The 5 Best Tourist Destinations in Peru
Like other countries of South America, Peru has several attractions that make it a complete and seductive tourist destination. The variety of climates and landscapes, their biodiversity and the presence of indigenous ancestral communities are key features. But there is something else that brings in millions of visitors every year: the archaeological ruins of one of the continent’s most important civilizations.
Peru is the third largest country in Latin America and, throughout its territory, you can find all kinds of natural and urban areas. In every region, there is something to see, and, in this article, you will discover the 5 best places to visit.
It is the capital of Peru and an internationally renowned gastronomic center, so eating out is one of the best plans during your days in the city; especially if you are a seafood lover. In addition to that, if you travel there between December and April, you can enjoy summer activities on beaches such as Barranco (in the bohemian neighborhood that bears the same name), Parasols, Playa Blanca or the Nymphs. Another indispensable activity, as in every city in the world, is to take at least one day for a cultural tour. Lima has several historic buildings and museums, and in its surroundings, there are well-preserved tourist sites such as the Huaca Pucllana Site Museum and the Pachacamac archaeological complex.
In any tourist area of Lima, you will find handicraft shops and typical objects at a very good price. The textile and gold work is impressive, so take the opportunity to get unique pieces.
2. The Sacred Valley
It is the most visited region of Peru and one of the most popular in South America. Here you will find Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and the ruins of Machu Picchu, classified as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World for being a work of exemplary architecture and engineering. The city of Cusco has many historical, cultural and entertainment attractions, making it one of the most preferred destinations for backpackers. You will also find luxury hotels that organize your tour of the best museums, churches and other places of interest around. One attraction that cannot be missed is the Mercado San Pedro, a space full of color, aromas, crafts and curiosities in an environment typical of the Andean cultures.
Your visit to Machu Picchu can be underwent with a tour guide or on your own, by train or foot, by local bus or . You decide, although it is always better to know your possibilities well and choose one that allows you to stay as long as possible among the ruins, since the visit deserves a whole day. In addition to that, the Valley has other fascinating spots such as Pisac, with its ruins and handicrafts market, the salt marshes of Maras, the thermal springs of Calca and many more.
3. Lake Titicaca
There are two ways to visit Titicaca: through the usual route to Puno or a more local and adventurous route to Llachon, an indigenous village of important community tourism. It depends on how fast you want to get to the lake and how demanding you are in terms of amenities. Both destinations are reached by land from Juliaca, a city not pleasant for tourists, in which you will not want to spend more than a few hours. If you want everything to be well organized, Puno is a charming city where there is a wide offer in terms of culture and entertainment. Boats embark from here that travel across the lake to the Islands of Uros, artificial islands made of totora where some families of the Uru ethnic group live. Unfortunately, in this area, the water is heavily polluted by the poor management of waste water.
The other option may take a little longer, but the final destination is a charming town, inhabited by very friendly indigenous families, who have built adjoining houses for adventurous tourists. The place is very comfortable, the food delicious and nutritious, the landscapes are breathtaking, and the atmosphere is ideal for those who want to enjoy this sacred place with a calm spirit. In addition to that, you can take several walks, hike around Titicaca, visit the Uros Islands and, if you are brave, bathe in the freezing waters of this new area.
4. Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
Arequipa is the second most populated city in Peru and one of the most beautiful. The climate is pleasant, it does not disappoint in terms of historical and cultural attractions, and it isn’t lacking in dazzling natural ones either. The first and best known is the Colca Canyon, and since it is located about three hours from the city, the traditional route is to get to Arequipa and hire a tour guide there. The main activity in this area is to see the flight of the condors, the largest non-marine bird in the world and the one that reaches greater heights. In the Andean world view, this species is of great importance and stars in hundreds of legends, myths and superstitions, so witnessing its flight is a wonderful mystical experience. During the walk, you can also visit indigenous communities and hot springs, and participate in extreme sports, such as canoeing and paragliding.
Another attraction, which can be seen from the streets of Arequipa, is the snowy Chachani, located one hour from the city. Although its height is above 6,000 meters, it is one of the easiest summits to conquer in the world, so it is ideal for rookie mountaineers. Of course, do not forget to bring a thermos of coca tea to make the climb less of an impediment.
5. Iquitos and its surroundings
The Peruvian Amazon occupies most of the territory of the country, and Iquitos is its most important city. So far, thousands of tourists arrive yearly looking for the wonders of the world’s most biodiverse forest, which also houses some of the few indigenous groups that remain hidden in the density of the forest. Those who enjoy ecotourism in this area are usually adventurous and curious, and can endure high and wet temperatures, pesky insects and exotic food. The reward is unparalleled, as there is nothing like navigating the Amazon while pink dolphins play in it, sharing the scene with different species of monkeys and colorful birds, or like falling asleep while listening to the most incredible sounds of nature.
On the ethnic theme, this area also has its charm, although it must be kept in mind that indigenous cultures are governed by their own beliefs, so any approach must be carried out with respect and openness. On the other hand, the city has important museums, cultural centers and entertainment sites, so if you start missing your urban life, it’s just a matter of going outside and starting to enjoy.