Peru is a fantastic place to visit for a mix of wildlife, culture, and history. There are many things to do in Peru and the most famous attraction is the Incan monument of Machu Picchu, which should be on everyone’s list. There is much more to the country, however. Peru contains the second largest portion of Amazon Rainforest, which you can visit on some of the best tours in Amazonia.
As a nature highlight, Peru is home to the most Amazonian clay licks where many different animals come to feed from salt-rich and medicinal clays to create great areas for wildlife viewing.
As for history, the Inca who dominated Peru were the largest empire in the Americas before European colonization and there are many different archaeological remains, including remnants of pre-Incan civilizations.
We will provide some recommended tours and link to some travel bloggers to give you their own opinions of each experience.
Here is our detailed list of the top 100 things to do in Peru:
Enjoy the Vistadome Train to Machu Picchu
Enjoy a fantastic rail trip to Machu Picchu by crossing beautiful countryside with stunning scenery. We recommend the Vistadome class on the PeruRail train, as the cabins are fitted with panoramic windows and skylights to keep you connected to the environment.
Starting from Poroy station just a little distance from Cusco, enjoy a fantastic journey with some tasty snacks and beautiful scenery before your arrival in Aguas Calientes. When in Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu, it’s then just a short bus trip to see the ruins themselves.
For the best experience, you cane enjoy the Vistodome or Hiram Bingham train on luxury Machu Picchu pakage tours.
Experience a luxury cruise in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
Luxury cruises are the best way to experience the Amazon Rainforest and River in comfort. The best of these take you on rainforest expeditions, such as aboard motorized skiffs, rainforest walks, and kayaking adventures away from the main vessel. This means you will find some incredible rainforest life, such as different monkeys, colorful birds, and fascinating reptiles. After your excursions, head back to the main vessel to relax in your extravagant suite before enjoying some delicious cuisine. Some of the recommended luxury cruises head into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which is one of Peru’s largest protected areas. Recommended cruises include the award-winning Delfin I & Delfin II, the elegantly styled Aria Amazon Cruise, and the more affordable luxury alternative, the The Delfin III Cruise. All of these depart from Peru’s gateway to the Amazon River & Rainforest, the port city of Iquitos.
Try a Canopy Zipline in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve
You can try the largest canopy zipline system in the Amazon Rainforest on stays at the Tahuayo Lodge in northern Peru. Enjoy ziplining between different large emergent trees, which have a canopy platform built around each one. The zipline has been enjoyed by grandparents, right through to their grandchildren and makes for a fun activity to enjoy in the jungle. The platforms in between make excellent places to scout the top of the rainforest for different birds, such as parrots, tanagers, and toucans. Getting to the zipline itself is an interesting walk from the main lodge where you’re likely to spot squirrel monkeys and pygmy marmosets enroute. Because the Tahuayo Lodge has a lot of things to see and do, including another lodge deeper in the Amazon, the recommended time to spend at the lodge is 8 days or more, but you can visit on a 4 day tour to focus on the zipline and main Tahuayo Lodge.
Visit macaw clay licks from Puerto Maldonado
One of the best sights in the Amazon Rainforest, macaw clay licks in the Tambopata and Manu areas of Amazonia attract hundreds of large and colorful macaws. Different macaws species visit the licks to obtain different salts and to neutralize toxins found in the macaw’s diet. The clay licks present guests with a spectacular display of sound and color and the vast majority of these areas are located in southern Peru. Fantastic lodges near large clay licks include the Tambopata Research Center in the middle of the wildlife-rich Tambopata National Reserve, the Heath River Wildlife Center between the Tambopata reserve and Madidi National Park, and the Manu Wildlife Center for the rainforest surrounding Manu National Park.
See wild Giant River Otters
A much-loved wildlife sighting, giant river otters can be seen in various oxbow lakes in Amazonia. You can individually identify these highly social animals by their white throat pouch and watch them live together as a group. The otters communicate using a variety of high-pitched screeches and live, hunt and play together. There are a few different places to enjoy seeing wild giant otters with some of the best lodges located close to the town of Puerto Maldonado in southern Peru.
A recommendation is to visit the Sandoval Lake with its resident family of giant river otters from Sandoval Lake Lodge. Another great lodge to see giant otters is the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge. If you would like a deep rainforest tour to see otters, a great option is the Manu Adventurer tour.
The Sandoval Lake LodgePuerto Maldonado, Peru
Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.
Visit the Peruvian Cloud Forest
The Peruvian cloud forest is one of the lesser visited natural wonders of the country. This is forest on South America’s Andean spine at such a high altitude that it’s penetrated by cloud cover. The cloud forest in Peru is best explored near the incredible Manu National Park, which you can reach from Cusco. Enjoy visits to the Cock of the Rock Lodge, which is nestled in its own private cloud forest reserve to find woolly monkeys, capuchins, humming birds, spectacled bears, the bright red dancing cock of the rock birds, and a lot more fantastic bird life.
Tour the incredible city of Cusco
Cusco is one of Peru’s most visited tourist cities and when walking the historic streets it’s easy to see why. This is where the Inca Civilization began, which would later dominate Peru and extend into Chile and Ecuador. When the Spanish invaded in the 1500s and conquered the city, they would build their traditional Spanish colonial buildings on the ruins of the Incan structures. This makes for some of the most fascinating historical city walks worldwide as you can still see the dramatic transitions from the large Incan stones to the delicate Spanish architecture. Surrounded by some of the main archaeological attractions in Peru, the entire city of Cusco is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hike the Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is South America’s classic hike, which follows in the footsteps of the Inca from Cusco to their incredible monument of Machu Picchu. This was part of the largest transportation system in pre-Columbian South America. The route actually starts about 80 km from Cusco near the Urubamba River. As you walk the trail, you will see some beautiful scenery and mountain passes. Enjoy passing through areas with abundant fresh vegetation and into the cloud forest with abundant bromeliads and orchids. There are a few different varieties and experiences of the Inca Trail you can choose from, including the Classic Inca Trail, which is the most famous option, the Short Inca Trail for an experience of the trek without the camping and days of hiking, and the Luxury Inca Trail to enjoy massages and more exclusivity.
Visit the Cradle of Gold
The Cradle of Gold, or Choquequirao, is a lesser known Incan structure than Machu Picchu but was thought to have been built to rival the famous sacred site. Commissioned by the son of emperor Pachacuti or built between both rulers, the site is of similar design to Machu Picchu and can be reached on a hike from Cusco in the Willkapampa mountain range. Choquequirao contains temples and spiritual areas dedicated to different gods, earth, and water. To get a more unique experience, you can even enjoy a fantastic multi-day hike between the Cradle of Gold and Machu Picchu to contrast and compare the structures. If you simply want to see the Cradle of Gold and avoid the well-trodden path to Machu Picchu, you can visit Choquequirao on a two-day hike from Cusco. This is a historically important structure for Peru as the region was the location of the last Incan stronghold against the Spanish.
