Mostly known for Machu Picchu but this incredible Inca ruin is not the only reason why Peru should be very, very high on your travel bucket list. Here’s a short list of things you can see, do and experience in beautiful Peru.
1. Hike amongst stunning mountains
The Andes stretches the length of South America and some of the most scenic and accessible parts are in Peru. The Inca trail is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think hiking in Peru, but in the north of the country, around a 30 hour bus ride from Cuzco, is where the real action is. Huaraz is a great town to base yourself and acclimatise before heading into the mountains. There are many tour companies and outdoors shops to help prepare you, as well as good restaurants and bars. Huawash and the Santa Cruz trek are the most popular in the area and there are now many different variations from 3 to 14 days of camping and hiking through rugged nature. Make sure you’re well prepared as you’ll be passing over many peaks above 5,000m where every day you will be blown away by the beauty around you.
Laguna 69 is a one day hike to a gorgeous turquoise laguna. With an elevation of 5,600m starting early in the morning, this is quit difficult terrain but definitely worth it once you walk through stunning valleys with waterfalls that would remind you a famous oil painting.
The hike to Rainbow mountain near Cuzco is different to other hikes. As per its name the mountains are all shades of red and cream colours due to the many different minerals. With an elevation of 5,600m, this is another challenging one day hike.
There are many other alternatives to hiking the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu and the Salkantay trail is the most scenic and challenging. Crossing the Salkantay pass on day two surrounded by glaciers and peaks around 5,600m is stunning and an amazing contrast when you drop down into rainforest, passion fruit, avocado and coffee plantations. If you’re more interested in archeological sites and indigenous villages the Lares trek is another great option to reach Machu Picchu.
2. Surf the longest wave in the world, in a desert.
Peru offers some of the best surf in South America, with a very different backdrop. Chicama is classed as the longest wave in the world, reaching lengths of 3kms when the conditions are right. But it’s not the only break in the area either, there are many uncrowded beaches and long left hand point breaks to surf. Huanchaco is a little town which lies in a dessert and gives you an amazing, and incredibly strange feeling that you are resting somewhere in the Middle East.
3. Experience a real desert oasis
Huancachina is a little oasis town full of adventure. Here you can make the most of the sand dunes surrounding the town. You can hike, walk, sandboard, ski or drive in dune buggies up and down the sand dunes. The higly recommended place to stay is Eco Resort with beautiful safari tents. Further out of town you can visit a few wineries producing pisco and wine. Tacama is the oldest winery in South America with a beautiful property and tasty wines.
4. Taste ceviche
Fresh raw fish with loads of lime juice and onion is probably the most traditional dish in Peru. Found in every town around the country this specialty is a must. Lima is not only the capital of Peru but the capital of food. Quantum of restaurants combine Peruvian taste with international cuisine. Here you can find Japanese style ceviche, Thai style ceviche or even vegetarian made of limed mushrooms.
5. Drink Pisco
Peru has been in a long fight with Chile over who created Pisco and which country produces the best. Definitely worth trying in each country, why not? Both countries produce different types of Pisco, some to drink straight and some are specifically made for the famous Pisco Sour cocktail, don’t miss it!
6. Explore Inca ruins
The Inca was a family dynasty that ruled the area from North of Colombia right down to the north of Chile during the 12th to 16th century AD. You can find many ruins through this whole area but Cuzco was the centre of the empire and has the biggest and most well preserved sites. Even right in the centre of the city with Spanish colonial buildings built on top of them, now housing museums, government departments, banks and even shops and restaurants. The most famous of course is Machu Picchu, but around the city of Cusco and throughout the sacred valley are many more worth the visit.
7. Experience the local culture and traditional clothing
Though mainly found in the smaller towns and communities, it is still possible and exciting to see people wearing their traditional outfits. Of course each town means different styles, different colours and different native cultures. In Huaraz we found the most styling women with their extra tall bowler hats and in Cusco men and women with crazy colourful florissant fabrics and very interesting hats with a yellow fringe.