TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN PERU
Enjoy the land of the llamas with our 10 THINGS TO DO in Peru
Hi there, are you looking for some great things to do in Peru? We spent over 5 months in Peru during our Central and South America trip. That’s quite some time to get to know the country; and perfect to give you our personal recommendations for your trip to this amazing piece of earth.
When I thought about Peru before our trip started, I had just one picture in my mind: Machu Picchu with the Andes Mountains in the background. But Peru has much more to offer. So sit down and enjoy my Top 10 things to do in Peru.
1. Take a selfie with a llama at Machu Picchu
It’s not a big surprise that the famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu need to be on everybody’s bucket list. It is THE attraction in South America. Thousands of tourists visit the ruins every day with good reason: The scenery around Machu Picchu is just amazing and you won’t believe it is real until you see it with your own eyes.
Even though it is very touristy it is definitely a MUST-SEE when in Peru. Especially in the morning hours, when the sun rises above the surrounding peaks of Machu Picchu and many tourists are still sleeping, the view of the ruins is a moment you will never forget.
If you believe it or not, we almost skipped Machu Picchu because it can be very expensive. If you are a backpacker and not sure if your wallet is big enough for this unforgettable trip, you should read our ‘Machu Picchu on a budget‘ post.
2. Brush your teeth at altitudes of 4,000m
When in Peru you have to go for a hike at least once. We definitely wanted to go on a trek in the Andes one day and in the Cordillera Blanca we fulfilled our dream. The Cordillera Blanca is the highest tropical mountain range in the world and an amazing piece of nature. More than 50 mountains over 5,700m make this mountain range to one of the highest in the world.
The Santa Cruz Trek is the most popular trek in the Cordillera Blanca. The altitude along the trail ranges between 2,900m to 4,750m and we had 4 amazing days and 3 damn cold nights between snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes and beautiful meadows with cows, horses, and donkeys.
You want to know more about this amazing trek in the Andes? Check out our Santa Cruz Trek post and find all information you need!
3. Go piranha fishing in the Amazon jungle
Man, I had no idea that Peru has more than just mountains. 🙂 During our trip through Central and South America we wanted to see the real rainforest. The Amazon rainforest. It encompasses 6,400,000 square kilometers and the big surprise is: The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, but it is followed by Peru with 13%! Also the biggest isolated city in the world, Iquitos, with over 500.000 inhabitants is located in Peru.
But let’s talk about the tour. You will see soooo many different animals like monkeys, sloths, caimans, tarantulas, snakes and many more. You will go piranha fishing and can visit indigenous people. The Amazon jungle tour was one of our highlights in Peru and we wrote a detailed post about it with many pictures. Find useful information about tour operators, prices etc. in our Amazon Jungle post.
4. Ride down the Amazon River on a cargo boat
The Amazon River… Lush green, wide rivers, millions of animals, unfamiliar sounds, isolated villages, heat, and a lot of rain pouring down. This was the picture we had in our minds when we planned our trip to the Amazon Basin in Peru. And what can I say? It was exactly like this!
We took a cargo boat that supplies the villages along the river and slept in hammocks. It took us three days from Yurimaguas to reach our final destination Iquitos (Do you remember? It’s the biggest isolated city in the world.). Of course you can also take a plane to Iquitos but this Amazon River boat ride is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody though. The hygienic conditions are not really western standards 🙂 But if you can handle 3 toilets for 300 people, this is one of the best things to do in Peru.
You have no idea how to prepare for this adventurous river boat ride? Here is our helpful post.
5. Surf the longest wave in the world
Yes, you read it correct. Peru is a surfer’s paradise. However, it seems like not many surfers have Peru on their bucket list. There is no official world record about the longest wave in the world yet but there are two cities who are fighting for the title; both are located in the north of Peru.
Chicama is quite possibly the world’s longest wave for most surfers. But also Pacasmayo has a veeeery long wave. Good surfers can make more than 30 maneuvers in just one wave. No matter where you go in the north of Peru, the small surfer towns are not very touristy yet. You won’t find big hotels or hundreds of restaurants. If you are a surfer and you don’t care about wearing a wetsuit, visiting Chicama and Pacasmayo is one of the best things to do in Peru. However, if you are a surfer beginner, better start somewhere else. The waves are super exhausting and the rocky formations can be pretty dangerous even for experts.
