Temples and stony citadels, alpacas and coca plant tea, colourful clothing and colonial architecture combine to create the mystical land of Peru, where one of the world’s greatest treasures – Machu Picchu – awaits high in the Andes mountains.
We’ve put together a list of the top things to do to make sure you don’t miss a thing when you complete your own tour comparison Peru!
Magnificent Machu Picchu
Standing over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ brings a new level of ‘wow factor’ to the ancient Incan citadel. Don hiking boots to tackle the Inca Trail, passing Dead Woman’s Pass with the support of hardworking porters, or choose the lazy train option – whatever your preference an organised tour of Peru will help make the dream of so many travellers a reality. Be sure to climb further up to Inti Punku (sun door) to enjoy spectacular views across the whole sanctuary of Machu Picchu and the striking mountain that rises above it, Huayna Picchu.
The gate to Machu Picchu: Cusco
Macchu Picchu’s Inca-Spanish base is teeming with either excitable trekkers or flaked out hiking ‘conquistadores’. Nearly everyone will pass through at least the well-stocked markets and lively nightlife once during their time in Peru.
Treat your taste buds in Lima
The colonial era architecture of Barranco, main square of Plaza De Armas and the fashionable parks of Miraflores form one layer of Peru’s capital, with the next an abundance of fusion restaurants. Experiment with your favourite plate of ceviche, lomo saltado or for the more adventurous, the national dish of cuy – guinea pig. Ensure you always cleanse the pallet with a pisco sour.
Sandy fun in Huacachina
Replace snow and mountains with sand and dunes to find an oasis of adventure, with rapid sand boarding and gnarly buggy rides in this tiny palm-tree desert town.
The Nazca Lines
Condor’s eye view is the only way to see more than 70 enormous zoomorphic geoglyphs in the red plains of Pampa Colorado, south of Lima. Drawn by the ancient Nazcas thousands of years ago, they were only discovered in the 1940s with the invention of aerial flights.
Climb the Cordillera Blanca
The Cordillera Blanca is the highest tropical mountain chain in the world, reserved for expert mountaineers, with snow-capped peaks soaring between 4,800m to 6,662m. The reward? Outstanding views seen nowhere else but computer screensavers.
South America’s answer to the Grand Canyon: Colca
Colca Canyon redefines the concept of ‘grand’, since it is nearly twice the depth of its North American counterpart, with beautiful terraced fields dating back to pre-Inca times.
Try coca tea
Made from the leaves of the coca plant, from which the drug cocaine is derived, this traditional tea is recommended to counteract altitude sickness. With a small amount of the alkaloids that cause the ‘high’ from cocaine, the tea acts as a mild stimulant similar to a cup of coffee.
Spot Peruvian animals
Llamas and alpacas graze high-altitude fields, while Andean condors and Peruvian boobies – a kind of bird endemic to the country – circle above or share their song from the trees.
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC