Here is our selection of the top 30 attractions in Peru. We provide links to great tours and some travel bloggers who have written about their experiences to give you their own opinions of each destination and what to see.
The Southern Amazon Rainforest
Peru’s southern Amazon Rainforest differs from the north mainly by the abundance of animal clay licks where different colorful parrots, tapir, monkeys, and capybara come to feed off the medicinal and salt rich clays.
The southern Peruvian Amazon Rainforest can be accessed from Puerto Maldonado to enjoy the Tambopata National Reserve or the rainforest surrounding Manu National Park. These are some of the Amazon’s richest areas for wildlife sightings and contain some of the largest macaw clay licks with around 250 colorful macaws seen at one time. A great lodge near a large macaw clay lick is the Tambopata Research Center.
Because of the abundant clay licks and oxbow lakes, the southern Amazon is also one of the best places for seeing some of the rarer icons of Amazonia. The abundant clay licks draw in herbivorous animals, such as tapir and different monkeys. Tapir are South America’s largest land mammal and you can see these at lodges such as Heath River Wildlife Center or the highly acclaimed Manu Wildlife Center. The herbivores that visit the licks then draw in predators, such as jaguar. This increases your chances of spotting one of the Amazon’s most sought after wildlife sightings.
The abundant oxbow lakes, which are areas where the river once flowed but has since changed direction then attract an abundance of wildlife, such as different monkeys, hoatzin birds, and the majestic giant river otters. Lodges such as Sandoval Lake Lodge and Posada Amazonas Lodge are great places to see these animals.
The Northern Amazon Rainforest
The northern Amazon Rainforest is where you find the Amazon River itself and is where you should visit to enjoy incredible Amazon River cruises. The river feeds the incredible Amazon Basin which covers 40% of the entire South American continent.
To access Peru’s northern Amazon Rainforest you will visit Iquitos, which is the largest city in the world unconnected to others by road. Enjoy exploring the highly diverse flooded forest of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve where you can see many fascinating animals and plants. Visiting the reserve is one of the top things to do in Iquitos and you can see several different monkeys, including howler monkeys, capuchins, squirrel monkeys, titi monkeys and sakis. In addition to monkeys, see pink river dolphins playing in the rivers, tamandua anteaters dangling from tree holes, macaw parrots flying overhead, caiman lizards resting on branches, and black caiman at the edge of the Amazon’s tributaries.
In addition to the comfortable vessels and luxury cruises heading into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, such as the Delfin I or Delfin II there are also some excellent lodges for a more adventurous experience. A fantastic area to explore for a lodge-based Amazon adventure is the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, which contains more non-flooded forest and one of the highest primate diversities of any protected area.
A great lodge for exploring this area is the Tahuayo Lodge and Amazon Research Center, which provides access to a 1000 acre primate research grid on stays of 6 or more days and the longest canopy zipline system in Amazonia.
The country’s most visited attraction, Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca structure and UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. Built by emperor Pachacuti who lived between 1438 and 1472, Machu Picchu was hidden from the Spanish conquistadors because of its sacred nature.
Abandoned less than 100 years after it was built due to the Spanish conquest,
Machu Picchu only reached international attention after the American historian Hiram Bingham located the Incan monument in 1911. Although locally known, since this time the area became a major tourist attraction and is now regarded as one of the New7Wonders of the World.
To visit Machu Picchu, you can head out for day trips aboard the Vistadome train, which departs from Poroy station (15 minutes from Cusco) arriving at Aguas Calientes just at the foot of the sacred site. You can also enjoy trekking to the area in the footsteps of the incas on the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, or on some of the other Inca Trail and Machu Picchu options.
A blogger who visited Machu Picchu is Justin from Aroundtheworldwithjustin.com.
The Cloud Forest
Peru’s cloud forest is defined as forest at such a high altitude that it’s penetrated by cloud cover. In Peru, a great place to experience this magical environment is on the side of the Andes near Manu National Park accessible from Cusco.
Home to one of the world’s highest diversities of life, Peru’s cloud forest contains a fascinating number of species, such as humming birds, capuchin monkeys, colorful butterflies, woolly monkeys, and orchids.