6. Buy an alpaca sweater in Lima
Peru’s capital, with its 7.5 million inhabitants, is definitely not the nicest city in South America but still worth a visit. Usually ativan online no prescription tourists use Lima just as their starting or end point for their Peru tour. But Lima has some nice spots to discover. You should stay in Miraflores, the safest and most touristy area in the city.
From there you can join one of the free walking tours to visit the historic centre of Lima and to explore the city. You will find beautiful churches like the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco or the Cathedral of Lima. You can join food tours and cooking classes or just relax in one of Lima’s parks. You will also find the famous Larco Museum in Lima which is a private collection of a wealthy man obsessed with Inca and pre-Inca pottery. If you are a surfer, you will also find some nice spots around Lima; but more for beginners than for experts.
You see, there is something for everyone in Lima. So give that city a try 🙂
7. Keep your balance on a floating island on Lake Titicaca
To be honest we preferred the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, and the beautiful small island Isla del Sol. But if you want to see the famous floating islands of Lake Titicaca, you need to visit Puno in the far east of Peru.
The bus ride from Cusco (near Machu Picchu) to Puno was, in my opinion, the most beautiful ride we had during our time in South America, so don’t take a night bus!
Back to topic. The floating islands are made entirely of reeds which is pretty impressive. They are home to the Uros tribe, a pre-Incan civilization. Even though the islands are a pretty popular tourist attraction nowadays, it deserves a place in my top 10 things to do in Peru list.
For more information about a trip to Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca check out our post.
8. Take a photo of the biggest ape in the world at the Nazca Lines
If you have some money left, charter a small airplane and fly over the world-famous and super mysterious Nazca Lines in the Nazca Desert. The Nazca civilization flourished in this region roughly from 300 BC until 800 AD.
Why you need a plane? The lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs that range from wildlife to geometric designs and the largest figures are over 200m across!
The Nazca Lines were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and if you are interested in archeology or astronomy, this place needs to be on your bucket list for sure. (Foto credit: http://www.glogster.com)
9. Grab your snowboard and go sand boarding
I told you already that I was surprised about the enormous area the Amazon rainforest covers in Peru. But what surprised me even more was the Sechura Desert. It is located south of the Piura Region of Peru along the Pacific Ocean coast and inland to the foothills of the Andes Mountains. It covers a total area of 188,735 km²! Come on, you didn’t know that either, right?
So, what can you do when you have so much sand around you? There are some nice ruins like CHAN CHAN near the city of Trujillo in the north of Peru, which are worth a visit. But the best thing to do is of course: sand boarding. The perfect place for this crazy sport is Huacachina; a small oasis near Tica, a roughly 4.5 hour’s drive from Lima.
10. Eat a cuy
This is a bit unfair as my 10th tip is not for vegetarians but I just had to include it in my top 10 things to do in Peru. Cuy is the traditional food of the Peruvian Andean people. If you have no clue which poor animal ended up on my plate in the picture above, this is a guinea pig. I don’t know how you treat your guinea pigs in your home country but in Germany we have them as pets. And I think this is the better option for both; human and animal.
The taste of the cuy was actually not too bad and, to be honest, I had never eaten anything similar before. But there actually is not much meat on the bones of a cuy and therefore trying it once is enough :).
How to get around
Peru is a pretty big country and the easiest way is very often to fly. The connections are good and the prices are cheap. If you have a small wallet, you should check out Star Peru. This low coast airline was much better than expected and has the same owner like the famous LAN Peru which is usually more expensive.
The most popular way to travel is, of course, by bus. The buses in Peru have a very high standard. Especially on the tourist routes you will find many good companies. Even though Cruz del Sur is the most famous one amongst tourists, I can highly recommend Movil tours. They have the same standard (except for Wi-Fi on the bus in most cases) but they sometimes cost you only half of the price.
There are, of course, many more things you can do in Peru like visiting Arequipa and hiking the Colca Canyon, or relaxing at the beach in Mancora.
Peru has something for everybody and if you are not sure which country you should visit in South America, Peru is a good start 😉
I hope you liked my little post and that I could inspire you to visit more than just Machu Picchu! Please feel free to leave a comment below and don’t forget to share the post if you like it.
But now I am curios… Have you been to Peru? What are your top 3 highlights?
Thanks for reading and safe travels!