There are so many incredible things to do in Peru. From hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, exploring one of the world’s deepest canyons ‘Colca Canyon’ to chillin’ in chocolate shops and cool cafes in Cusco, Peru truly has something for every adventurous traveler. Not to mention the bustling metropolis and capital city, Lima, home to the Museo Larco collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación. So here is what we consider to be the top things to do in Peru, certainly worthy of a place on your South America Bucket List that’s for sure.
Here’s our pick of the top things to do in Peru
The largest metropolitan city in Peru, Lima lies en route to Cusco and has a rich history and culture that should be explored. The Plaza de Armas and the 16th-century cathedral are the heart of old Lima Centro. It’s also home to the Museo Larco collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations.
Hike the Inca Trail over high passes with unforgettable views, through cloud forests, and into subtropical vegetation before arriving at Machu Picchu, possibly the most famous tourist destination in South America and certainly in Peru.
Volcanoes, waterfalls, and hot springs make the Colca Canyon a top outdoor adventure destination in southern Peru. Within a bus ride of Machu Picchu this fissure is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and one of the world’s deepest. It’s a well-known trekking destination and home to soaring condors and remote traditional villages with terraced agriculture that predates the Incas.
The Ballestas Islands are a group of rocky islands located off the Pacific coast of Peru near the town of Paracas, 3 hours south of Lima. These islands are known for their many caves and arches that serve as shelter to more than 1500 species of marine birds and a large number of sea lions. Discover ‘The Mini-Galápagos of Peru’ when you visit the Ballestas Islands by taking a luxury tour boat and observing the aquatic life up close.
The Ausangate Trek
This mountain range has several peaks over 6,000 m, including the sacred Ausangate which is the highest mountain in the Cusco region. No permit is needed for the Ausangate trek which is one of the few treks in Peru that you can do on horseback.
Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
At 12,500 feet above sea level, Lake Titicaca is one of the highest commercially navigable lakes in the world. It’s also the largest lake in South America by volume of water. On Lake Titicaca, the Uros people live on islands made of living reeds that float around the lake. The Uros tribe have been living on the lake for hundreds of years, they are a pre-date Incan civilization and continue to hunt and fish on these waters. This best way to access the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca is by taking a bus from Cusco to Arequipa or Puno.
Macaw Research Expedition
The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project on the ecology and conservation of macaws and parrots in south-east Peru.
Peru’s Nazca Lines
A shocking feat of ancient artwork and an unsolved mystery that has fed conspiracy theories since their discovery in 1926. Peru’s Nazca lines are a group of pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched into desert sands covering an area of nearly 1,000 sq. kilometers and there are about 300 different figures, including animals and plants. The best way to see the Nazca Lines is from the air and there are multiple daily flights, lasting about 75 minutes each, that depart from Pisco Airport.
Surfing in Mancora
Máncora is a resort town in the Piura Region, on Peru’s northwest coast, 600 miles north of Lima. It’s famous for its beautiful beaches and big waves meaning this formerly quiet town has become a surfer’s paradise. Surfing in Mancora is almost a religion: from small local children to seniors from Lima, living here in front of the warm beaches of northern Peru.
Sandboarding in Huacachina
If you are looking to indulge in some sand-swallowing Peru adventure travel, then sandboarding could well be the thing for you. A small village in south-western Peru, Huacachina is home to the only natural desert oasis in all of South America. For the past 12 years, the desert oasis of Huacachina has served as the site of one of the most popular adventure tours in South America: the dune buggy and sandboarding tour.
More cool things to do in Peru
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There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to do in Peru.
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