Magnificent Peru hides innumerable treasures in plain sight. Machu Picchu might dazzle a million pilgrims year after year, but look around and you’ll find there’s a wealth of experiences to discover.
Active adventurers, culture explorers, shutterbugs, and surf dudes alike have countless reasons to hop on the next flight to Peru. Get a taste of the richness that a second look will uncover.
1. Hike to Incan Ruins at Choquequirao, Andes
How to Get Here: Choquequirao Archaeological Park is a 4-hour drive from Cusco.
Make room in your suitcase for a good pair of hiking boots! Hidden away in the clouds above Apurimac River is a once-forgotten Incan complex, hovering 3,000 metres above sea level.
Choquequirao, much like its sister Machu Picchu, houses well-preserved pieces of an ancient city. Temples, huacas, plazas, houses, and aqueducts have stood the test of time on an impressive scale.
Get the full Choquequirao experience by starting your mountain trek on foot from the town of Cachora. You’ll follow your guide two days into the skies, treated to majestic views of mountains and valleys by day, and phenomenal views of the Milky Way by night.
Expert Traveller Tip: Make sure you’ve acclimatized to the region’s high altitudes before making the climb – even the fittest travellers can get winded if they try the hike too soon after arriving.
2. Spend a Day at Lake Titicaca, Puno
How to Get Here: Lake Titicaca, via Puno, is a 45-minute drive from Inca Manco Capac International Airport.
According to Incan lore, Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun, earning it the nickname “the cradle of the world”. But long before the Incas inhabited the area, the Uros people have called it home.
Today, you can make your way to Lake Titicaca and visit the famous floating Uros villages. The families living here combine ancient traditions with contemporary life. Solar panels power well-maintained reed houses. Collaboration with tour providers helps to power their textile and tourism small businesses.
While you’re experiencing the living cultures here, take the time to make some new friends, learn about Uros history, culture, and language – and bring some cash so you can leave with one of the vibrant textiles, made with care.
Along the shoreline, join clusters of birdwatchers who have flocked here from all over the world to spot the winged treasures of South America.
3. Go on a Photo Safari through Historic Arequipa
How to Get Here: Arequipa is a 30-minute drive from Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon International Airport, then enjoy a short walk into the car-free city centre.
You’re going to need a backup memory card. Guarded by three skyscraping volcanoes, the historic city centre of Arequipa is a delight for the eyes. Condors soar above ghostly white baroque buildings, made of pale volcanic stone.
By all means, explore the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plaza de Armas, with your camera. But then keep moving to the coral and indigo walls of the Santa Catalina Monastery or the gorgeous landscape that is Colca Canyon.
In town, you’ll also find a thriving economy of trendy craft industries, from textiles to artisanal restaurants and craft breweries.
4. Explore Chan Chan Mud City, La Libertad
How to Get Here: The Chan Chan ruins are only a 15-minute drive outside the colonial city of Trujillo.
It’s hard to imagine what a 20-square kilometre adobe city really looks like until you’ve been there in person. Chan Chan was once a capital Chimú city, home to royal family after royal family between 850 and 1470. Its mud-brick ruins are awe-striking, and a guided tour complete with vivid stories and chilling history is a must.
Take your time to explore every detail, from the wall motifs of fish and seabirds to palaces, homes, and ancient irrigation systems.
As you might expect of a city made of mud, Chan Chan’s permanence is a challenge. Archaeological experts work tirelessly to maintain the historic site and make restorative repairs after rainfall. Their conservation work is an ongoing tribute to Chimú history, and one that makes your visit to this otherworldly site all the more special.
5. Ride the Dunes at Huacachina, Ica
How to Get Here: The drive to Huacachina is about 4 hours from Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima.
South America’s only natural desert oasis has become a hotspot among backpackers and adrenaline junkies. You can ride the dunes all day long with the other sandboarders or just relax in town.
Huacachina’s lagoon is thought to have therapeutic properties, but instead of taking a dip, we recommend renting a boat and trying to spot the mermaid of lore. Or, grab a cocktail and take it easy poolside.
If you’re craving a little something more, hop over to one of the nearby desert wineries and pisco producers for a tasty tour of Peru’s world-class wines and brandies. Or, take a short drive to Paracas National Reserve for some phenomenal nature and wildlife tours.
6. Ride the Long Wave at Chicama, La Libertad
How to Get Here: The drive to Chicama is just under one and a half hours from Trujillo.
Wave hello to some of the gnarliest breaks in the Americas. Peru is home to multiple surfing, kitesurfing, and bodyboarding hotspots, including Pico Alto, Lima’s big wave, which can reach up to 8 metres in height!
Mancora, Los Organos, Cabo Blanco, Lobitos, Pacasmayo, Puemape, and Huanchaco are all prime beaches favoured by surf enthusiasts across the globe. But perhaps the most famous is Chicama.
Chicama (also called Puerto Malabrigo) boasts the world’s longest left-hand wave. Experienced surfers have managed to coast for upwards of two kilometres! The lack of crowds, lack of reef, plus a handful of boats for hire make Chicama a pristine place to take your surfing skills to the next level.
Our Expert Travellers can help you dream up a Peru experience to treasure for a lifetime. Start your journey by giving us a call anytime at 1-855-796-8359 or visit us at the store in your neighbourhood.