The 10 Best Things to Do in Peru – 2018
If you are planning your first visit to Peru, then you might want to consider the following list. From the cities of Cuzco, Lima and Arequipa, to the remote deserts, ruins, and jungles, the exploration never stops. While well-known for the remnants of the Inca civilization, Peru is both impressive for those ruins and for so much more. In the middle of every amazing vista, there are elements of culture and history that deepen the experience and help visitors to appreciate the way that modern Peruvians maintain ancient traditions.
The Best Things to Do in Peru
1. Get to know the History of Machu Picchu
Everyone associates Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city, with Peru already, but that doesn’t make it any less of a Peru must-see. As a royal and religious site for the Inca, this space feels sacred and opulent all at once. View the city from the Watchman’s Hut, explore the Temple of the Sun, and see the Royal Tomb and Palace of the Princess: you can easily spend a day without losing interest in the many small details of the preserved location.
Despite being a destination for many tourists, the Inca Trail gives meaning and history to the experience of coming over the ridge and seeing the city that lay unknown to all but the locals for so many centuries. You can also get to the sacred city by many forms of transportation, so don’t worry if a four day hike uphill isn’t exactly right for you!
2. Try a Treehouse in the Amazon
The Amazon Rainforest holds some of the most bio-diverse areas in the world, and with places like a Treehouse Lodge that allow visitors to “rough it” in a way that works hard not to harm nature, you can truly experience the life of those who live with the rainforest. While visiting the rainforest, you could see a glimpse of an endangered species, from a spider monkey to a scarlet macaw. Tourism in the area that works in harmony with nature rather than reducing habitat for these animals is part of a solution that will keep treasures of biodiversity available to world in the future.
3. Mountain Bike and Raft Across the Stunning Peaks
If you enjoy extreme sports, Peru can offer you the thrills that you are looking for. One of the biggest things to do in Peru is taking to the peaks on a mountain bike; with a great guide, you can ensure that you choose a path that will be appropriately intense, but won’t strand you in an unfamiliar place.
The many rushing rivers of the country also make river rafting a popular pastime, especially the Urubamba River, with exciting rapids and breathtaking views of the mountains and various historical sites. Make sure you talk with your guide and make sure you are prepared for the level of difficulty, but push yourself: a few intense rapids can make your heart leap as you participate in these amazing Peru activities.
4. Eat Peruvian Culinary Treats
Everything in Peru is about the food. In Lima, you’ll be stunned by the amount of quality, world-class cuisine available, and by the local influence. Everything from ceviche (raw fish mixed with citrus juice) to anticuchos (marinated grilled meat skewers) will be fresh, local, and served with Peruvian flair. Visit Arequipa for the rocoto relleno (spicy pepper stuffed with beef, cheese, and egg) and anything made with the many varieties of Peruvian potatoes. Honestly, the best plan for what to do in Peru when it comes to eating? Ask the waiter what they would order, and be as adventurous with your palate as you are with your exploring. The local cuisine draws on wildlife in the area, so you may discover a new favorite dish.
5. Get to know the traditions of the Andes Mountains
Throughout the mountains, from the Sacred Valley all the way to Machu Picchu itself, you will find that the Incan influence is still alive and strong. One Peru Must See is the view from the Cordillera Huayhuash and Cordillera Blanca – whether your speed is aiming for Everest or more like a stroll up a hill, you can find a mountaineering path that will bring you into contact with the locals while also challenging you to greater heights as an explorer. As you meet the locals, don’t be afraid to take in the beauty of traditional, brightly-colored woven garments or admire offerings to the Earth that acknowledge the balance between humans and their environment. Everything from traditional food to traditional dance in Peru can be part of your journey, if only you are patient and willing to learn from those you meet along the way.
6. See the Floating Islands of Uros
Perhaps no sight is as otherworldly for outsiders as the floating civilization of the Uru people. Located on Lake Titicaca, these dwellings are part of a centuries-old civilization that maintains many traditional life-ways from when they were first pushed onto the lake by the Inca. When you visit, you’ll see how modern technology has blended into life on the islands, which are made of a local reed that forms thick mats that can float across the surface of the lake. It is even possible to spend a night in one of the floating island homes, a truly immersive experience of life in Peru.
7. Stand (or fly!) in Awe of the Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines have astounded those who see them ever since the first aerial views of the Nazca desert were found. These carvings into the ground depict enormous animals and geometrical shapes, creating the mystery of how people on the ground could so accurately create such large-scale art, and for what purpose. An aerial tour will truly stun you and help you see the brilliance and resourcefulness of ancient people, including the Nazca themselves who lived 2000 years before the Inca. There are certainly theories that it would have taken alien invaders to make the figures that are hundreds of feet long, but most visitors who view the nearly-unchanged “geoglyphs” (lines made by removing rock and stone on the Earth) are merely left speechless by the effort and intelligence required to make them without the use of modern tools.
8. Visit Chachapoyan Ruins
The Chachapoya, or “People of the Clouds” left behind stunning sculpture, buildings, and mummies, some in amazingly well-preserved states. Explore the ruins and the remnants of this surprising and awe-inspiring culture. The geometric and sophisticated structures lead explorers of all kinds, professional and amateur, to wonder what prompted this ancient civilization to create larger-than-life statues, mummify their dead, and design dwellings in perfect circular shapes. Out of the typical journeying area of South Peru, this Northern Peru gem will delight people seeking Peru activities that take them off the beaten path.
9. View the Condors of Colca
In the mountainous zones of the country, you can also find great depths: Colca is one of the deepest naturally occurring canyons in the world. Pack your binoculars for a visit to Cruz del Condor, since the magnificent Andean Condor can be seen flying around with its incredible size: these birds can have a wingspan of more than 10 feet across! People journey to this far-southern canyon to see these now-endangered birds and marvel at the sheer size and majesty of them swooping over the canyons. A visit to Colca Canyon reminds you that Peru is a nation of extremes, and you’ll walk away certain that this visit is one of the best things to do in Peru.
10. Sightsee in Cuzco
Cuzco is known for both the ancient and the more recent historical aspects that can be explored within its area. Don’t discount this location just because some iconic locations are just outside its walls; Machu Picchu can share time with the cultural riches of the city. Whether you are visiting the Centro Qosqo Native Art Center or a Wildlife Sanctuary for local animals, you will find there is just as much to explore in the city.
When you have explored the museums, tried some local dance, and explored some historical churches, you can venture into the areas outside the city to see Sacsayhuamán, the amazing Inca fortress and temple. You’ll be in awe of the remains of this architectural structure and the strength it would have had in its heyday.
The limits of your exploration of Peru are the limits of your imagination: there is so much to see, explore, and try. Visitors tend to appreciate the chance to stay close to the many hubs of interesting sites, especially if they can also meet some locals and try the best local delicacies too. Contact us to learn how to get the support and itineraries you need to see all the hidden and not-so-hidden gems of Peru.