Watch wild Tapir in the Amazon Rainforest
Tapir are the largest land-mammal in South America and roam the forests of the Amazon Rainforest. The tapir frequently visit clay licks to obtain necessary salts not found in the tapir’s diet. A few lodges in Peru are near tapir clay licks where observation towers provide opportunities to wait and watch these fascinating animals. Two of the best lodges to see tapir are the Manu Wildlife Center and the Heath River Wildlife Center, which are both accessed from the gateway town of Puerto Maldonado. The Heath River Wildlife Center provides tours to see tapir at the clay lick, access to a macaw clay lick from a floating hide, and tours of the rainforest. From Manu Wildlife Center, enjoy waiting to see tapir, tours of the rainforest to see different monkeys and colorful birds, visits to a large macaw clay lick, and tours of an oxbow lake, which is home to a family of giant otters.
The Heath River Wildlife CenterPuerto Maldonado, Peru
Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.
Take a cruise on Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest large lake and is near the town of Puno in southern Peru. The locals around the lake still wear a traditional Andean dress with petticoats and bowler hats. Important in Peruvian culture, the local belief shared with the Inca is that Titicaca was the birthplace of the sun. There are 500 different animals and plants found on and around Titicaca, which are adapted to the high altitude and low oxygen environment. Enjoy cruises to explore Titicaca’s different islands and wildlife. The most famous community are the Uros who live on islands made from floating reeds and still live in a traditional manner.
A travel blogger who enjoyed Titicaca is Tracey from 100waystochangetheworld.com.
Visit the fortress of Kuelap
The fortress of Kuelap is the only other structure in Peru that can rival Machu Picchu and the Cradle of Gold. Built by the mysterious Chachapoyas, Kuelap sits in northern Peru and is a complex of large buildings and structures. The high wall surrounding the city is around 20 meters high built with pink granite. Kuelap was thought to have been built in the 6th Century AD and has a view of the Utcubamba Valley. Despite being a major structure, Kuelap wasn’t known to the conquistadors and little is known about the Chachapoyas themselves. The Chachapoyas were known as the cloud forest people and the surroundings are full of fascinating vegetation of bromeliads, ferns, and orchids adding to the experience.
Go shopping in Lima’s Larcomar
One of Peru’s most popular shopping areas, Larcomar is located on the seafront in Miraflores, Lima. The center is a multi-level shopping complex with fantastic ocean views and the entire thing is built into the cliffside. There are some fantastic restaurants dotted throughout with international favorites and some of the top Peruvian establishments. As well as the diversity of shops and high-end stores selling jewelry, clothing, electronics, and luggage, there are also entertainment areas for bowling and a cinema.
Enjoy some snacks in Lima’s Kennedy Park
The main park in Lima’s Miraflores district and the most popular park with visitors because of its location, you can enjoy Kennedy Park to buy some delicious snacks from the evening’s different venders. Choose from different traditional Peruvian sweet snacks or sandwiches while looking at the park’s different flowers and trees. Around 20 or so years ago, the first stray cats appeared in the park. With a group of friendly locals who offer food and veterinary care, the cats have now become synonymous with this particular park. In addition to the flowers, trees, and food stands, on a weekend you can see local artists selling their work and many different high quality paintings are available. The park is split into two parts and sitting between the areas is the beautiful Virgen Milagrosa Church.
Some travel bloggers who visited Kennedy Park are Kirsty & Peter from Kirstyandpeter.com.
Hike Colca Canyon
The world’s second deepest canyon and a very beautiful area, Colca Canyon offers some beautiful scenery where you can see condors gliding in the sky. The Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and reaches 100 km across southern Peru. In addition to the beautiful scenery, surrounding Colca Canyon are many different Inca ruins. You can enjoy spotting different wildlife as well as the magnificent condors, such as small chinchilla relatives called viscachas hopping between the rocks and different cacti. This is also a great cultural experience as the locals still wear traditional dress, such as hats and colorful fabrics. Choose different trails that weave their way through the valley and the landscape is the same as it would have been during the Spanish conquest.
Sipán is an archaeological site of the Moche culture and contains different royal tombs and remains from around 50-700 AD, which is around 1000 years before the Incas would dominate Peru. The most well known and popular site here is the Lord of Sipán, which is a tomb of a Moche warrior priest. You can reach the site from the city of Chiclayo to learn more about this fascinating pre-Incan culture. The site has revealed some fascinating information about the Moche, such as human sacrifice and how they buried their dead. The findings matched what was depicted on Moche pots, including the long knives used for decapitation and blood letting.
A travel blogger who visited Sipán is Emily from Emilyluxton.co.uk.
Enjoy dune buggies in Huacachina
Huacachina offers a different type of Peruvian attraction to nature and archaeology. Enjoy a beautiful oasis town surrounded by golden sand dunes and home to some nice restaurants and hotels. The sand dunes surrounding this small oasis town are the world’s largest and as well as looking out on the beautiful scenery from your hotel window, there is another option available to you, dune buggying. Enjoy being driven to the top of the highest dunes and zooming down the sands for some fantastic thrill rides. The experience is like being on a roller coaster as you drive up and down the giant sand hills.
Try some of Peru’s finest cuisine in Lima
Peru’s cuisine is regarded as one of the best worldwide and there are a number of delicious dishes to try. We recommend the traditional favorites but also the diverse array of fusion dishes available and especially the Japanese-Peruvian plates. For visitors with a curiosity for local flavors but wanting some dishes to start with that have some familiarity with western palates, we recommend lomo saltado (a dish made with sliced steak, onions, and coriander served with rice), tallarines verdes (a pasta dish with spaghetti coated with a basil sauce and topped with steak), and estofado de pollo (a delicious chicken stew). However, with so many great dishes to try, you may prefer to simply dive right in and ask the restaurant’s recommendations. Ceviche made from raw fish drizzled with lemon juice is one of the more iconic foods. We will mention a little more about a few Peruvian dishes and drinks throughout the article. To try the cuisine, some of the finest restaurants to visit in Lima include Maras Restaurante, Central, Astrid y Gastón, Rafael Restaurant, Tanta, Restaurante Rodrigo, La Mar, El Mercado, and Maido Restaurante.
Enjoy hikes in the Cordillera Blanca
The Cordillera Blanca is a beautiful section of the Andes and one of the most famous. You can reach the area from the city of Huaraz. You can find some beautiful attractions nearby, such as hot pools and beautiful lakes. The scenery is fantastic and the Cordillera Blanca represents one of the largest ranges in the tropical zone, with white snowy peaks and deep ravines. You can then spot the magnificent Andean condors flying high up in the sky. You can enjoy different multi-day hikes in the mountain range to admire the beautiful landscape or day-walks to various lakes and villages.