Some of the iconic animals that live here are the spectacled bear and Peru’s national bird, the cock of the rock. The cock of the rock is a bright red bird that attracts females by performing an intricate dance and displaying his red plumage.
To visit the forest, the Cock of the Rock Lodge is a great place to stay to enjoy seeing the birds display and to tour the clouds with your guide. Protecting a 5,060 hectare (12,500 acre) private cloud forest reserve and its wildlife, enjoy guided tours on the trails to see some fascinating animals and plants.
The trails lead through fantastic stands of bamboo, near mountain streams, and through the forest. You can also stay at the lodge longer to enjoy the more extensive trail network to really explore this fascinating area.
As another fantastic option, you can combine the cloud forest with the lower Amazon Rainforest on the Manu BioTrip Tour, which takes you from one environment to the other and is regarded as one of the most spectacular nature tours in South America.
The birthplace of the Incas, Cusco went on to serve as the political and administrative hub for the empire. This is one of Peru’s top cities and is located in the Peruvian Andes in the southern part of the country. Cusco provides access to the Sacred Valley and is the gateway to Machu Picchu and a fascinating array of other ruins. The city itself is definitely worth exploring and is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.
After the Spanish conquest, the conquistadors used Cusco as a major colonial city and instead of clearing the site completely to rebuild, the Spanish built their houses on the ruins themselves. This creates some fantastic sights when walking the streets as you can clearly see Inca structures of large stone bricks with the colonial buildings on top.
Cusco became central to the Spanish colonization of Peru and for the aggressive and often violent spread of Christianity throughout Andean South America. Many of the temples were replaced with churches and the palaces converted to intricate mansions. Because of the mix of both Spanish and ancient Peruvian history, you can see both Inca and colonial influence in architecture, cuisine, festivities, and traditions.
From Cusco, you can visit Machu Picchu, enjoy the Inca Trail, or alternative Inca Trail treks. You can also visit the Peruvian cloud forest or enjoy a trip from the Cloud Forest to the lowland Amazon Rainforest on the Bio Trip, which is regarded as one of the most fascinating of all Peru’s nature tours.
The Cradle of Gold
Thought to have been built to rival Machu Picchu, Choquequirao, the Cradle of Gold, was either commissioned by Túpac Inca Yupanqui, the son of emperor Pachacuti, or was built between both rulers. The site is similar in architecture to Machu Picchu but is one of Peru’s lesser known archeological treasures. From Cusco, you can enjoy a fantastic hike between Choquequirao and Machu Picchu.
Located in the Willkapampa mountain range, the top of the hill where the structure sits has been flattened to create a level base. The site is reached by a two day hike from Cusco and makes a fantastic alternative to the well trodden Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Famously, this was one of the last strongholds of the Incas against the Spanish. It is thought that Choquequirao was a political and administrative hub. The structure has areas and temples devoted to earth, water, the sun god, and other gods. In addition to these sacred sites, there are buildings for the elite, warehouses, houses for artisans and workers, and the farming areas and terraces.
Another of Peru’s famous attractions, the local Andean belief is that Titicaca was the birthplace of the sun. Titicaca is the highest large lake in the world with many animals and plants adapted to the high altitude environment. The lake also has the largest volume of water of any South American lake and sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
Around 500 species call the lake home and are adapted to Titicaca’s unusual conditions, such as the giant Titicaca water frog with its flaps of skin suited to absorb the region’s limited oxygen.
Culturally fascinating, Titicaca is home to some floating artificial islands made of reeds, which are home to the Uros community who live here. Used originally to help defend the lake from enemies, the islands can be visited from the town of Puno.
The locals around the lake still harvest crops by hand and usually wear a traditional dress, such as women working in petticoats and bowler hats and children in colorful Andean clothes. As this is the Andean environment, you can also see Peru’s iconic llamas walking behind their local owners.
A fortress-like structure built by the Chachapoyas in northern Peru, Kuelap’s size and detail make it the only other structure in Peru that can rival Machu Picchu. Kuelap overlooks the valley of Utcubamba and is a complex large structure. The ruins consist of a high walled city made of large stone and many different buildings.
Thought to have been built around the 6th Century AD it had been inhabited right up to the Spanish conquest. This is the most significant archaeological attraction in Peru’s north. The walls are around 20 meters high and the entire structure was mainly built with pink granite.
