Peru is a large country in South America.
Natural beauty, history and culture are three of Peru’s best features! From the Miraflores tourist resorts in Lima to the ancient Incan world in Cusco - Peru offers some of the best preserved ancient history to explore and amazing landscapes to see. In other words, there is so much to see and do!
Here Are a Few Activities to Add to Your Peruvian Itinerary
1. To Discover The Ancient World
The Incas and Quechuans left behind an abundance of ancient history in Peru. Unfortunately, much of it was destroyed at the time of the Spanish invasion.
It’s well known that one of the main reasons tourists visit Peru is to see the incredible Machu Picchu.
Fortunately it remained undiscovered by the Spanish Inquisition. It still remained undiscovered until more recent years. Although it is thought the locals always kept it a secret.
Machu Picchu was a huge religious site at the end of a huge pilgrimage that covered many miles and several countries. At the site you can see multiple temples, farming plateaus and houses including the house of the Inca (King).
You can get to Machu Picchu via Peru Rail from Ollantaytambo. Or as many adventurers do, take the classic four day Inca Trail hike through the Andes. The Inca Trail requires a booking months in advance with a guide.
Moray is an ancient farming site in the Sacred Valley near Cusco.
The site has several large circular pits dug out and formed into terraces. The different levels of terrace would provide a slightly different microclimate for farming. This allowed different varieties of crops to be grown on each level depending on the temperate.
The very bottom terrace would have the warmest microclimate and was capable of growing coca leaves which would usually be found in the Amazon rainforest. Other crops found here are maize, grains, beans and potatoes – did you know there are over 3000 types of potato in Peru?!
A fort or citadel at the top of the hill overlooking Cusco, this place is particularly impressive for its enormous stones structures.
It’s a mystery how the stones were transported there and stacked to form the walls. It covers a huge area and has an amazing view over Cusco town.
The Nazca Lines in Southern Peru are ancient lines drawn in the sand but on an enormous scale! They form huge glyphs and pictures in the sand. The best way to view the lines is by plane.
A huge clay structure found in the capital Lima. Layers upon layers of clay bricks were added to build up this structure. It is though that important people would have resided here. Each new leader would have added a new layer of clay bricks to the structure. Although much of it is left it is thought the structure would have been much taller!
Many ritual offerings were found inside the walls of this structure. Many of these included humans and even babies!
2. To Try Peruvian Delicacies
Very popular in Peru but certainly not to everyone’s taste! A raw fish dish with some spices. Widely enjoyed in Peru and can be purchased in many restaurants.
A type of brandy widely produced in Peru. The most popular pisco product is the Pisco Sour – a cocktail. Again it’s not to everyone’s taste but certainly worth trying!
A type of alcoholic drink made from maize. Usually it is pink in colour. Locals make this drink and hang a flag outside their home or shop to signify they sell it there. Locals will even hike part of the Inca Trail to sell it to hikers!
Perhaps not a delicacy. Nevertheless, coca leaves are widely consumed in Peru. They are used for altitude sickness and bursts of energy.
Coca leaves are illegal in other countries as they are used to produce cocaine. Ensure you don’t have them in your bags at the airport!
Peru produces a lot of chocolate. You will find chocolate museums in a few places. A total chocolate lovers dream! Chocolate coffee, chocolate liquor, chocolate soap. Chocolate everything!
3. Experience An Indigenous Culture
The Uros People
The Uros people live on Lake Titicaca shared between Peru and Bolivia. They live on floating islands made of reeds farmed from the lake. Their whole lives revolve around these reeds: they build islands, huts, boats and even eat the reeds.
Some of the Uros are happy for you to visit their island and you can do so with a daily tour. In addition you can see their homes and learn how they live. Some of the floating islands have had power routed to them to allow them to use televisions and radios!
The Uros are some of the only remaining people to speak Quechuan instead of Spanish in Peru. They are generally happy to have their pictures taken but be sure to ask – as some people might ask you to pay them!
4. Explore The Great Outdoors
Peru has some seriously impressive scenery. It’s a great place for people who love the outdoors and a big adventure. Some of these hikes are not for the faint hearted. Acclimatise with the altitude before attempting some of the below!
A very unique place a few hours drive from Cusco high up in the Andes mountain range. The top of the mountain sits at an altitude of 5,200 metres and it’s not an easy walk! Don’t attempt this hike if you are not acclimatised (trust me, I found out the hard way!). However if you still want to go you can rent a horse to take you up.
The Inca Trail
The “classic” Inca Trail is a four day 40km hike from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. There are several other options including the Salkantay which is typically a longer and harder route. On the other hand, you can travel some of it by train.
On this journey you will climb mountains, hike through the jungle, discover ancient sites and see some stunning scenery.
I can’t promise this is an easy hike. There will be 03:00am alarms, cold nights and hot days. However at the end of it all you arrive at one of the Wonders of the World – Machu Picchu.
Huaraz is an area north of Peru’s capital city Lima. It’s an amazing place for outdoor lovers! It’s sits next to the Cordillera Blanca mountain range and is a national park area. There are some great hikes to incredibly scenic areas such as Llanganuco and Laguna 69.
Huaraz is not an easy place to get to. There is only one low budget airline that flies there a few times and week (LC Peru) and most of the time the flight is rescheduled or cancelled. Consider taking the coach here instead.
One of South America’s largest lakes, Lake Titicaca sits on the border of southern Peru and Bolivia. Although the area seems very flat and the water shallow, the lake is actually at a very high altitude.
The lake is home to many indigenous people known as the Uros who live on floating islands here made of reeds. You can visit their islands along with Taquile island on a day trip from Puno. In addition you can pay a small fee to ride on one of their hand made reed boats!
A deep river canyon is southern Peru. It’s also referred to as “Condor Canyon” as it is known to be the home of these enormous birds. Colca Canyon is a popular spot for hikers and adventurers! There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here including rafting and mountain biking.
5. To Get Traditional
Maras Salt Ponds
Salt including Peruvian Pink Salt is widely available in Peru. Much of it is produced at the Maras salt ponds in the Sacred Valley near Cusco. The mine was used in the Incan period but is still operational today and farmed by locals. Different families own different ponds. The richer you are, the more you own
The water that runs through the valley here is naturally salty (you can taste it!) so it is the perfect location for salt production. A series of ponds hold the salt water. Gradually over time the water is evaporated and the salt is left behind. Different minerals are added to the salt which determines it’s use and colour. For example medical or with food.
You can visit this site on a dual day trip with Moray which is nearby. You can walk between the salt ponds and purchase many salt products from the market on site. For instance – salt lamps!
A traditional method of making textiles. Wool is taken from the llama or alpaca, made into long threads and dyed with natural colours. In some more remote places you can see a demonstration of this such as Chincero or Taquile Island.
On Taquile Island the men produce the textiles. The textiles here are famous and protected by UNESCO. Furthermore, men will wear different hats based on their marital status!
Travel Tip shared by Adventures of a Ginger