South America: Things to do in Peru
As part of my 76 days South America tour, I’ll be doing a quick overview of the highlights in each of the countries I’ll be visiting!
Mention Peru and an image of Machu Picchu automatically pops up. But Peru is more than that with her Andean peaks, deserts and lush rainforests in the Amazon. Of course I was guilty of this too and it was only after some reseach did I discover that there are so many more thing to do in Peru.
1) Follow the Inca trail to Machu Picchu
I know I just said that there is more to Peru than Machu Picchu, but there is no way anyone can leave this out of any things to do in Peru list. You can get to this ancient Inca city by train or bus, but the most interesting/adventurous way is to follow Inca trail. The famous 43km four day trek snakes around the mountains, passing by smaller ruins before cumulating at Machu Picchu. It is often booked months in advance so plan ahead if you want to do this. (no way to do this trail independently).
2) Fly over the Nazca Lines
If crop circles were not made by aliens, they were probably inspired by the Nazca lines. These ancient geoglyphs are made up of some 300 geometric figures and 70 animal/plant drawings like the spider seen above. There is even one that looks like an astronaut! The only way to appreciate the Nazca lines of course is to take a small aircraft flight over them. Probably an out of this World experience!
3) Sandboarding in Huacachina
With sand dunes surrounding the town with a lagoon in the middle, Huacachina is like a picturesque oasis in the desert. Sandboard your days away or take one of the high speed dune buggy rides before chilling by palm trees and ancient buildings in town. Huacachina is just 5km from the city of Ica and about 5hrs by bus from Lima. I heard that sandboarding is pretty different from snowboarding so look out unless you want to have mouthfuls of sand for lunch or dinner.
4) Visit the Chanchan ruins
The ancient sprawling complex of Chan Chan is the largest adobe city in the World. This ancient archaeological site is made up of mud walls with detailed images of warriors and sea life in the past. This pre-Inca capital of the Chimu kingdom is threatened by natural disasters like storms and earthquakes so visit it before it’s gone. It is easily accessed from Trujillo, which is just 5km away.
5) Condor watching at Colca Canyon
Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon is also home to the rare Andean condors. Make your way through a couple of mountain villages in the stunning mountain ranges before arriving at the Colca Canyon. Trekking is popular here and can be done through the numerous tour agencies from Arequipa. Arrive either early in the morning or later afternoon and you might just catch the Andean condors gliding in the air!
6) Surfing and partying at Mancora
photo credit: Jennifer Kolbuc
This beach resort is the best spot for surfing in Peru and you can surf year-round. And like any popular beach resort, it also has a very vibrant party scene, especially during summer. Mancora seems like a great place to break away from all the hiking and sightseeing to just lay back and party hard.
7) Explore Lima
photo credit: CanuckAbroad
The capital and largest city of Peru may seem unattractive at first, but this desert city is very rich in culture and history. There are tons of excellent museums, churches, spanish colonial architecture, eerie catacombs, and even a couple of ancient ruins. Either way, you’re likely to pass by Lima en-route to other sites!
What else is there to do in Peru? Drop a comment below!