From the deserts of the Pacific coast to the Amazon rainforest, from the world’s tallest navigable lake to the world’s largest tropical mountain range, Peru offers a wide range of landscapes and such different climate zones.
And among mountains, forests and deserts are the remains of dozens of ancient civilizations.
So, Peru has it all and it is so difficult to make a top because everything is so amazing in their own way.
Below I will try to select only a few of the fantastic things that Peru has to offer.
- Discover the Magic of Machu Picchu
When you think of Peru, there is only one thing that comes to your mind – Machu Picchu.
It is indeed one of the most beautiful attractions in Peru.
This Inca city, uncovered during the Spanish conquest, forgotten and undisturbed for centuries, is located in the most amazing area, surrounded by beautiful mountains, subtropical jungle, and lush forests.
Machu Picchu is translated as “the old peak”.
Historians believe that this city was used as a holiday residence by Inca Emperor and his servants because it is situated at a lower altitude than Cusco on a mountainous hill near the Amazon basin, so it had a milder winter with a warmer climate.
Visiting Machu Picchu is magical, and once in a lifetime experience.
- Test your strength on an ancient trail “Inca trail”
The most famous hiking Trail in South America passes along breathtaking archaeological sites, it is cut through the exuberant sea of clouds and climbs through steep passes to reach Machu Picchu.
Of course, you can reach it via train and bus, but there’s nothing quite like reaching Machu Picchu after walking for days in the footsteps of the very people who built it.
It is not only the walk, it is the combination of natural beauty and history that makes Inca trail so amazing. Along the way you will see various Inca ruins that are all many times less crowded than Machu Picchu, and most are open for exploration without any limits. More about Inca Trail here.
- Go crazy with a “Mad Max” like experience in the Paracas desert
One of the most popular activities in Paracas is to go on a sand buggy ride in the desert.
They might look small but are so perfect for the high-adrenaline rush that you need.
We rented the buggy and went crazy in the desert before we stopped to enjoy the perfect sunset over the ocean.
One of the best sunsets in the world is in the desert.
The dunes turn to an orange mountain of sand when the sun drops below the horizon.
- Visit the floating island of Uros
In the Andes, on the world’s highest navigable lake, you can find the Uros people. They are believed to be descendants of the earliest inhabitants of Lake Titicaca. They live on islands made of living reeds that float around the lake and make their living from fishing and from selling their reed handicrafts to tourists.
It’s hard to imagine how these people can live on an island which is just a few meters long.
Nowadays, the islanders strive for a better future for their children. The young “Uros” are beginning to receive a better education and it is likely that they will not return to live on the “floating island”. The days of this old community will most likely end with the next generation.
So, it is better not to miss such and experience of seeing and ancient culture and their traditional way of living.
- Have a homestay with the locals in Amantani
Amantani Island is an island on lake Titicaca, an island where traditions are preserved.
It is one of the most beautiful islands of the lake. Their main activity is farming, producing potatoes, oca, barley and beans. Its textile industry is similar to Taquile, in variety and design.
On Amantani island, you can become a direct participant in the local culture and not just an observer. So be prepared to spend an entire day with the local family to see their usual way of life.
It is an authentic experience that touches your heart.
- Experience a real oasis in Huacachina
Known as the “Oasis of America” it is one of the only true desert oasis in the Americas.
A green island in a sea of sand and it’s not a mirage! The amazing oasis town flourishes in the middle of the driest place on Earth.
One of the best things that you can do here is to climb to the top of a wind-sculptured sand dune and watch the sunset illuminate the golden landscape, before sailing down the slopes on rented sandboards or dune buggies. More about it here.
- Don’t miss the wild life in Ballestas islands
The coastal line of Peru is made up of dessert, but because of the Peruvian stream that flows from the Antarctic on the Pacific coast, this place is full of wild life. The vast quantities of plankton are perfect for a multitude of animals.
Ballestas islands are a collection of rocky islets, the ideal habitat for various species of birds and a wide rage of wildlife like seals, sea lions or penguins.
Come here on a sunny day and you’ll see some lazy sea lions enjoying the siesta, or penguins waddling about. It is a very interesting experience.
- Buy some pink Peruvian salt at its own source,
In the Sacred Valley, high up in the mountains, on a valley, lies a series of salt pools, fed by one small saltwater stream since Inka times: Maras salt pools.
These pools were first created sometimes in the XIV century by the Incas and are still producing salt today.
Salt is harvested from the shallow pools via a natural process of evaporation.
During the dry season, all the water evaporates, leaving thr pink Peruvian salt.
The whole image is unbelievable.
- Get amazed by the circles of Moray
Though Machu Picchu is clearly the favorite spot when it comes to Incan archaeology, Sacred Valley is also a must.
Beside the ruins and archaeological sites, the region is well known for its remarkable landscapes and lush agriculture. Inka people were using very advanced agricultural technics, such as the terracing system and irrigation using aqueducts.
In Moray, for example, they used circular terraces that demonstrate the high level of culture the Inca civilization achieved.
Moray it was considered a crop lab– they use terraces to create micro-climates and grow various products brought from the empire. The difference of temperature during the year between the upper part and the bottom of the pit can be 15 degrees Celsius.
- Buy a beautiful colorful souvenir
Textiles are important in Peru. Who doesn’t love brightly colored, super soft, or elaborately patterned gifts to take back home to friends and family.
Weaving is a part of the Andean culture that has survived for thousands of years. Don’t miss to see how they are producing textiles using wool from their llamas and alpacas, colored with natural dyes derived from plants and minerals. The designs they use and the costumes they make from these wonderful textiles vary from village to village
- Feel the adrenaline when Sandboarding
Boarding is considered a winter sport. It doesn’t get any better than flying down a mountain covered in the fresh fluffy white stuff. But it is not correct. The opportunity to board in the desert is intriguing.
Peru has great geography with a variety of dune range along the coastline just perfect for sandboarding.
On a buggy tour, you’ll be taken on the ride of your life, strapped to a dune buggy racing up and down the dunes at surprisingly high speeds up to the top of a tall dune. You’ll board down and get picked up at the bottom, then taken to the top of an even bigger dune.
It’s definitely the of the most intensive experience.
- Taste the real Peruvian cuisine
Having a long history and diverse geography that allows cultivating a large variety of vegetables, Peru has one of the most delightful and surprising cuisines in Latin America.
The Peruvian star is the potato. Peru has more than 5000 types of potatoes, a plant that appears to have been born on the high plateau near the Titicaca lake. Another dish that you shouldn’t miss is the ceviche.
Taking full advantage of an extensive 1,500-mile coastline, cooks marinade fresh seafood in lime juice before turning up the heat by adding limo or rocoto chilies. Lomo saltado is another dish that we fell in love with. Lomo saltado is beef steak with onions, tomatoes, typically served with rice and french fries.
Guinee pig (known as cuy) is also a Peruvian delicacy. What they are is a delicious delicacy best served with potatoes and salsa.