Some travel bloggers who enjoyed the Cordillera Blanca are Mary from Sparklytrainers.com and Heather & Scott from Heatherandscottsadventures.blogspot.com.au.
Visit the Catacombs at the Monastery of San Francisco
Many visitors to Lima mention the Monastery of San Francisco as one of their favorite city attractions. The monastery sits in Lima’s UNESCO listed historic centre and was built in 1774. You can take a tour of the church and monastery to hear about the fascinating history, see some beautiful architecture, and to see the library which houses many important historical and religious texts. But the main interest here for many visitors is what’s underneath the monastery. On the tours, you will venture below the building and into the mysterious catacombs where around 75,000 bodies are buried under the monastery. Most of the remains are above ground and you can walk through the tunnels to see how they’re kept and to learn about the interesting history.
Watch Pink Dolphins in the Amazon
Possibly the most loved wildlife sighting of the Amazon River and its tributaries, pink dolphins are surrounded by mystery and folklore. They are often curious enough to swim up to us as we explore their home. Enjoy watching them swim around the boat as they move gracefully through the water. The dolphins feed on a range of fish, but also molluscs and can even take river turtles. They use their flexible neck to search under logs and stones on the river floor. Not a lot is known about the dolphins, including much-needed information on populations, so we don’t even know how many there are. Great places to see the dolphins are on Amazon River tours from Iquitos in northern Peru, such as aboard the luxury-class Delfin II or the adventurous and wildlife-rich Tahuayo Lodge.
Try jungle mountain biking
In the jungle of Tambopata in southern Peru, you can enjoy zooming around the Amazon Rainforest on mountain bikes in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve. You can reach Tambopata from the rainforest gateway town of Puerto Maldonado, which is just a short 20 minute flight from Cusco and is home to the most developed tourism industry in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest. You can enjoy jungle mountain biking on tours from the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge, the Refugio Amazonas Lodge, or the deep rainforest Tambopata Research Center.
See the Lake of the Condors
The Lake of the Condors is a Chachapoyan sacred site near the fantastic area of Kuelap in northern Peru. Around the beautiful lake are sites where the important members of the Chachapoyas culture were buried and there are six of these tombs in total. The chambers are decorated with paintings and colors and the site looks more like a small village than burial ground. The chambers are around 100 meters above the lake and were built into the cliffs. To visit the area, you can enjoy a three-day tour in the district of Leymebamba.
Enjoy combinations tours in Peru
There are a variety of combination tours you can enjoy in Peru to see a variety of the country’s attractions. For some more suggestions tailored to your interests, you can send us a message to get more info. Some examples include combining the Short Inca Traill with a visit to the Amazon Rainforest from the fantastistic Sandoval Lake Lodge, visiting the Peruvian cloud forest and the lowland Amazon Rainforest at the Manu Wildlife Center, or combining rainforest lodges together to maximize your experience.
The Heath River & Sandoval TourPuerto Maldonado, Peru
Currently, TourTheTropics.com cannot help you book this experience. However, you can visit the tour operator's website for more information.
Walk around Chan Chan
From the Chimu culture, which is a descendent culture of the Moche, Chan Chan is located in a sunny area of Peru’s north near the colonial city of Trujillo. Found in the Moche Valley, Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimor Empire, which existed from AD 900 – 1470. This was one of the empires that was defeated by the Incas and one of the only civilizations that had any hope of challenging the Incan conquest. Chan Chan is the world’s largest adobe city and makes for some fascinating exploration. You can walk the streets to admire different artworks, the interesting architecture, and to imagine the city when it housed around 50,000 people.
Enjoy the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu offers an alternative route to the magnificent ruins. You will pass some incredible scenery to see snow capped mountains, Incan ruins, and end with a fantastic train ride to Machu Picchu. You will traverse different Andean ranges and valleys and experience a range of environments, such as rocky mountains, winding rivers, open grasslands, and the spectacular cloud forest. We will also visit some Andean villages for a glimpse into Andean culture. Nearing the end of the trek, you will see Machu Picchu off in the distance, as well as the peaks of Salkantay and Wakay Willka after visiting the ruins of Llactapata. We will then board a local train to Aguas Calientes for visiting and exploring the Incan structure itself.
Some travel bloggers who enjoyed the Salkantay Trek are Amy & Adam from Thriftydrifter.com.
Find colorful poison dart frogs in Tahuayo Reserve
The favorite frogs for many people, you can find poison dart frogs throughout the rainforest but they can be difficult to find despite their vivid colorations. To see some of these fantastic bright and colorful frogs, a good choice in the Amazon Rainforest is to visit the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve in northern Peru. On stays at the Tahuayo Lodge, which offers almost exclusive access to the reserve, you can tour Frog Belly. With your personal guide, enjoy finding a few different varieties of colorful poison dart frogs.
Visit the Brujo Archaeological Complex
The Brujo Archaeological Complex can be visited from the city of Trujillo. A significant religious site for the Moche culture, you can see a large pyramid known as Cao Viejo containing Moche artwork and different murals. It’s these murals that are the main draw for many people. You can see different animals, people, and mythical creatures to learn more about this mysterious pre-Incan culture, which came to an end around 1,300 years ago. You can visit burial chambers, see the mummified and tattooed remains of the Lady of Cao, and visit the onsite museum to learn more about the Moche.
Treat yourself to a massage in the rainforest
How about treating yourself to a spa treatment and massage surrounded by Amazon Rainforest and wildlife. That’s exactly what’s on offer at the Refugio Amazonas Lodge in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve. In addition to excellent guided wildlife-walks in the reserve to see different monkeys, colorful birds, and delicate tree frogs, you also have the option of the lodge spa and different treatments. Treatments available include the Deep Tissue Massage, Oriental Head, Neck and Shoulders Massage, the Bioenergetic Massage, and some more rainforest-inspired options.
Visit the Ollantaytambo Ruins
The Ollantaytambo Ruins are a favorite archaeological site to visit from Cusco and the name refers to the Incan site and also the town itself. This is one of the starting points to the Inca trail, but can also be visited independently on a half-day trip. Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti and housed members of the Incan elite, but also functioned as a sacred site and fortress. This was a main point of defense for the Inca Yupanqui against the Spanish invasion. The Inca used the high terraces and the Incan knowledge of irrigation by flooding the plain then showering down arrows, spears, and boulders onto the conquistadors. This led to one of the few times the Spanish lost a battle. The conquistadors would later return to take the fortress.