Kuelap is thought to have taken around 200 years to complete and was unknown to the conquistadors. Located between the Marañon and Utcubamba Rivers, the site reaches around 600 meters in length and 100 meters in width.
The Chachapoyas themselves are known as the cloud forest people and aside from being one of the most advanced civilizations in Peru’s tropical region, little else is known about them. Adding to the mysterious area, the environment is full of tropical vegetation with bromeliads and orchids hanging from the tall trees.
Peru’s capital city where the vast majority of tourists enter the country, Lima is a great destination for a few days before or after your Peruvian adventure. Here you can find some fantastic restaurants, malls, cafes, museums, and parks. You can also enjoy a short tour around Lima to see the ruins of Inca structures within the city itself.
Founded by the Spanish conquistadors, this is the largest city in Peru and is home to a variety of attractions to keep you occupied before or after you visit the rainforest or major archaeological sites. Known as the garden city, Lima has some fantastic city parks, such as Kennedy Park, Park of the Reserve with its light and water shows, and Lover’s Park.
As an introduction to the country, some of the museums in the city not to miss are the Larco Museum for its collection of pre-Columbian artifacts ranging across 3,000 years, including some preserved mummies of ancient cultures, and the Museum of the Central Reserve Bank for its range of gold artifacts and ceramics.
A great area to visit in Miraflores is Larcomar, which is an open air mall-like complex filled with brand name shops and delicious international and Peruvian cuisine. Surrounded by top hotels, the area provides a great place for ocean views and watching the odd paraglider.
Another of Peru’s most popular attractions and a famous hike worldwide, the Inca trail was part of the most extensive and advanced transportation system in pre-Columbian South America. Used by the Inca to get around the empire and for religious and cultural purposes, you can follow the footsteps of ancient people as you head out on fantastic hikes.
Starting near the Urubamba River about 80 km from Cusco, hike past incredible scenery of the Andean mountain range, such as the mountain pass of Warmiwañusqa. In addition to the incredible views, cross fascinating environments like the cloud forest with luscious vegetation of bromeliads and orchids.
The most popular trek is the Classic Inca Trail, but you also have the Short Inca Trail, Luxury Inca Trail and some other Inca Trail options to choose from. The route is then dotted with many fascinating Inca structures and ruins as you journey onward to the Sun Gate for fantastic views of Machu Picchu itself. Pass by settlements, tunnels, and different vegetation as you ascend the mountain range, sometimes getting up to 4,200 meters (13,800 ft) above sea level.
Offering a few different Inca Trail options, only 500 people are allowed on the trail each day and as this is such a popular activity, advanced bookings are essential. You will then be issued a permit to walk the trail. It is also helpful to note that every February the trail is closed for cleaning.
An impressive site to witness, Colca Canyon is the world’s second deepest canyon with a diversity of changing environments for its entire 100km length. The condors gliding high in the valley add to the attraction.
Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the area is not just fantastic to see impressive scenery and condors, but there are Inca ruins dotted throughout. The canyon itself cuts through the Andean volcanic rock and was formed by the Rio Colca to create this incredible landscape.
Apart from the condors, other wildlife you’re likely to see are the small chinchilla relatives called viscachas bouncing between the rocks. You will also see cacti on the slopes and you may even see the birds that drink their nectar.
The local people still wear traditional dress and hats, which differ between groups to show their ancestry. There are many trails that weave their way through the valley and because of the lack of development most things are as they were at the time of the Spanish conquest.
A site of the Moche civilization, Sipán dates from 50-700 AD and contains different royal tombs and remains with the most famous being the Lord of Sipán. Discovered relatively recently, the site is considered a very important archaeological discovery revealing new information about Moche culture.
Accessed from Chiclayo, the tombs have shown some interesting information about Moche human sacrifice. The sacrificial ceremonies of Sipán rulers, which are depicted on pottery were uncovered at Sipán and their practice matches the images. The rulers took part in the ceremonies and were shown with large knives and tools for decapitation and bloodletting.
The Moche themselves came before the Inca by around 1000 years and lived in the north of Peru. The capital region, if there ever was one, was the Moche river valley on the Peruvian arid coast. The valleys of northern Peru are known to contain dozens of Moche pyramids and structures.
