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10 Fantastic Things To Do in Peru

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Perú, what a beautiful country you are! The land of Incas, Cuys and Alpacas. I’ve visited twice, in 2010 and 2020, so many things have changed but the essence is the same. That’s why today I’ll share with you 10 things to do in Perú.

But first… Why is Perú so diverse and rich in both, nature and culture?

Peruvian territory consists of 3 main different ecosystems:

  1. Shore
  2. Mountains
  3. Jungle

While the shore is mostly warm and desert-like area, the mountains are cold and rainy -specially during rainy season which goes from December to March. The Jungle instead, is rather a tropical weather where it rains on average 200 days a year.

A huge curiosity about Perú is that the Jungle surface occupies 58% of the country and only 10% of the population lives in this area due to high forest density

Perú occupies the most important area of the Tawantisuyu which is the territory of the Incan empire, the biggest one in pre-columbian america.

Between the diversity of ecosystems and the historical heritage it is no wonder why Perú has become a world class touristic destination that will impress and give the proper adventure to anyone who explores it.

So you are looking forward to go but have no clue on what to do?

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1.- LIMA, FOOD AND PISCO SOUR

Lima’s Cathedral

The capital of Perú has a wider variety of things to offer. From incredible touristic attractions like San Francisco Convent to delicious food that you must try. 

Surely, you can spend 2-3 days exploring Lima without getting bored. Either you enjoy of the beautiful sights that Barranco Neighborhood has to offer or you simply enjoy of walking around the historical center.

2.- CORDILLERA BLANCA (WHITE MOUNTAIN)

Parón Lake in the Huayraz Province

While most of tourist will head south from Lima, you can go to a rather unknown destination of incredible beauty. Called “Cordillera Blanca” this beautiful area in the Andes mountains is home of many summits that are above the 5.000 m.a.s.l. including the Huascarán, the tallest mountain in Perú with its 6757 m.a.s.l.

Hot to get there?

1. Lima to Huaraz by bus:

It is the cheapest option. There are 2 buses:

Fast one: Costs 40 USD and takes 6:30hrs

Cheap one (therefore slow one)  10-18 USD and takes 8 hrs

If you manage to get a night bus, we recommend you getting the cheap one. You’ll save 30 USD and it will just take 1:30 over the fast bus.

2. Lima to Huaraz by car

Driving is the fastest way to get to Huaraz. Costs variates depending on how much you stop and the car you rent but a good estimate should be roughly $50 USD for one way trip. 

Surely, it is also the most entertaining experience as will allow you to explore at your own pace. Besides, once you get to Huaraz you won’t depend on tours to move around

3. Lima to Trujillo by Airplane and then a bus to Huaraz 

Get a ticket from Lima to Trujillos. Ticket cost on average 80 USD and flight time is 1:20. 

Get a bus from Trujillos to Huaraz. This ticket costs on average 14 USD and the trip lasts around 7:40 hrs

This option is the most expensive and the slowest but we suggest it as you’ll be able to visit Trujillos during the trip.

Once you got to Huaraz you can do a diverse variety of tours, most common ones are the:

  1. Callejón de Huaylas – a beautiful canyon with 2 lakes of almost photoshoped colors
  2. Pastoruri Glacier – a hike where you reach the 5.000 m.a.s.l. 
  3. Laguna Llaca – Gorgeus lagoon in a valley with an amazing view to the Ocshapalca mountain.

3.- HUACACHINA

The Huacahina Oasis

Thanks to its oasis located in the middle of the desert, Huacachina has become a must visit place in Perú. Luckily, if you are going from Lima to Cusco, it is on your way!

Do you Like ASMR?

If so be so sure to check out this great 4k ASMR video of Huacachina.

A experience like no other.

Perú is a huge country,  according to the world Atlas it is in the Top 20 countries by size area. Exploring it can take some time and that’s why we recommend PerúHop as a great option.

Their tours covers the central-south area passing by Huacachina.