Learn some survival skills in the northern Amazon
If you’re feeling very adventurous, you can test yourself on a survival program in the Amazon Rainforest. On survival tours from the Tahuayo Lodge in northern Peru, head out with your experienced Amazon guide into the rainforest to learn how to live in the wild. Learn how to make fire, find clean water, identify food, make natural mosquito repellant, build a raft, and how to find various survival medicines. The lodge is then nearby where you will acclimatize to the jungle and provides a place for a shower and a little relaxation after your survival experience.
Find many different monkeys in the Amazon
Monkeys are one of the Amazon’s most loved wildlife sightings and in Peru’s protected areas of Amazon Rainforest you can find many different types. A great lodge to see many different monkeys is the Tahuayo Lodge 150 km Iquitos in northern Peru, which offers almost exclusive access to the diverse Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. On an 8 day tour, you will spend time at their Tahuayo Amazon Research Center, which has a 1000 acre primate research grid for studying different primates. This is a fantastic place to walk the trails with your private guide scouting for a diversity of different monkeys. The species you’re likely to see include capuchins, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, titi monkeys, tamarins, marmosets, saki monkeys, and possibly some rarer species. The reserve was founded to protect the uakari monkeys, which are medium-sized monkeys with a bright red face. If you won’t be spending many days in the rainforest and want to see the most monkeys on short tours, you can consider the Sandoval Lake Lodge from Puerto Maldonado where different monkeys visit the lake of a morning.
See the incredible structure of Moray
Moray is one of the most thought-provoking structures of Incan remains. The Inca were known for their incredible agricultural ability and it’s thought that Moray was an agricultural laboratory to test different crops and possibly to learn how to maximize yield. Moray is a giant structure of curved stone terraces, which can be 30 meters (100 ft) deep in some places. The whole structure resembles a giant amphitheater and on each rung archaeologists found earth from different areas of the Incan Empire, from the coastal farms to the Andean terraces. Not only this, but the temperature difference between rungs can be 15 °C (27 °F) creating a perfect place to test different crops in different environments.
A travel bloggers who enjoyed Moray is Katja from Globetotting.com.
Try canopy climbing in Tambopata
The canopy environment contains a large amount of the rainforest’s wildlife with wildlife communities living their entire lives high above the rainforest floor. The branches are patrolled by many different monkeys and predatory birds perched high in the trees scouting for prey. Researchers studying the canopy environment must venture high into the branches to watch rainforest wildlife or to check on populations, such as seeing the macaws in tree holes. To experience life as a macaw researcher, you can try your hand at canopy climbing in the rainforest of Tambopata accessed from Puerto Maldonado. You can enjoy canopy climbing at the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge, the family-friendly and soft-adventure lodge of the Refugio Amazonas, and the Tambopata Research Center, which is a deep jungle lodge in the middle of Tambopata National Reserve.
Visit Brazil nut harvesters
Brazil nut trees are one of the Amazon’s most famous plants and can grow to over 160 feet (50 meters) to emerge through the canopy. To fruit and produce the much-loved Brazil nuts, the trees require a delicate relationship from an orchid and a bee, which means the surrounding rainforest must be protected to harvest the nuts. This is a fantastic emblem for the advantages of ecotourism to help protect the forests and you can visit Brazil nut harvesters and the trees from the Refugio Amazonas Lodge. From the lodge, you will also enjoy fantastic guided tours in the surrounding rainforest to spot many different animals and plants.
Sacsayhuaman is another of Cusco’s main archaeological sites and was an Incan citadel overlooking the city. A heavily fortified structure, the massive stones used in fortification means around 20,000 men were needed in construction. Some of the stones used in the walls weigh 100 tons each. The structure was incredibly mysterious to the Spanish who didn’t see the Inca as being capable of such engineering feats. Not only a fantastic historical site, this is the location of the Inti Raymi celebrations every 24th of June, which are held to honor the Incan sun god and continued in memory of this great civilization.
Some travel bloggers who enjoyed Sacsayhuaman are Sue & Dave from Traveltalesoflife.com.
Canoe or kayak the Amazon waterways
Another great way to experience the Amazon Rainforest, you can canoe or kayak the waterways scouting for different animals. Exploring by kayak or canoe means there is less noise and if you’re exploring flooded forest, you can drift between the trees without disturbing the wildlife. This can mean you get to see animals like monkeys and colorful birds that you wouldn’t get to see on walks. You can choose to explore the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve with your private guide using traditional dugout canoes at the adventurous Tahuayo Lodge or opt for modern kayaks from the Refugio Amazonas Lodge or community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge in the Tambopata Amazon, or even enjoy kayaking excursions aboard cruises, such as the luxury-class Delfin II or Delfin I.
Learn about the Paracas Culture & Reserve
Another of Peru’s mysterious areas, the Paracas National Reserve covers around 335,000 ha of ocean, a portion of tropical desert, and a large amount of coastline. The protected area was Peru’s first marine reserve but the most interesting features for many people are the remains of the mysterious Paracas Culture. To learn the little we know of this culture, you can visit the Muséo Sitio de Julio C. Tello on the border of the reserve, which is a museum on the area. The Paracas lived from 100 BC to 300 AD and you can visit the remains of a Paracas Necropolis and see the strangely shaped skulls of the people and burial sites. Archaeologists have also uncovered evidence of human habitation in the area from 6500 BC.
A travel blogger who visited the Paracas National Reserve is Molly from Mollyontheroad.com.
Enjoy night tours to find caiman
Caiman are the South American version of alligators and crocodiles and although many are small, the intimidating black caiman can grow to the same size as large crocodiles. The best way to spot these fascinating reptiles is night-spotting where you head out with your guide in the evening and scout the waterways for the caiman’s eyes, which glisten with the light. Great places to see different caiman in Peru are on different Amazon River tours from Iquitos and also from the top lodges in Tambopata, which is in southern Peru and accessed from the gateway jungle town of Puerto Maldonado. A nice lodge for this region is the Refugio Amazonas Lodge.
Try fishing for piranha
Piranha often have a fearsome reputation among rainforest visitors and it’s a fun activity to go fishing for these intimidating fish and to see them up close. Piranha seem to prefer fast flowing water and can be found in the Amazon’s tributaries. A great lodge to head out and turn the tables by fishing for these predatory and sharp-toothed fish is the Tahuayo Lodge in northern Peru. You can even take your catch back to the lodge to taste piranha for one of the ultimate Amazonian dining experiences.
See the incredible Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are one of Peru’s most popular tourist attractions and are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The lines are located between the towns of Nazca and Palpa and were drawn in the ground by the Nazca culture who lived around 2000 years ago. The lines show different shapes, from simple lines to more complex forms. About 70 of the 900 geoglyphs shows different animals, such as monkeys, fish, lizards, spiders, and birds. The reason for the lines remains mysterious, but they could have been drawn for religious reasons or even for studying the stars.
