Loved the idea of the travel ideas spotlighted in our previous Amazon Adventures post? Why not make the most of your time in South America and spend a good chunk of time reconnoitring Peru? The South American nation offers a wealth of experiences, from trekking to ancient Incan ruins to exploring cosmopolitan cities.
Here’s a taste of what could be on your next travel itinerary:
Discover mystical Machu Picchu
A bucket list destination for intrepid travellers, Machu Picchu is a vision of ancient ruins framed by the Andes Mountains. If you visited back in the 1960s you’ll notice that things have changed a little since then. Today, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to visiting the world’s most famous Inca ruins. For the quintessential Machu Picchu experience secure a spot hiking the Inca Trail, a four to five-day long route that winds through 4200-metre high mountain passes to reach the magnificent Sun Gate, the original entrance to the Incan citadel. Numbers are limited and places fill up fast which means you’ll usually need to book months in advance.
If organisation isn’t your forte consider the Salkantay Trek, an Inca Trail alternative that will take you past rugged mountains and rural villages before hugging a jungle-clad railway line that winds up to Aguas Calientes, a lively town set at the base of Machu Picchu.
Don’t like the idea of a hike? Why not base yourself in Aguas Calientes, where you’ll find everything from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels. Not to mention irresistible happy hours – bring on the pisco sours.
Bite into Peru’s dynamic foodie scene
For seasoned travellers, ticking off Lonely Planet sights and attractions isn’t quite enough. If you know how to really live, breathe and taste a destination, sating your appetite will be a top priority. Peru is a paradise for foodies, with endless opportunities to devour fresh ceviche served with chili and corn, “lomo saltado” stir fried beef and cuy, a local delicacy of spit-roasted guinea pig. Follow up with impossibly rich Amazonian chocolate and perfectly shaken pisco sours. Gourmands will love sampling novoandina, aka modern Peruvian cuisine championed by fine-dining restaurants in chic enclaves like Miraflores in Lima. Across the country you’ll find colourful markets overflowing with exotic jungle fruits, coffee and cacao beans, sizzling meat kebabs and other tempting eats.
Adventure-soaked getaways to South America
Craving an adventure fix? Peru delivers with a whirlwind of outdoor escapades. In the desert oasis of Huacachina you can zoom along golden sand dunes in open-sided buggies, camp under the stars of simply relax by a palm-lined pool. Remote jungle lodges put you in the heart of the Amazon, while hiking trips in the Colca Canyon offer a unique chance to soak in natural hot springs and spot majestic Andean condors.
If wildlife makes you tick don’t miss Paracas, also known as “Poor Man’s Galapagos”. Boat cruises whisk you to Islas Ballestas and the Reserva Nacional de Paracas, where you can spot basking sea lions, guanay cormorant, Peruvian boobies, dolphins and Humboldt penguins. Whatever you do, don’t forget your binoculars and bird book.
Sun, sand and beach breaks in Máncora
Favoured by well-heeled locals and international sunseekers alike, Máncora is Peru’s signature beach resort. The sandy beach stretches for several kilometres along the country’s north-west coast and is lined with luxe resorts. Soak up the sun by day and devour ocean-fresh seafood and ice-cold Cusqueña after dark.
Brush up on your Spanish
While it’s definitely possible to visit Peru without knowing a word of Spanish, learning a few words and phrases in the local language will vastly enhance your experience. Not only will you be able to ask for bus times and decipher restaurant menus, but you’ll enjoy the freedom to connect with locals on a deeper level. Whether you’re a total beginner or want to brush up on your existing vocab, mobile apps like Duolingo can work wonders for your Spanish.
Have you been to Peru? We’d love to hear about your favourite destinations and experiences.