

If seashore lounging and catching waves are your factor, Mancora is asking.

Mancora is a well-liked cease on the South America backpacking path. In the event you’re touring north to south, the bus from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Mancora takes about 7 hours. Alternatively, the bus from Lima to Mancora takes 18 hours, so ensure you carry a cushty pillow!

Keep at La Casa de Sebas for a laid again vibe. It’s situated 2 minutes from the seashore. 

7. Uncover the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Although Machu Picchu is the clear winner with regards to Incan archaeology, the Sacred Valley is a should for historical past buffs and cultural connoisseurs. 

Geographically, the Sacred Valley of the Incas stretches alongside the Urubamba River from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, which is the start line for the Inca Path to Machu Picchu. Other than the various ruins and archaeological websites, the area is well-known for its exceptional landscapes and plush agriculture.

Guided excursions of the Sacred Valley could be organized from Cusco, the traditional capital of the Incan Empire, and might embody river rafting, horseback driving, mountain biking and climbing.

Get your $45 credit score for AirBnB lodging right here.

8. Sightseeing in Cusco, the Imperial metropolis of the Incas

There are a number of historic Incan websites and points of interest throughout the metropolis of Cusco. So many, in reality, the town itself has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Web site.

Earlier than you set off to hike the Inca Path or go to Machu Picchu, spend a few days exploring Cusco whilst you acclimatize to the excessive altitude of the area (Cusco is situated 3,400 meters above sea degree). Cusco is a really walkable metropolis and most points of interest are 15-20 minutes stroll from anyplace within the metropolis centre (close to the Plaza de Armas).

Widespread points of interest in Cusco are:

  • Sacsayhuamán citadel and fortified complicated 
  • Plaza de Armas 
  • Templo de la Sagrada Familia
  • Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, often known as Cusco Cathedral
  • The Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus 
  • Koricancha Temple
  • Mirador de Plaza Sán Cristobal (the place the above picture was captured)

You’ll be able to guide day journeys to Machu Picchu from Cusco. We hiked the well-known Inca Path to Machu Picchu with G Adventures. The tour included 2 nights in Cusco plus sightseeing within the Sacred Valley. 

The place to remain in Cusco’s Historic Centre:

Funds lodges in Cusco: Inca Wasi Plaza, Hostal El Triunfo or Lodge Villa Mayor

Mid-range lodges in Cusco: Casa Andina Commonplace Cusco, Lodge Cusco Plaza de Armas or El Virrey Boutique Hostal

Luxurious lodges in Cusco: Palacio del Inka or Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

Associated: Climbing the Inca Path to Machu Picchu

Photograph credit score Chimu Adventures

9. See penguins and wildlife at Ballestas Islands

The Islas Ballestas are a small cluster of islands off the southern coast of Peru. Positioned a brief 24 km from the seashore city of Paracas (close to Pisco), these islands are solely accessible by tour boat, sometimes lasting 2 hours.

Typically described because the Galapagos Islands of Peru, the Ballestas Islands are dwelling to many uncommon birds, together with pelicans, penguins, cormorants, Peruvian boobies, and Inca terns. It’s additionally frequent to identify sea lions, turtles, dolphins, and whales contained in the marine park.

Other than the Peruvian Amazon, the Ballestas Islands and Paracas Nationwide Reservation supply the most effective wildlife expertise in Peru.

Word – it’s not attainable to go to the Ballestas Islands with no tour. 

In the event you keep in Paracas, and also you’re searching for some luxurious, we suggest the Hilton Lodge Paracas. It’s situated inside strolling distance to Pracas Nationwide Reserve and El Chaco Seashore. One other good choice is the Paracas Lodge Emancipador.

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10. Marvel on the Rainbow Mountains

The Rainbow Mountains, formally referred to as Vinicunca, have shortly turn into a prime vacationer attraction in Peru, thanks largely to its web fame on Instagram. 

These mountains are mentioned to have solely been found just a few years in the past. The primary guided excursions started in early 2016, so its fame is brief lived. There’s, nonetheless, concern that this fragile atmosphere can’t deal with the current waive of mass tourism (learn extra right here).

The mountain sits at an elevation of 6,384 meters and is situated roughly 100 km southeast of Cusco. Most individuals will go to the Rainbow Mountains on a day journey from Cusco. It’s a couple of 2 hour drive from Cusco to the park entrance, plus a 2 hour hike from the automobile park to the point of view. 

Nonetheless, in case you have some further time, a multi-day trekking expertise that hyperlinks to the Ausangate circuit trek will certainly be a spotlight out of your time in these wonderful mountains.

FlashpackerConnect is a tour operator that gives each day treks and multi-day tenting experiences. 

Here’s a properly written evaluation about visiting Rainbow Mountains. This publish does a superb job explaining how the mountains get their vibrant strips.

11. Sightseeing in Lima

Typically used because the layover en path to Cusco, Peru’s largest metropolitan metropolis typically will get missed. Although it does have a foul popularity for security, Lima is extraordinarily wealthy in historical past and tradition. 

Lima has an attention-grabbing mixture of museums, lovely cathedrals, eerie catacombs, electrical nightlife, infinite buying and engaging conventional Peruvian delicacies (you will need to attempt contemporary ceviche in Lima).

The Plaza Mayor, or Plaza de Armas, tops the listing of should see points of interest in Lima. Positioned within the Historic Centre of Lima, the plaza is surrounded by the Authorities Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima and the Palace of the Union. Collectively, the Historic Centre of Lima is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Web site.

When you’re within the space, one other worthwhile Lima vacationer attraction is San Francisco Church. Constructed within the baroque-style of the late 1600s, San Francisco Church is legendary for its catacombs which are mentioned to comprise the bones of over 25,000 our bodies.

Don’t miss the bluffs at Miraflores (see above picture) and its spectacular Pacific ocean views. When you’re there, take a look at Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Columbian adobe-and-clay pyramid.

The place to remain in Lima Peru:

Funds lodges in Lima – Aside Lodge El Doral or Lima Backpackers

Mid-range lodges in Lima – ibis Larco Miraflores, BW City Larco Lodge or Dazzler Lima Miraflores

Luxurious lodges in Lima – The Westin Lima Lodge or Belmond Miraflores Park

BONUS – Trekking the Cordillera Blanca in Huaraz

This selection is for the intense trekker and journey seekers. Huaraz is situated in north-central Peru, about 420 km north of Lima. It’s the gateway to the Cordillera Blanca, the very best vary of the Peruvian Andes and well-known for its magnificent snowcapped peaks and glaciers.

The Cordillera Blanca contains Huascarán, the very best mountain in Peru at 6,768 meters (22,205 ft) and the third highest within the Western Hemisphere.

It’s arguably the most effective place in South America for trekking and mountaineering expeditions.

What’s the lesson realized?

There’s way more to Peru than Machu Picchu! However ensure you go to Machu Picchu, too! It’s one of many few world points of interest that really exceeds its overwhelming expectations.

And, for those who’re the adventurous sort, we suggest you hike the notorious Inca Path to Machu Picchu. To this present day, it’s considered one of our most memorable journey experiences.

For organized excursions, take a look at G Adventures and Intrepid Journey. Each have nice reputations. Right here’s a hyperlink to seek out nice offers on South America excursions with G Adventures.

Do you’ve got suggestions for issues to do in Peru?

Share your suggestions and proposals within the feedback under. Our readers thanks!

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