Enjoy camping in the rainforest
For an up-close experience of the Amazon Rainforest, you can head out into the rainforest to camp and sleep under the stars. This is a great experience for a constant connection to Amazonia where you can sleep listening to Amazon birds and animals then wake with the sound of howler monkeys. A great option for this activity is the Tahuayo Lodge in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, which started as one of the Amazon’s first adventure camping companies. With your private guide, style your tour around what you would like to do. Trek deep into the rainforest to see different animals and plants and find a nice place to camp. This is a great activity to experience the Amazon and to see some of the rarer animals, such as the uakaris, which were the reason for the reserve’s foundation.
Visit traditional Peruvian markets
To remember your time in Peru, you can buy a traditional souvenir from an Andean or rainforest market, which differ in the items available. Many people choose to purchase different alpaca wool products, such as clothing and blankets or choose different handicrafts from the rainforest villages. There are fantastic markets dotted all over Peru and many people choose to visit Cusco or Iquitos, but there is also a great rainforest market in Puerto Maldonado, which provides access to different jungle lodges in Peru and is where you find the most clay licks and wildlife-filled oxbow lakes.
See the fascinating area of Revash
Revash is a burial area of the Chachapoyas and is built into the limestone cliffs in the district of Santo Tomás of northern Peru. The Chachapoyas are one of the only civilizations we know of that lived in Peru’s tropics and archaeologists have discovered 12 human remains in the Revash tombs. The decoration and structure of the tombs resemble houses more than burial sites and the walls are painted with fascinating patterns, such as the animals of the region, including cats and camelids.
Enjoy short 2 or 3 day Amazon tours
If you’re visiting Peru to see Cusco or other attractions, we recommend making the most of your time here and visiting the Amazon Rainforest, which is the world’s largest container of animals and plants. If you choose to visit the Amazon on a short add-on tour, one of the best places to consider is the Amazon gateway town of Puerto Maldonado. Because the Tambopata National Reserve is so close to the town, you can be in areas of superb wildlife after only 30 minutes travel time. This means you maximize your time in the rainforest scouting for incredible animals and plants. Great lodges for a short 1 or 2 night adventure include the Sandoval Lake Lodge on the beautiful Sandoval Lake and the Posada Amazonas Lodge, which is a community-owned lodge with an excellent canopy town and its own small clay lick.
Try surfing in Mancora
Surfing may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Peru, but the beach town of Manora is quickly becoming a surfer destination with great resorts, sunshine, fresh seafood, and of course, great surf. The water is usually warm with good waves and the town provides lively nightlife. The area attracts tourists traveling through Peru, but also has its own surfer crowd. The waves start small and it’s a great place for beginners looking to learn to surf. For a more relaxed beach destination, you can also visit the nearby town of Vichayito, which is just a little south of Mancora.
Take a photography course in Tambopata
What better place to learn or improve your photography than taking a photography course with an award-winning photographer in the Amazon Rainforest. On photography courses in the Tambopata National Research from the Posada Amazonas Lodge, Refugio Amazonas Lodge, and Tambopata Research Center, you will tour oxbow lakes with giant river otters, areas with high probability of seeing harpy eagle nests, macaw clay licks to photograph colorful macaw parrots, and even have a good chance of spotting elusive jaguar.
See macaw nesting sites
You can see a different stage of a macaw’s life by having a look at nest sites used by these fantastic parrots. Many visitors enjoy spotting macaws as they fly over the rainforest from Amazon Rainforest tours as you head out on trail walks or rainforest cruises. If you want to focus a little more on seeing these large and colorful parrots, you can choose lodges near different clay licks. In the southern Amazon, you can visit some of the largest macaw clay licks where hundreds of these parrots congregate to feed from salt-rich and medicinal clay. A great lodge for this is the Manu Wildlife Center, but if you also want to see macaw nesting areas, we recommend the Heath River Wildlife Center and Tambopata Research Center. From these lodges, you will pass macaw nesting sites and possibly see some birds visiting the tree holes showing you another phase of a macaw’s life.
Spot sea lions on the Ballestas Islands
You can head out from the Peruvian coast from the town of Paracas to visit the Ballestas Islands and its different marine wildlife. On cruises around the islands, you can spot the seals and sea lions, many different seabirds, the blue footed boobies and Humboldt penguins. Cruises take around 2 hours and you are also likely to spot pelicans and dolphins enroute. Also, on the way out to sea, if you look back you will see a geoglyph of ‘El Candelabro’, which may have served to signal boats out at sea and was likely drawn by the Paracas culture somewhere around 200 B.C.
Improve your Spanish
Peru is a great place to learn or improve your Spanish. The people are friendly and it’s a good place to simply chat with locals and test out what you’ve learned. There are many different highly recommended Spanish schools where you can learn in either Lima or Cusco, or even Iquitos in the jungle of northern Peru. Good schools include the Peruwayna Spanish School in Lima and the AMAUTA Spanish School in Cusco.
A travel blogger who learned Spanish in Peru is Gemma from Fottlestravels.com.
Stay at a community-owned rainforest lodge
To have the most beneficial effect on the rainforest, its wildlife, and local communities, the best thing for tourism operations is to involve the local communities in the management and operation of the lodge. To maximize the beneficial impact, the lodge has the best effect on wildlife and local communities by being owned by the communities and then having the profits of the enterprise shared equally among the community. A great community-owned lodge in the Peruvian Amazon where you can visit a lake inhabited by giant river otters, enjoy a canopy tower, and tour the rainforest to spot different monkeys is the Posada Amazonas Lodge. The Posada Amazonas is owned by the indigenous Ese-Eja community of Infierno and is positioned in the Ese-Eja Community Reserve, which is a section of connected rainforest with the Tambopata National Reserve.
Climb a rainforest canopy tower to see into the trees
Canopy towers provide a fantastic place to gaze out over the Amazon Rainforest canopy to spot different birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. Researchers studying the canopy environment have found animals completing their entire lives in the trees without venturing to the forest floor. These studies of the canopy have rocketed up species estimates for the entire forest and from tall canopy towers you can see some fascinating species. The towers are also simply fantastic for admiring the various shades of green of the rainforest canopy. You can find canopy towers in Peru from the Posada Amazonas Lodge in southern Peru and the Refugio Amazonas Lodge in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve, which you will also visit on stays at the Tambopata Research Center in the heart of this protected area.