One of the most important archaeological finds in the last 50 years, the Lord of Sipán was a Mochican warrior priest buried with an array of treasures, sacrificed guards, and animals. His tomb is a 5 by 5 meter chamber with the central wooden sarcophagus. After being adorned with the finest gold and decor, this is then surrounded with items thought important in the afterlife.
A travel blogger who visited Sipán is Emily from Emilyluxton.co.uk.
Huacachina Sand Dunes
Surrounded by the world’s largest sand dunes, Huacachina is an idyllic oasis town in southern Peru. Providing great views of the sandy desert with its undulating scenery, the palm fringed lagoon is accompanied by great hotels, restaurants and cafes.
About 4 km from Ica, the area is a magnet for tourists to enjoy sand-boarding and buggy rides across the mountain-like dunes. It’s also a great place for a simple romantic stop over near the oasis. Not just popular with international tourists, for a long time this has been the local vacation spot for families from Ica.
Riding the sand buggies is an adrenaline fueled activity where you ascend the giant dunes and accelerate down the sands. The feeling is like being on a roller coaster as you zoom about the golden environment.
For sand boarding, head out to the top of a dune and either slide down on your belly or you can stand if you’re an experienced boarder. Both of these activities make an excellent adrenaline packed combo for experiencing the dunes before heading back to the Huacachina oasis for a quiet drink or to enjoy fantastic nightlife.
The second favorite tourist city in Peru after Cusco, Arequipa sits in the country’s south and is surrounded by three scenic volcanoes. This is also Peru’s second largest city after Lima. Following the Spanish colonisation, the city was also used as the country’s capital between 1835 to 1883.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Arequipa contains some historical attractions, fantastic scenery, and interesting cultural sites. With its beautiful and unique architecture backed by volcanoes, the scenery alone is one reason for a visit.
Two of the most famous sites to visit in this beautiful city are the Plaza de Armas and Convento de Santa Catalina. Although there are no Incan remains or treasures near the city, the colonial buildings, a combination of styles, and the museums will satisfy cultural interests. The city is also known as the ‘White City’ as many buildings here are built with a white stone called sillar.
With a number of great places to eat, Arequipa was responsible for creating many of Peru’s delicacies to help form the country’s proud gastronomy. You’re sure you enjoy some fantastic flavors in various restaurants.
The Cordillera Blanca
The most famous part of the Andes for mountain climbers, the range is located in the north of the country and is accessed from the city of Huaraz. The most famous mountain here is Huáscarán (6,768 m), which is the highest mountain in Peru. In addition to the scenic mountains, the range contains beautiful lakes and is surrounded by various hot pools.
One of the world’s highest ranges and the largest range in the tropics, the Cordillera Blanca stretches for around 200 km and separates the coastal region from the steamy Amazon Rainforest. The deep ravines and snowy peaks create fantastic scenery dotted with Andean condors flying high in the mountains. Other animals you can find here are the spectacled bears iconic to Peru’s mountainsides and lush vegetation.
The range is mostly contained in the Huascaran National Park. Because this is home to a lot of wildlife, UNESCO declared the area a Biosphere Reserve in 1977. In addition to wildlife, the range is dotted with pre-Incan and Incan ruins.
Some travel bloggers who visited the Cordillera Blanca are Heather and Scott from Heatherandscottsadventures.com.au and Kevin from Kevinschaum.com.
Monastery of San Francisco
To single out just one colonial building from the fantastic cities, the Monastery of San Francisco is located in Lima’s historic old center and was built in 1774.
This is one of the best preserved colonial churches in Peru and was built to honor the Catholic Saint Francisco. The church contains a library filled with religious texts in the connected monastery, but a main interest of the church is below the building itself.
Below the Monastery of San Francisco are the catacombs, which you can visit on tours of the church. Estimates show around 75,000 bodies are buried under the monastery with many of the remains exposed above ground.
In addition to the catacombs, tour the church and monastery to see some fantastic artwork, architecture, and the beautiful wooden stairs. Learn about the religious history and see some subtle ways Christianity was spread throughout Peru, such as with a painting of the local Peruvian dish of guinea pig ‘cuy’ served for the famous Last Supper before Jesus.
Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and is found near the colonial city of Trujillo in Peru’s north. Positioned in the Moche Valley, this was the capital of the Chimor Empire from AD 900 – 1470, which was defeated at the hands of the Incan Empire by Topa Inca Yupanqui. Chimor was the last American civilization that had any hope of challenging the Incas.
The Chimor Empire was part of the Chimú culture, which was a descendant culture of the Moche. The name Chan Chan means ‘Sun Sun’ in Chimu and described the sunny weather of the northern Peruvian coast.
Containing a number of large buildings, Chan Chan was a city thought to have housed around 50,000 people and with ten thousand structures, this remains the largest adobe city on earth. The gold of the Chimú was famous and became known to the Spanish who looted the city after their conquest. Chan Chan was however already falling into ruin.
Enjoy touring various palaces and streets to marvel at this one great city adorned with various artwork. Chan Chan is the largest and most significant ruin of the Chimú culture.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
An alternative trek to the busy Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu leads you through some incredible mountain scenery of the Andes, from snow capped mountains, through Andean farms, passed Inca ruins, to the train to Machu Picchu for you to explore at your leisure.
On this fantastic trek, enjoy climbing the ranges and descending into valleys, to experience a fresh temperature then warm valleys below as you spot different Inca structures and stonework along the way. Experience a range of environments, such as open grasslands, rocky mountains, passed winding rivers, and up into the cloud forest. Walk at the foot of massive snow covered mountains, near glaciers, and visit traditional Andean villages.
You will trek on traditional Inca routes and visit areas to provide spectacular views. On the final leg, descend through the ruins of Llactapata presented to the west by Hiram Bingham. You will later see the first glimpse of Machu Picchu off in the distance and the last campsite features views of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba river, and the snow-capped peaks of Salkantay and Wakay Willka. Take a local train to Aguas Calientes and spend the next day exploring Machu Picchu itself the investigate the many fascinating details.
The Brujo Archaeological Complex
Located near the city of Trujillo, El Brujo, or ‘the wizard,’ is a name of a spiritual site visited by different shamans and mystical healers.
This was one of the significant religious sites of the Moche Culture, which came to an end over 1,300 years ago. The area includes a large pyramid known as Cao Viejo containing Moche artwork and different murals. Positioned in the lower Chicama Valley, one of the most fascinating discoveries of the pyramid was in 2006 when a female mummy from the Moche period was found and named the Lady of Cao.
You can visit the burial chamber and tour the museum to see the mummy itself. There are also different valuable artifacts buried with her, which are also on display. Alongside the mummy were the remains of a second teenage woman thought to have been a human sacrifice.
As well as the mummy, the main draw to the site for visitors are the carved murals that depict a range of images, such as mythical creatures, animals, and people to learn more about this pre-incan civilization.
Some travel bloggers who visited El Brujo are Laine and Miro from Raisingmiro.com.
Ollantaytambo sits in the Sacred Valley near Cusco city and is both a Peruvian town and Inca site. A favorite tourist attraction, the fantastic site is also a common starting point for the Inca Trail mentioned above, but you can also visit the site on a half day trip.
The town itself was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti and was also used to house noble members of the Inca Empire. Later, this was a main point of defense for Manco Inca Yupanqui against the Spanish.
When the Manco Inca Yupanqui was fighting against the conquistadors near Ollantaytambo, he managed to defeat a Spanish expedition using the advantage of the high terraces and flooding of the plain, which was possible due to the Inca’s astounding knowledge of irrigation. The Inca rained an unstoppable barrage of arrows, spears and boulders from the terraces onto Pizarro and his men.
The Spanish soldiers and horses were already struggling in a flooded plain and Pizzaro ordered the retreat. This was one of the few times the Spanish even lost a battle against the Inca and the site makes for a historically fascinating area to visit.
The town itself is positioned near the Patakancha River and there are many different Inca structures in the area. The site functioned as housing, a fortress, and a place of worship.
One of the most visually fascinating and thought provoking Incan structures, Moray is located near Cusco and consists of circular and curved terraces, which are 30 m (100 ft) deep in some places. The largest are towards the middle as the whole fantastic structure looks like a large amphitheater.
