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8 Things You Must Do In Peru
Last Updated: December 2020
Peru is a mystical land filled with marvels and adventures, and honestly, when it comes to how to spend your time there, it's hard to narrow it down. Nevertheless, we've attempted it and here we've highlighted some particular favorites not to be missed when visiting Peru.
1. Explore Machu Picchu
Easily the most famous of all Peru attractions are the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu and for good reason. It is widely considered to be one of the few world attractions that manage to exceed its already-lofty expectations.
Arguably the most famous approach is hiking the classic Inca Trail - an unforgettable four-day trek traversing stone Inca stairways, deserted villages and terraced fields upon sheer Andean slopes. These famous treks fill up fast though and must be booked many months in advance.
If you're not up for the trek, Machu Picchu can also be reached by train and bus, taking approximately 2.5 hours from Cusco. This is a good chunk of your day lost to travel, but don't overlook the luxury of enjoying the spectacular scenery and arriving at the ruins bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to explore.
Another option well worth a mention is the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu . This is a particularly popular trek that incorporates experiencing the culture of the local Andean village families as well as exploring salt mines, waterfalls, thermal baths and more en route to the ruins. Choosing an alternate route to the classic Inca trails also allows you to enjoy your trek with fewer crowds to contend with, making for a supremely peaceful experience.
Take the train to Lake Titicaca
Believed by the Inca people to have been the birthplace of the sun, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America. Most famous for its man-made islands, the lake is host to the floating homes of the local Uros Indians. To maximize the experience of your Lake visit, catch the Titicaca train over the Andean altiplano and take in awe-inspiring landscapes, beautiful valleys with Adobe villages and plains dotted with Llamas.
3. Discover Cusco
There are several historical Incan sites within the city of Cusco - so many that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spending some time in Cusco before doing any trekking helps you to acclimatize to the altitude, and it is a very walkable city with so much to see. Highlights include one of the most amazing buildings in the world - Sacsayhuamán citadel - believed to have taken more than 20 thousand men working to extract stones from nearby quarries in the 15th Century. In addition to this, the Plaza de Armas, the Templo de la Sagrada Familia, and the Cusco Cathedral are all fascinating to see. Cusco truly is a treasure-trove for exploration.
Spend a day with the Condors
One of the world's deepest canyons, Colca , lies in the far south of Peru and is home to a flock of majestic condors. From the Cruz del Condor viewpoint, these magnificent birds can be viewed gliding, turning, diving and soaring amongst the spectacular canyons. With their 3.2 meter wingspan, the largest of any land bird, this is a rare and magical sight to behold.
Experience the Amazon
Peru is only second to Brazil for having the largest portion of Amazon Rainforest in the world. The Peruvian part of the Amazon is also arguably the most prolific section of all, boasting over 200 mammal and 1,000 bird species. You can paddle canoes along the picturesque waterways or even really get amongst it by assisting in a conserve the Amazon volunteering project.
6. White water raft on the mighty Rio Apurimac
Again, for the more adventurous types, Peru does not disappoint. Streams that begin high in the Andes gather power as they charge down towards the Amazon, creating epic white-water rafting experiences for those game to try. One of the most exciting is located close to Cusco, along the Rio Apurimac - carving through a deep canyon and ending with a series of challenging rapids amongst the towering cliffs.
Go sandboarding in Huacachina
For the thrill-seekers, look no further than the unique desert oasis of Huacachina, located just outside Ica. The most popular activity enjoyed amongst these massive sand dunes is sandboarding and dune buggy riding. You can rent sandboard equipment separately, or alternatively, most dune buggy tours will include sandboarding as well as sand skiing.
Stare in awe at the Rainbow Mountains
Located 100 km southeast of Cusco, these extraordinarily colorful mountains are said to have only been discovered in the last few years, with guided tours only beginning in 2016. Unfortunately, there is concern that this sudden influx of mass tourism is a threat to this environment . The painted Ausangate mountain is also believed to be the deity of Cusco by local Peruvians and is thus considered to be holy. Whatever their origins, they are bewilderingly beautiful and a must-see when visiting Peru.
As if this list isn't enough, there are many more attractions to Peru that make it a truly mesmerizing place to visit. Peru is a destination well worth some careful planning, so as to not leave anything spectacular unseen.
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