Stay at your exclusive bungalow in the Amazon
To have a private and secluded experience while in the Amazon Rainforest, you can enjoy a stay at the Amazon Villa in the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve. Your exclusive tour begins from the airport where you will be collected in private transport to travel down the Madre de Dios to your own exclusive bungalow of the Amazon Villa. Enjoy WiFi to stay connected with friends and family, a hot-water bath to relax in the rainforest, lounge area, and very comfortable bed. Your delicious meals will be served in private creating a romantic atmosphere, but you’re more than welcome to visit the associated Refugio Amazonas Lodge if you feel like socialising. Choose from a variety of activities, such as rainforest walks to see different monkeys and colorful birds, kayaking, canopy climbing, and visiting an oxbow lake.
Enjoy the Amazon with a private guide & custom tour
To make sure you spend time doing the things that interest you in the Amazon Rainforest, we recommend the Tahuayo Lodge where you receive a private guide and custom itinerary as standard. As you receive a private guide and the lodge provides almost exclusive access to the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve, you can focus on photography, birding, learning about medicinal plants, finding various monkeys, or simply a general wildlife-experience with more walking, kayaking, or boating the waterways.
See the ruins of Pisac
Located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Pisac refers to both a village and different Incan ruins, including temples, agricultural areas, and a fortress to defend this part of the Sacred Valley. Although the region is best known for the ruins, the village hosts a fantastic Andean market, which is now open every day. The largest market is held each Sunday and is very popular with visitors. The fortress of Pisac sits high on the hill to look over the valley and you can see famous Inca terracing down the hillside.
A travel blogger who enjoyed the Pisac Ruins is Nora from Theprofessionalhobo.com.
Visit the ancient site of Caral
Caral is the oldest known city in the Americas and is found a little north of Lima in the Barranca province. This is the largest site of the Norte Chico and was thought to have housed around 3,000 people of the 20,000 people that lived in the Supe Valley where the ruins are found. The Norte Chico existed from 3,000 to 1,800 BC making it one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Caral itself includes six pyramids, circular courts, massive stone mounts, and accommodation for the elite of the Norte Chico culture.
Try standup paddleboarding in Tambopata
Standup paddleboarding is a relaxing and fun way to explore the waterways listening to the sounds of the Amazon. As you paddle up the rivers of Tambopata, you can see different kingfishers fishing in the rivers, see baby caiman, see some monkeys moving through the trees, and see macaws and toucans flying over the forest. You can enjoy stand-up paddleboarding from different lodges in the Tambopata rainforest of southern Peru, including the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge and the family-friendly Refugio Amazonas Lodge, which you will also visit on tours from the Tambopata Research Center.
Try a plate of guinea pig
Although regarded as a pet in European cultures, the story of guinea pigs dates back to their domestication in the Andes. They are still widely eaten In the Peruvian mountain regions and are known as ‘cuy’, which may shock a few visitors who have only known these animals as house pets. If you visit the Monastery of San Francisco or the Cusco cathedral, you can even see a painting of cuy being served before Jesus for the Last Supper. This helped convert the local communities to Christianity following the Spanish conquest and supplemented the often aggressive spread of the religion throughout the Andes.
Try some green spaghetti
Peru is home to some of the best cuisine on the continent with familiar favorites mixed with a Peruvian twist. One of the most visually interesting dishes is tallarines verdes or green spaghetti. The dish is made from a pesto sauce coating spaghetti and is topped with a beef steak. You can try the dish at many of Peru’s restaurants.
Get the best chance to see wild jaguars in Peru
Jaguar are one of the most exciting wildlife sightings in Peru and to get the best chance of seeing these elusive cats, we recommend visiting deep Amazon Rainforest lodges from the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado. This gateway town is located in southern Peru and provides access to the most clay licks in the entire Amazon Rainforest. This is also a great place to find many different oxbow lakes. Possibly because of these attractions to herbivores, you often have a higher chance of spotting wild jaguar at deep lodges like the Tambopata Research Center. The lodge offers a 10% success rate of spotting these incredible cats.
Visit the incredible Manu National Park
Reportedly the most pristine of Peru’s national parks, Manu National Park is a must-visit destination for wildlife lovers. The amount of animals and plants protected within the park is outstanding and wildlife is free to roam into the connected rainforest surrounding Manu. Although not allowed in the park itself, you can enjoy the Manu Reserved Zone on the Manu Adventurer tour. The Manu Adventurer combines the renowned Manu Wildlife Center with a low-impact tent located in the reserved zone. Enjoy watching giant river otters in beautiful oxbow lakes, a large macaw clay lick at the Manu Wildlife Center, and a tapir clay lick to see the largest land mammal in South America.
Visit the Larco Museum
The Larco Museum has a large collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, including ancient mummies, ceramics, precious metals, and textiles that span over 3,000 years. The museum is housed in a colonial mansion, which was built on a pre-Columbian temple meaning the location and building itself is of historical significance. See many different ceramic objects sculpted by members of the country’s ancient cultures. Aside from the general ceramics, the museum’s section on erotic artifacts that disgusted the Spanish conquistadors set the museum apart and add a unique feature.
Enjoy rainforest night walks looking for different animals
Heading out on night walks gives a glimpse at an entirely new set of animals and sometimes different flowers. Enjoy spotting different nocturnal birds like owls and potoos, owl monkeys, tarantulas, different reptiles, tree frogs, and possibly some agoutis and coatimundis. Night walks are offered from most Amazon lodges to show you a different phase of the rainforest. While out in the forest, make sure you look up to the stars as with no pollution, you can see the Milky Way in beautiful detail.
Visit the Museum of the Central Reserve Bank
The Museum of the Central Reserve Bank is another favorite museum in Lima with the most popular and unique feature being the gold artifacts, including sacrificial knives, ornaments, and jewelry. The exhibits cover several pre-Colombian cultures such as the Moche, Inca, Nasca, Chimu, and Chavin and you can also find textiles, pottery, and wooden artifacts from each civilization.
Enjoy the Magic Water Circuit in Lima
The Magic Water Circuit in Lima is part of the Parque de las Aguas, which is a lesser visited city park for visitors, but is a nice place to to go for a relaxing evening walk. Enjoy a fantastic show of water and lights and the beautiful park. The light show is fantastic and the park is the Guinness world record holder for the largest fountain complex in the world.
Visit Amazonian oxbow lakes
Oxbow lakes in the Amazon Basin are where tributaries of the Amazon River once flowed but changed direction and left behind these arc-shaped bodies of water. The oxbow lakes attract a diversity of Amazon Rainforest animals, such as many different monkeys, capybara, hoatzins, parrots, and other colorful birds. The lakes are often home to caiman crocodiles and some provide refuge for endangered giant river otters. Some great lodges to visit wildlife-filled lakes are the Sandoval Lake Lodge in Tambopata National Reserve, which can be enjoyed on a tour of as little as one or two nights. From Sandoval Lake Lodge, you will head out on the lake to spot different monkeys and the resident family of giant river otters. Other fantastic lodges to see diverse lakes include the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge and the renowned Manu Wildlife Center for the Manu rainforest. This is a great lodge for giant river otters, a macaw clay lick, a tapir clay lick, rainforest trails to see several different monkeys, and you will even have a 10% chance of spotting wild jaguar.