Adding to the astounding architecture of the terraces, their construction and angle creates a difference in temperature of 15 °C (27 °F) between the top and the bottom in some areas. The temperature range matches the farmland available to the Inca, from the coastal farms to the Andean terraces. We also know that earth from different regions of the entire empire was imported and used to line each of the terraces.
Potentially, the area served as a type of laboratory to uncover the best conditions to grow various crops. For example, thousands of different potatoes and other tubers are known in the Andes as well as hundreds of different maize varieties. Although not as popular as other Inca sites, Moray provides a look at an important part of Inca culture and how they utilised their ingenuity to optimize crop yield.
You can walk from the top rung to the bottom and feel the change in temperature then marvel at the sheer size of this fantastic structure. While here, think back to what it might have looked like in Inca times and the organization that surrounded it.
Sacsayhuaman is located very close to Cusco and was a citadel of the Inca Empire who took the original structure from the Killke culture, which was expanded and fortified. The area was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List at the same time as Cusco in 1983.
The structure is located on a hill overlooking Cusco and is a heavily fortified building with fantastic views of the city and valley. Containing around 200 different archaeological structures, the area of Sacsayhuaman covers just over 3,000 hectares.
Regarded as one of the must see Inca attractions of Peru along with Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, Sacsayhuaman was of high importance to the Inca as this is what guarded their capital city of Cusco. Cusco was the hub of the empire and was protected by the watchful eye from Sacsayhuaman high on the hill. Sacsayhuaman is also a famous site for celebrations of the Inti Raymi, which is a traditional Inca and Andean ceremony held in honor to the Inti or Sun god every 24th of June.
Taking decades to build and complete, it is thought the huge stone work required the work of 20,000 men. Some of the stones lining the walls weigh 100 tons each. This made construction of this incredible structure deeply mysterious to the Spanish who didn’t see the Inca capable of such engineering feats.
A travel blogger who visited Sacsayhuaman is Miriam from Adventurousmiriam.com.
Paracas National Reserve
Best visited from Ica in southern Peru, Paracas National Reserve protects 335,000 ha of ocean, a portion of tropical desert, and miles of coastline. This was the first marine reserve in Peru and was founded to protect the marine environment and sites of the Paracas culture, which is one of the most mysterious of the Americas.
On the reserve boundary is the must visit museum called the Muséo Sitio de Julio C. Tello, which contains information on the area and artifacts from the Paracas culture. The reserve then protects wildlife, including many different birds living along the coast.
One of the areas of archaeological importance is the Paracas Necropolis, which was the burial site for important members of the Paracas culture. The Paracas lived from 100 BC to 300 AD. Not only protecting sites of the Paracas, this is also the region where archaeologists discovered evidence of human occupation from 6500 BC.
The Nazca Lines
One of the most famous of Peru’s archaeological wonders, the Nazca Lines are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and located south of Lima between the towns of Palpa and Nazca.
The pictures range from simple lines, to complex shapes resembling a number of animals, such as monkeys, fish, lizards, spiders, and birds. The depictions number around 70 different animal patterns with around 900 geoglyphs in total. The non-animal forms are various shapes, including lines, spirals, circles, triangles, and others.
The Nazca were a culture in Peru who lived around 2000 years ago and are thought to have designed these fascinating geoglyphs. The designs were made by creating lines by removing the top layer of pebbles which revealed the white ground beneath.
There are daily flights over the lines where you can see the figures. Although the real reason why the lines exist is a mystery, the intention of the Nazca may have been to communicate with the gods, for some other religious reason, or even for some cosmological function to study the stars.
Located near Santo Tomás, Revash is a burial site of the Chachapoyas tucked into the limestone cliffs of the Peruvian mountains. Archaeologists discovered 12 human remains in the tombs with a variety of artifacts left for the dead. These tombs are located in the Amazonas region of northern Peru and are one of only a handful of sites we have for a civilization living in Peru’s tropics.
When you first look at the structures, you would be forgiven for thinking the buildings make up a kind of cliff-side village due to their meticulous and patterned construction. Decorated from the outside with red and yellow paints and built with stones in a muddy clay, the towers look more like accommodation than tombs. The walls are also painted with different shapes, people, and animals of the region, such as cats and camelids.