This is a trendy Instagram place fulfilled with tourists but it also offers an interesting approach to nature. The oasis itself is interesting, but the sand dunes surrounding it are simply mind blowing. Check out this immersive video of Huacachina in Exploring Together Youtube channel

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Some of the sand dunes in Huacachina are 100+ meters high.

By far one of the most entertaining activities to do in Perú is sand buggy in Huachina. 

Be sure to check out the video down below to enjoy the experience

Besides, you can also do the Sand Buggies ($15 USD), in my opinion, a must do activity in Perú. 2 hours of good fun going up and down where you’ll be able to do sand boarding and enjoy of a gorgeous sunset. 

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Doing sand buggies at evening is an amazing experience where you’ll enjoy the sunset in the midle of the desert

Exploring Together Huacachina

Join me ridding a sick buggy in one of the most amazing dunes of this world!

Heading Perú?: Then check out “10 Things To Do In Cusco

4.- EAT

Ceviche is one of the typical peruvian dishes

Yes. Eating is a must do in Perú not because you want to avoid starving, you eat because it is an almost orgasmic experience. Perú not only has great adapted “French cousine” like dishes, it also has a lot of incan food that people consume on daily basis.

Either you are in a Gastón Acurio’s restaurant having a world class fancy dinner or eating in a cheap “cevichería” in San Pedro’s Market in Cusco. The amount of flavors and different experience that your tong will feel will be… well, almost orgasmic

If you are a weak traveler, a recommendation would be to not go full into Peruvian cousin just upon arrival. It has many spices that can produce stomach problems. Go with the classic ones, a lomo saltado or some tiraditos.

Though, if you are a real explorer, just deep into the strangest things like cow heart or cuy. Simply get 3 litres of Gatorade and your night diarrhoea will be gone at the first hour. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, so be sure to have travel insurance to turn to if need it.

5.- PARACAS NATIONAL PARK

The red beach in Paracas National Park

Paracas was a surprise. The small town offers a great variety of sea food that you can have for fairly cheap prices -if you are from an expensive city then you’ll feel like Bill Gates- and an interesting coastline to walk in.

But the big deal is the Paracas National Park. A great way to explore it is to rent a quadbike and go around it, otherwise, simply get a tour and visit the main attractions like the red beach and the paracas cathedral.

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“The Cathedral” in Paracas
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The Red Beach

“The Cathedral” in Paracas national park is one of the main touristic destination. Personally, I think it should be called a shark fin

The read beach was a ceremonial place where the paraquences (native people from Paracas) would jump to the sea as self-offering to Gods.

Paracas also has some of the oldest cultures of el Perú

This place of wonderful natural also offer great activities that you can do in an hour or two Besides exploring the Paracas National park, kitesurfing, walking tours and boat tours to ballista island are common activities to do.

6.- PERU JUNGLE

Mountains, deserts, ocean, jungle… Peru has an insane amount of different ecosystems and getting to know them is something to be grateful for

While the Andes were once conquered by the Incas, the Jungle is still in possession of the animal kingdom. But not any animal kingdom, we are talking about the Amazonas.

I have a friend that has visited the Amazonas in Bolivia, Perú Southern side of Brazil and in the north of Brazil as well. He once explained it to me like this:

The difference between the amazon in Perú and Bolivia is like Madrid and Paris. And Peruvian Amazon compared to the Brazilian Amazon is like comparing Madrid and Kiev. You know both are in Europe but they are totally different.by Lucas Molina

Visiting the Peruvian Amazon is a humbling experience of understanding a couple of things:

  • Nature is our home, our mother, and we have evolved without taking proper care of her.
  • Learning on how to preserve nature is the only way to enjoy a healthy world in the future years.

Something deep inside of you will be touched and moved. Either the sounds, the density of trees or whatever it is down the water that your are freaking out hoping for a piranha or a caiman to not eat you. Honestly, I don’t know but it is like staring at the stars. You just can’t handle it, but you’ll enjoy every second of it.