The Sandoval Lake LodgePuerto Maldonado, Peru
Visit Cusco’s beautiful Plaza de Armas
A nice thing to do in Cusco is to simply sit in the Plaza de Armas admiring the beauty of the plaza and the history of the area. The plaza has been here since the Inca and is found in the heart of the city. Backing the plaza is the Church of the Society of Jesus, which was once the site of an Incan place. The other side of the plaza is home to the cathedral and during the building of the church, Pope Paul III in Rome was called to resolve a dispute of which building should be the most impressive. You can mull over which one you think won as you watch the fountains, gardens, and the locals enjoying the atmosphere.
Photograph a llama and alpaca
Peru’s only domesticated animals along with the little guinea pigs, llama and alpaca are synonymous with the Peruvian Andes. Many people leave Peru with clothing or blankets made from alpaca fleece and there are many markets in the Andes to choose some good quality products. For an iconic photo of Peru, however, you should also take a photo of a llama or alpaca and you can see these wonderful animals around Cusco. The animals are found with their owner who is usually dressed with traditional and colorful clothing and it costs around 1 Peruvian sol for a photo, which is about 30 cents.
Some travel bloggers who photographed a llama are Ray & Sue from Travelandwildlifephotography.com.
See the wild vicuñas
Vicuñas are wild camelids and are thought to be the wild ancestors of alpacas. You can see the vicuñas in the Andean environment and an area protecting the world’s highest population of vicuñas is the Pampa Galeras Vicuña Reserve, which we ranked as one of the best protected areas to visit in Peru because of these iconic animals. Featured on Peru’s flag and important during the days of the Inca, their wool was so highly prized that only royalty were permitted to wear vicuña wool clothing. Covering 60,000 hectares, the high altitude reserve can be found near Nasca.
A travel blogger who saw some vicunas is Koen from Boarding.today.
Enjoy a birdwatching tour in the Amazon Rainforest
If you have a particular interest in birdwatching and want to see as many species as possible, the Amazon Rainforest is a dream come true. There are more birds in small areas of Amazon Rainforest than there are in many countries. Recommended lodges to head out on specific birdwatching tours include the Posada Amazonas Lodge, Refugio Amazonas Lodge, and the Tambopata Research Center. Contact either of the lodges using their page on TourTheTropics.com and mention a particular interest in birding and you will receive a specific itinerary with some of the best birding guides in the Amazon Rainforest.
Try different Amazon Rainforest fruit
There is an incredible amount of different fruits to try in the Amazon Rainforest with many species growing wild through the forest. See different delicious fruits like camu camu, jungle passion fruit, cocoa, guanábana, and cupuaçu. On visits to different lodges, such as the fantastic Refugio Amazonas Lodge and the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge, you will take tours to visit some of the community farms where different crops are grown, including a variety of rainforest fruit you are free to taste.
See the most wildlife at a deep Amazon lodge
To see the most wildlife possible, we recommend heading deep into the Amazon Rainforest to enjoy rainforest lodges or deep rainforest cruises into areas of the jungle where wildlife is at carrying capacity for the environment. This means you will be in an area with the maximum amount of wildlife possible to see many different animals and plants. To maximize your wildlife viewing even more, you can choose a rainforest lodge near a wildlife-rich lake and an animal clay lick where different animals, such as macaws, tapirs, and monkeys visit to obtain different salts. A great lodge for this is the Manu Wildlife Center, but we also recommend the Heath River & Sandoval Combination Tour, or the Tambopata Research Center for a focus on macaws and monkeys. For a private guide and custom itinerary, you can also visit the deep jungle Tahuayo Lodge from Iquitos in northern Peru.
The Manu Wildlife CenterPuerto Maldonado, Peru
See the Inti Raymi festival
The Inti Raymi festival is the festival of the Incan sun god, who was one of the most highly regarded deities in Incan culture. This was one of the most important of Cusco’s festivities during the Inca civilization. Following the defeat of the Inca, the celebration was banned until 1944 when a reconstruction took place with indigenous actors and has been taking place at Sacsayhuaman ever since. Held on June 24th each year, the celebration attracts thousands of visitors and is a great way to have a look back at Incan culture and festivities.
Some travel bloggers who enjoyed the Inti Raymi festival are Jo & Des from Worldwideadventurers.com.
Learn Salsa dancing
Although originating in the Caribbean and cultivated in New York, salsa and its latino roots spread throughout Latin America and there are different schools in Lima and Cusco to learn this fun dance. Salsa is easy to learn the basic steps and you will be up dancing in no time. A good place to test out your moves is in the Calle de las Pizzas near Kennedy Park in Miraflores.
A travel blogger who enjoyed salsa in Peru is Elles from Completelygonenomad.com.
Take a cooking class
Peruvian gastronomy is often regarded as one of the world’s finest and you can learn to recreate some of the iconic dishes. Some of the favorites to learn are lomo saltado, estofado de pollo, and the tallarines verdes mentioned further up. Enjoy cooking various dishes, learning about the history of Peruvian cuisine, and tasting some delicious food.
You can enjoy a cooking class in Miraflores at Peruviancookingclasses.com.
Visit a top-rated chocolate shop
Roselen Chocolatier in Lima has been ranked by National Geographic Traveler as one of the world’s ten best chocolate shops. The chocolates are treated like individual works of art and hand-painted with flavors inspired from the Peruvian rainforest. Enjoy a tasting class to sample different exotic flavors and pick which selections take your fancy. You can visit the Roselen Chocolatier on Av. Caminos del Inca #257 and Av. El Polo 670 Tienda B-104 in Surco.
See the last battle site of the Inca Empire
Cajamarca is a fantastic city to visit and one of Peru’s most historically important. This was where the Inca Empire finally came to an end at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors. The city sits in the Mashcon River Valley and provides some fantastic examples of architectural splendor and archaeological sites. This is the site of the Battle of Cajamarca, which ended with the capture and execution of the Incan emperor Atahualpa.
A travel blogger who enjoyed Cajamarca is Kiara from Galloparoundtheglobe.com.
See the Rescue Room
While in Cajamarca, you can visit one of Peru’s most famous buildings, which has a grim yet fascinating historical significance. Many of the historical buildings in Cajamarca are worth seeing, but the Ransom Room, or Cuarto del Rescate, was where the Incan Emperor Atahualpa met a grisly end. Although the emperor offered a room filled with gold and another of silver to set him free, the only choice given was to be either burned alive, which prevented him getting to the Incan afterlife or garotted after a baptism into the Christian faith. After christening, ‘Francisco’ Atahualpa was then executed in this very room on 26 July 1533.