Lake of the Condors
Another site of the mysterious Chachapoyas, the Lake of the Condors is a sacred area near Kuelap. The site was chosen to bury the important figures of the culture and the lake is surrounded by tombs. There are six tomb areas in total, which are decorated with cave paintings and colored walls.
Unfortunately, expeditions have revealed that many of the tombs have been ransacked by tomb raiders who stole the remains and treasures buried within. Fortunately, some of their contents have been preserved in museum collections. The expedition, however, did reveal that some of the harder to reach cliff tombs, a common tradition among the Chachapoyas, have retained some of their contents.
About 100 meters above the lake, built into the limestone cliff face, the tombs measure about 3 meters high and consist of two levels with windows overlooking the lake. Abandoned for around 500 years, you can reach the site on three day tours from Leymebamba due to the isolated location.
Mancora is where you find some of Peru’s best beaches. This is where tourists to Peru enjoy great resorts, sunshine, great nightlife, and fantastic seafood. The water here is usually warm and the waves consistently good drawing in surfers and tourists traveling their way through Peru.
The seaside town draws a crowd year round and is located in north western Peru in the Máncora District. The surfer’s paradise of Peru, the rolling waves are also a great spot for beginners.
You can reach Mancora from either the airport in Tumbes or Piura where you will need to look into road transport, which can often be arranged by the hotels in Mancora town.
Mancora offers the most attraction for tourists, with its many cafes, restaurants, hotels, and nightlife but there are also some other areas both north and south of the town. An area enjoyed by visitors looking for a more relaxing beach vacation is the town of Vichayito just south of Mancora, which is still close enough to this tourist hub to enjoy the restaurants or lively nature when you’re in the mood.
Peru’s answer to the Galapagos, the Ballestas Islands can be viewed up close on a number of different cruises. Only researchers with permits can set foot on the islands themselves, but from the cruises you will see seals, sea lions, and a diversity of seabirds, such as blue footed boobies and Humboldt penguins.
The most well known nature destination on Peru’s coast, to visit the islands you travel from the town of Paracas. The cruise to the islands only takes around two hours and on the way, you may even spot the dolphins and pelicans. You will then be greeted by the noises from the seal and sea lion colonies.
One of the mysteries enroute is the giant geoglyph known as El Candelabro, which may have served as a sign for boats along the coast. Shaped in the form of a Candelabra, the image is so large it can be seen 10 miles out at sea.
Pisac is a small traditional Andean village in the Sacred Valley of southern Peru. The village hosts a fantastic Andean market every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, which many tourists in the known come to see.
The village is home to the Inca Písac, which are a series of Inca ruins, including temples, agricultural areas, and a fortress to defend this part of the Sacred Valley. Positioned near the Urubamba River, the village has grown to cover a large area of the valley and now crosses over the river itself.
Positioned high above the valley, the fortress watches over the land below with fantastic terracing reaching down the slopes. Surrounding the site are other Inca ruins including many that remain undiscovered.
The market is a great place to buy Andean souvenirs, but some will be very similar to what’s offered in Cusco itself. Browse the many handmade items, alpaca wool clothing, traditional Andean dress, pottery, and jewellery.
The oldest known civilization in the Americas, Caral can be found in the Barranca province just north of Lima. Caral is one of the largest sites found of the Norte Chico civilization and thrived from around 3000 to 1800 BC. This particular site was thought to house around 3,000 people with 20,000 in total living at sites of the Supe Valley.
This is a 5,000 year old site making Norte Chico one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The area now is a dry desert but overlooks the Supe River and the green valley. Featuring six pyramids, Caral contains a lot of archaeological complexity including circular courts, massive stone mounts, and accommodation for the elite.
The reason why the area was abandoned is not known but something drastic must have happened to the Norte Chico. Given the arid landscape, this could have been lack of water and the civilization growing beyond what the environment could support.
You can visit Caral for guided tours around the site. The civilization existed about 4000 years before the Inca and because this is the oldest site found in the Americas, its historical significance rivals that of Machu Picchu.
A travel blogger who visited Caral is Michael from Timetravelturtle.com.