7.- CUSCO

Totally sure that the Americas’ equivalent to “All roads leads to Rome” would be something like “All trails leads to Cusco”. The capital city of the Inca empire is a total must visit.

Cusco isn’t a normal place, the heritage of the Incas and the Spanish influence are noticeable in every aspect of the city. The mix of Inca ruins like the 12th angle stone where on top is a classic Spanish house can be seen everywhere in this city.

The diversity of this place is so amazing that at the very least you’ll see things like:

  • Women dressed in their native clothes
  • Cathedral and churches that have nothing to envy to European ones
  • Alpacas
  • Inca ruins like Sacsayhuaman
  • A massive Christ on top of the city 
  • Inca statues
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Besides walking in the city and visiting museums, the surroundings of Cusco also offers amazing day trip adventures like going to Pisac or the sacred Valley of the Incas. You can easily spend 3-4 days in this city. We highly recommend dedicating at least an evening to simply walk around it.

Also, just 20 kilometers away from Cusco is the Sacred Valley (Next Bullet Point) a place that you should spend some time to explore.

7.1.- SACRED VALLEY (CUSCO)

Somehow this one is a “bonus” as it is considered as “Cusco” activity but it is not the same. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire, the Sacred Valley was not considered -and still isn’t- part of Cusco.

The Sacred Valley is a small area from Pisaq to Ollantaytambo that has microclimates and fertile soil allowing the Inca empire to farm potatoes, cereals and fruits. Such was the importance of this place that the Incas had strategic military bases to keep control of it.

Nowadays, The Sacred Valley is like a museum area that you should take the time to explore. Not all the touristic destinations are a must go, but I do totally recommend visiting at least the top 4 in the following list.

  • Ollantaytambo (must visit)
  • Pisac
  • Maras
  • Moray
  • Chinchero
  • Calca
  • Yucay

Of course, how many places you visit will totally depend in the amount of time and money that you have. But let’s assume there is only one place for you to visit in the Sacred Valley, then I’d totally suggest you to go to:

8.- OLLANTAYTAMBO

Adriana is a Quechua woman living in Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo has a special place in my heart. The first time I visited Perú it “wowed me” almost as much as Machupichu itself. 

San Bernardo in Ollanta

With way less crowded ruins and a much more attractive town than Aguas Calientes, I totally recommend spending at least a night there.

It is like the best of Machupichu and Cusco merged together. Besides, it is a small town where you can easily walk everywhere. 

What nowadays is a lovely town with nice restaurants used to be a fortress strategically placed to kept control over the Sacred Valley. It also became the provisory capital of the Incas during the Spanish conquest. 

Somehow, something is special in Ollanta. Either the way the sun makes its way to “hit” the ruins or the more relaxed vibe that allows you to sit down, breath and look at where you are standing. I might be overthinking it, but I don’t think so. Let me know in the comments below if you have been there and felt the same.

Lastly, people in Ollantaytambo are friendly. Very Friendly. Totally recommended to simply go and try to talk some Quechua woman and ask them “Hola, cómo está?” You’ll see that she will smile you back with a nice smile -while also trying to sell you a very cheap chicha drink :).

9.- ROAD TO MACHU PICCHU

Walking to Aguas Calientes from Hydroelectric back in 2009

It is almost certain that you will do this while you explore Perú as to get to Machupichu you’ll have to either take a train or go walking by the train line. No matter which one you do, it is a great journey where you’ll be joined by the Urubamba river and the jungle.

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(2009) Walking to Machu Picchu is exhausting but fun experience. You get to see the jungle, walk at the side of the Urubamba river and see -and dodge- the main trains passing by.
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(2009) Walking to Machupichu is exhausting but fun experience. You get to see the jungle, walk at the side of the Urubamba river and see -and dodge- the main trains passing by.

So which one should you do?

