Peru is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination and is just begging to be explored. What makes this country so unique is the varying natural landscapes and habitats that exist within its borders. From desert oases to snow-capped mountain peaks, Peru has a little bit of everything for those wanting to get the most out of their time traveling around here. Peru has a lot of must-see spots to offers. Let’s explore the most beautiful places to visit in Peru.
If you are looking at traveling to Peru, more than likely Machu Picchu is at the top of your list. This ancient Inca citadel is the crown jewel of Peru and is its main tourist attraction with more than 1.5 million tourists crossing its threshold every year. Constructed in the 15th century, the Inca inhabited this city as a hideaway from the Spanish invaders. It was later abandoned and lost to history before being discovered again in 1911. Today, this city lies 2,430 meters above sea level and offers guests insight and understanding of the Inca culture and heritage.
Entrance Fee: With its extreme popularity, it is important to purchase tickets to Machu Picchu well in advance. Tickets are 224 soles per person and only 5,000 tickets are available each day. There is also a strict entry time table per ticket which will be enforced.
How to Get There: From Cusco, travelers will need to take a taxi to Ollantaytambo, a journey of about 2 hours. From there, hop aboard PeruRail, a train that winds through the Sacred Valley before arriving at the town of Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes, travelers will get on a bus that will take you to the entrance for Machu Picchu. It is not suggested to do this all in one, as staying one night in Aguas Calientes allows you to beat crowds and have a better experience.
Only recently discovered in 2015, these painted mountains have quickly become an Internet sensation. They were hidden for many years under layers of snow, but as Global Warming has affected Peru’s climate the snow melted away to reveal their beauty. Made up of more than 7 different natural minerals, the colors paint a rainbow across the horizon for a truly breathtaking landscape. This is a pretty extreme hike and not for the faint of heart. You will want to make sure that you are well acclimatized to the altitude and in fairly decent shape before embarking on this hike.
Entrance Fee: It is highly suggested to take a guided tour with a reputable company as they will arrange all details. A Rainbow Mountain tour will cost anywhere from 200 to 300 soles and will include all prices for transportation and entrance fees.
How to Get There: The tour company will arrange pick-ups very early in the morning. The Rainbow Mountain is about a 3-hour drive from Cusco.
This thriving metropolis is the capital and epicenter of activity in Peru. Situated along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, history and contemporary collide to offer a variety of one-of-a-kind experiences. Excite your taste buds as you partake in some of the best food around as Lima has been dubbed the “Culinary Capital of South America”. Stroll the Malecon in Lima’s up and coming neighborhood of Miraflores and even visit many of the museums and archeological sites that explain the backstory for this area.
How to Get There: The easiest method for reaching Lima is by plane as Peru’s biggest airport is located there. Many international flights depart from Lima, so it is easy to add a few days on to an itinerary as it is probable that you will already have a stop there.
Set away from the mountainous regions that are typically associated with Peru is the desert oasis town of Huacachina. Located 273 km south of Lima, this is the only desert oasis in existence in South America and offers visitors many unique and exciting adventures. Learn to go sandboarding or ride dune buggies along some of the highest sand dunes in the world as you take in this entirely new landscape
How to Get There: Huacachina is most easily accessed from the capital of Lima. Buses and taxis are available to transport to and from this area.
Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world, measuring 3,300 meters deep in some places. Its impressive scenery will connect visitors with the Peruvian countryside and stun those back home. Many Andean condors also call this slice of Earth home, captivating the bird-watchers among us. After a long day of hiking, soak your worries away in the thermal pools before exploring the small country town of Cabanaconde.
Entrance Fee: The entrance fee to Colca Canyon without a tour is 70 soles.
How to Get There: The closest major city to Colca Canyon is Arequipa. If stationed there, Colca Canyon can be completed on a full-day trip. If you are located in other regions of Peru, you must first travel to Arequipa via plane or bus before heading to Colca Canyon.
Yet another habitat that exists with Peru is the Amazon Rainforest. This vast and remote jungle territory is located in the northern regions of Peru, and is an experience for those looking for something more “off the grid”. Say goodbye to modern amenities as you glide along the rivers through dense forest brush. Be on the lookout for animals in their natural habitats, such as pink river dolphins and sloths before becoming one with the locals.
How to Get There: There are a couple of different access points for entering the Amazon Rainforest depending on the type of experience you are looking for. Typically, one will fly from Lima to the Iquitos Airport or into Puerto Maldonado. Because of the remoteness of the Amazon Rainforest, it is recommended to work with a travel agency to arrange all travel and lodging details.
The headquarters for all things Inca is the original capital of the Inca empire itself, Cusco. Positioned high within the Andes Mountains, this historical city has become a hub for tourists wishing to visit Machu Picchu. Within the city, Incan and Spanish architecture meet to create a vivid picture of this area’s tumultuous past. From eating, shopping, and exploring the cobblestone streets, tourists need to spend a few days in Cusco to acclimatize to the high altitudes before setting off on an adventure throughout the region.
How to Get There: Cusco can be accessed from any of the other major cities in Peru by plane or bus.
No one really knows how these mysterious geoglyphs came to be. These geometric designs were created by the ancient Nazca culture that inhabited the area around 2,000 years ago. Sadly, that is about all that archeologists know about them. They depict over 70 animals and plants in massive, 370-meter formations. They can be viewed from several observation towers, but the best way to truly appreciate them is from the sky.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the observation towers is 5 soles. A flight over the lines will cost about $80.
How to Get There: The Nazca Lines are located about 400 km south of the country’s capital of Lima. The area can be accessed by car or by plane.
Other than just being fun to say, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. Resting at over 3,810 meters above sea level, this freshwater lake is nestled between Peru and Bolivia. Set sail across the sapphire waters to explore the famous floating islands and connect with the indigenous people who still call this area home.
How to Get There: The headquarters for exploring Lake Titicaca is the town of Puno. This can be reached by plane, train or bus from any of the other major cities within Peru.
Featured Image: Rooftops of Cusco © Kenneth Moore / Flickr