The mere mention of Peru conjures up images of ancient lost worlds, incredible ruins set atop vertiginous mountains, colourful braided folks, sunburnt faces and curious looking camelids. Llamas, the Incas, pan flutes and remote lands…Peru is all these things, no doubt, but is also so much more. Peru is amazing gastronomic discoveries, adrenalin-pumping activities, breath-taking nature and mind-boggling mysteries. The country boasting the fastest-growing tourism industry in all of South America is an absolute kaleidoscope of fascinating, unduplicated wonders.
Think Machu Picchu is all there is to Peru? Think again…
Here are 7 of the most magical Peruvian experiences you could have on your next South America adventure trip. So pack your bags, double up on the woolly socks and get ready to have them blown right off!
Visit Machu Picchu
Yes, there’s a hell of a lot more to Peru than Machu Picchu, yet that still doesn’t mean you won’t find this incredible man-made wonder on the top of every ‘Best of Peru’ list. Whether you choose to reach Sun Gate by taking on a challenging 6-day Classic Inca Trail, splurging on a bit of extra comforts on a Superior Inca trail adventure, or skipping the hard yakka altogether and reaching the ancient Inca site via a cushy train ride, see it you must. Declared one of the Seven New Wonders of the World by UNESCO, Machu Picchu is a bucket-list attraction bar none. The fact that reaching it is hard work, in one way or another, simply adds to the appeal. Explore and unveil the secrets of the Incas on a specialised week-long tour of spellbinding Sacred Valley, the lesser-visited sites of Maras and Moray and, of course, a scenic ride to Machu Picchu, for a history-brimming adventure you’ll never forget.
Condor Spotting at Colca Canyon
Depending on which source you quote, Peru’s Colca Canyon is either the deepest or second deepest canyon in the world. Either way, suffice it to say it’s a long way down. Twice the way down as at the Grand Canyon, in fact! Home of the elusive Peruvian Condor (the bird with the largest wingspan in the world), Colca Canyon gives Machu Picchu a run for its llamas on awe-inspiring scenery. Standing atop the rim at sunrise, admiring soaring condors above lofty Andean peaks, is one of the most magical experiences you could ever dream of having. For an unforgettable adventure, let us guide you on a 4-day Colca Canyon Tour from Arequipa to Puno, as we cross dramatic landscapes and hike past some of Peru’s most beautiful traditional mountain villages.
Sail on Lake Titicaca
To Peruvians, the world’s highest navigable lake is arguably the most revered place on earth. Legend has it that it was from its deep blue waters that the first Inca Emperor arose, and the mystical birthplace of their ancestors holds a very special place in their hearts. To first-time visitors, the appeal of Lake Titicaca is an incredible surprise. Discovering such a stunning lake at an altitude of more than 3,800m is wonderful enough, yet exploring inhabited reed islands and ancient pre-Inca ruins, as well as authentic lakeside villages seemingly forgotten by time, is utterly hypnotic. Join a 4-day Lake Titicaca Dreaming Tour and you’ll have the best of this splendid place right at your feet.
Food Binge in Lima…and everywhere else!
Speaking of food! Peru boasts some of South America’s most delectable epicurean highlights, with drool-worthy specialities like ceviche, rocoto relleno, cuy, dulce de leche and empanadas found in every corner of the country. If that’s not enough, Lima is home to no less than three of the Top 10 Restaurants in South America and an indecent amount of seriously wicked Chinese eateries. Along with a healthy dose of Western delights in popular hubs like Cusco, Puno and Arequipa, one could seriously plan an entire visit around food bingeing alone.
And who would dare complain about that?
Soar Above the Nazca Lines
As mysterious as the Egyptian Pyramids – and equally mesmerising – the UNESCO heritage-listed Nazca Lines of Peru have been captivating the world for decades, ever since local archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe took a stroll hillside near Nasca in 1927, spotted some exceptionally precise lines drawn on the desert ground and thought ‘What the….’
Believed to date from between 500BC to 500AD, the Nazca Lines are a collection of geoglyphs found in the heart of Peru’s Nazca Desert. The Nazca people were primarily renowned for their ahead-of-their-time techniques of drawing water from the ground and many archaeologists believe the drawing of these amazing lines is somehow connected to that. Whatever the reason for their creation may have been, fact remains that these lines were a superb accomplishment, are still a head-scratching mystery, have survived millennia, and are simply spellbinding to admire. Got some spare time in Lima? Take a quick trip to see the world famous Nazca Lines plus the Ballestas Islands!
Get Lost in the Amazon
Few places in the world are as evocative as the Amazon and in Peru you have the enviable chance of exploring the second largest section of the world’s principal and most biodiverse rainforest. Although Peru is mostly known as a mountainous country, few visitors realise that 60% of the country is actually Amazonian jungle – yet only 5% of the population lives here. For immense startling beauty, and biodiversity in both flora and fauna (Peru boasts the highest number of birds and third-highest number of mammals in the world), a visit to the Peruvian Amazon is an absolute must for anyone heading to South America. There’s a myriad of incredible ways you can explore this region: on a 5-day cruise aboard a luxury riverboat, or by basing yourself in one of the luxurious jungle lodges, from where you can take daily boat trips and hiking expeditions. Whichever way you choose to experience the Amazon, rest assured that it’ll be one of the most extraordinary experiences you’ll ever have.
Sand boarding in Huacachina
Just a few hours out of Lima, in the heart of the stupendous Peruvian desert, is where you’ll find Huacachina, a stunning desert oasis that’s framed by some of the most impressively high sand dunes in the world. Just say the word and we can take you there, strap on some waxed sand boards to your feet and hurl you down some vertiginous sand dune at breakneck speed. Because that’s just the kind of enthusiastic travel operator we are! And don’t worry, we’ll have a cold glass of pisco sour waiting for you just as soon as you manage to remove all those fine sandy grains out of all bodily orifices you never even knew you had. Want to include an adrenalin-pumping afternoon in Huacachina on your bespoke Peru tour? Oh yes….we can do that too!
In Peru, your trip can be as adventurous or as filled with comfort as you wish, this being one of its foremost attractions for young and old alike, solo travellers and those travelling with curious kids in tow. If you have more time up your sleeve then you also have the option of a 10-day tailor-made tour which offers the best highlights of the Andes and the Amazon.
At Chimu Adventures, we offer a wide range of tailor-made travel options to Peru. Come face to face with some of the most awe-inspiring remnants of the ancient Inca Empire. Tackle a heart-pumping hike along the ancient Inca trail to Machu Picchu, or take a comfortable and just as mesmerizing train ride instead. Visit world-class museums and priceless temples, explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and come discover one of the most impressive ancient civilizations the world has ever known.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”