If you have time, no money and don’t mind walking, then get to Hidroelectrica by bus – $9 USD one way from Cusco- and have fun while you walk on the train lines. But be careful with the train!!

If you have money and don’t have time. On my way I took the expensive -but totally worth- Peru Rail Sacred Valley Wagon and in the way back I did the vistadome which, lucky me, got the first seat so I was looking at the rails from a driver’s POV.

That being said, when using the train I missed the more adventurous walk to Aguas Calientes, but being honest, I am not sure if I’d have been able to accomplish it as I was carrying my bag pack plus my camera bag that weights around 14kgs with laptop included.

So I guess it is pretty clear that even though I do encourage to do the walk, if you aren’t in your prime or you are having inconvenients -like heavy bagpacks or some kind of mobility problem- it is better to do the train. 

Editing the first Peruvian Series video in the front row.

But! Another great option and very common thing to do is to do a bit of both world is also to get to Aguas Calientes walking and come back in the Train.

This will not only allow you to enjoy the train ride but also save one way ticket. If you are doing this option be sure to go walking and take the train back. After Machupichu you’ll be very exhausted so we don’t recommend it doing it the opposite way

Editing in the front row of the Vista Dome Wagon while heading back to Ollantaytambo

The two times I have been to Machupichu I went by the train lines. However, I am well aware that the road to Machupichu can be done by hikes, like the Inca Trail or the Sulkantay and I assume, these hikes will only corroborate independently on what Road to Machupichu you do, it is by far one of the best things to do in Perú.

Salkantay hike is another great option to get to Machu Picchu. Note: you reach 4.650 m.a.s.l. so we recommend spending some time in Cusco to get used to altitude before doing it.

10.-MACHU PICCHU

There is a reason why Machupichu is a wonder of the world… I mean, look at it:

Even if you go for a business trip to Perú, you should be stopping by Machu Picchu. It is just a wonderful place in every single aspect. While the ruins are amazing, the valley that surrounds it is almost as epic as the citadel itself.

Certainly one of the most amazing things about Machu Picchu is the hill where it is located as it has 400 meters cliff at both sides. When Incas built this place they drag the stones -some of them weighting more than 50tons- from the bottom.

Think it this way… If you want to walk from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, it will take you on average 1:30hrs in an almost vertical inca ladder that extends for more than 400 meters. Just the walk will make you sweat as if you’d running a marathon. 

However, it is the best way if you want to get early and enjoy the morning in Machu Picchu. To get the pictures from above, I woke up at 4am. At 5am I was in the gates and at 5:40 I was 2nd in the line to enter Machu Picchu. I literally hiked the hill as fast as I could but the image I got makes it totally worth it. It is Machu Picchu and 0 tourist on it.

Getting to Machu Picchu (Summarize):

  1. Walk for 1:30 min on average
  2. Pay $19 USD and take the shuttle

Personally, I totally prefer doing the walk over the bus as I think this last one is a total rip off. But once again, you should consider taking the bus if you are not in your prime shape.

The Inca Bridge

Depending on your ticket, you can either go to Montaña Machu Picchu or Wayna Picchu. Last time I had the ticket to Machu Picchu mountain but I must admit that I met a beautiful girl and preferred exploring the ruins with her rather than climbing the mountain. Priorities explorers… priorities! 

Though in 2009 I climbed Wayna Picchu and it was a great adventure. You’ll climb the famous “death” ladders -you can easily kill yourself if you are not cautious- and reach the top of the mountain where you’ll look at the ruins from above.

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View of Machu Picchu from Wayna Picchu

If you can’t go to Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, do not worry. Surely they are great places to go, but you are already in Machu Picchu a wonder of the world.

The most important thing is that you enjoy every moment of it. Try find a place where you cant isolate a bit from the just wonder in this absolutely amazing place.

And so Explorers! This is our recommended 10 things to do in Perú! If you enjoyed this article give it a share and subscribe to our newsletter to get a monthly free image and to not miss the adventures of Exploring Together!

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