Visit an oasis in the desert
For a contrasting area of Peruvian landscape, you can visit the oasis town of Huacachina. The beautiful oasis town is surrounded by undulating sand dunes, which measure as some of the world’s largest. The lagoon itself is surrounded by attractive palm trees, rustic hotels, bars, and nice restaurants. It’s a great place to relax with a cocktail in the hotel swimming pool overlooking the dunes or near the lagoon.
Enjoy a floating restaurant in Iquitos
On a tributary of the mighty Amazon River in Iquitos city, you can find Al Frio Al Fuego. This is a floating restaurant offering good food with friendly service and is an attractively decorated restaurant. The experience of getting in by boat to visit the restaurant is part of the attraction. If you eat during the daylight hours, the views are fantastic and the evening brings its own romantic atmosphere. To add to the experience, there is also a swimming pool you are free to enjoy.
Try sandboarding the dunes
Huacachina is not just a great place to relax but the surrounding dunes provide a great place for sand-based activities. The sand dunes are some of the largest in the world and as mentioned further up you can enjoy zooming around the sands in a dune buggy. Another activity is sandboarding, which is where the sand replaces snow and you board down the sands for an exhilarating experience. If you’re inexperienced, you can slide down the 50 foot dunes on your belly but if you get the hang of it or know how to board, you can stand on your feet to speed down the sands.
Have a go at rafting in Lunahuana
Lunahuana is Peru’s emerging adventure hub, which is about 3 hours from the Peruvian capital of Lima. There are some great hotels and restaurants in the area, but what draws the crowds are the adventure activities. The main activity is white water rafting and you will enjoy rafting the exciting Canete River, which usually takes around 40 minutes of excited paddling. This is a highly recommended activity and is a great contrast to a usual Peruvian experience of archaeology and Amazonia.
Visit the Cusco planetarium
Offering a different type of attraction near Cusco, the planetarium provides information on the Incan interpretation of the cosmos. Astronomy had a great significance for the Inca and even the main streets of Cusco were designed to match up with the stars. Cusco’s Valencia family started and operate the planetarium, which is located just behind Sacsayhuaman. You will not just learn about the Incan interpretations, but also see how the Spanish and sailors regarded the stars, and then learn about our modern understanding of astronomy. Not just offering information, you will have the chance to look up at the night sky yourself in the small observatory.
Hike the Rainbow Hill (Vinicunca Mountain)
One of the world’s most magical-looking mountains, Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountain is a multi-colored part of the Peruvian Andes, which you can visit on 1-day or 2-day hikes from Cusco or enjoy the full week-long Ausangate trek. The colorful sandstone mountains are striped with turquoise, red, gold, and yellow colors making for one of Peru’s most visually spectacular natural attractions.
A travel blogger who enjoyed the Rainbow Hill is Lesley from Theroadlestraveled.com.
See the ruins of Chavín de Huántar
The Chavín were a pre-Incan culture that existed from about 900 BC to 250 BC and their civilization was built around the religious site of Chavín de Huántar. Located a couple of hours north of Lima, Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological site in Peru’s Ancash Region. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area contains different temples with walls intricately decorated with various carvings and a circular plaza. This was the religious center for the Chavin and of central significance for the entire Chavin culture.
Try llama meat
If you haven’t got too attached to Peru’s domestic camelid, you can order a llama steak in some of the country’s nicest restaurants. Llamas were very important for the Inca and the animals were used as beasts of burden, their wool provided cloth, llama dung was used for fertilizer, and they were a source of meat. The Quechua word ‘charqui’ refers to salted llama meat, which was dried in the sun and the modern-day word ‘jerky’ comes from this ancient tradition.
Some travel bloggers who tried llama meat are Sarah & Paddy from Backpackdiary.com.
One of the national dishes of Peru, ceviche is made from raw fish drizzled with citrus juices and different spices. Because of the raw-nature, we recommend trying ceviche in Peru’s top restaurants or aboard luxury cruises like the Delfin II to make sure it’s properly prepared. If you ask locals their favorite Peruvian food, around 8 out of 10 people will mention ceviche in their top recommendations. Ceviche is thought to have originated in Peru with pre-incan cultures and was then influenced with the arrival of citrus fruits with the Spanish. The popularity of the dish is demonstrated on June 28, which is known as National Ceviche Day in Peru where the dish is celebrated as part of the country’s national heritage.
Enjoy the national cocktail
If ceviche is part of the national heritage of Peru on the cuisine side, the beverage side of the gastronomy is represented by the famous Pisco sour. Although the cocktail was developed at Lima’s now-closed Morris’ Bar in the early 1900s, two of the main places keeping the tradition alive and leading to the adoption of the drink into Peruvian culture were the Hotel Bolívar and Hotel Maury. The Pisco sour is made from Pisco as the base liquor, lemon or lime juice, syrup, ice, Angostura bitters, and egg white. The ingredients create the iconic frothy appearance.
Experience Lima nightlife
If you’re after some nightlife in Lima, you can’t go wrong with the bars and clubs surrounding Parque Kennedy, the Calle de las Pizzas, Manuel Bonilla Street, and Calle Berlin in Miraflores. Calle de las Pizzas is often where visitors first explore and then head to some of the less tourist focused places. Many of the places have live music and are friendly for visitors.
Eat at Lima’s Central Restaurante
Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Peru, Lima’s Central Restaurante takes you on a culinary journey around Peru to connect you with this diverse country. The cuisine is inspired by Peru’s various cultures and environments using fresh ingredients. The restaurant’s team of chefs is constantly exploring the country to bring you different dishes inspired by the Peruvian coast, Andes, and the jungles. Make sure you book well in advance as the restaurant gets quickly booked and reservations are taken for four-month periods.
Visit the Historic Centre of Lima
The Historic Centre of Lima is one of Peru’s top tourist attractions and the city of Lima was founded here by Francisco Pizarro on 18 January 1535. The area includes Lima’s oldest buildings with extravagant Spanish colonial architecture, churches, plazas, palaces, and the Cathedral of Lima. The Plaza de Armas in the center is surrounded by some fantastic examples of Spanish architecture with the iconic wooden balconies. The cathedral is the main landmark and was treated as the symbol of South America’s Spanish colonization until Peru’s independence.
Buy some alpaca wool clothing
Alpaca are highly prized for their wool and the fibre is known for its silky soft, durable, and luxurious qualities. One of the earliest known Alpaca-wool items dates to Peru’s Paracas culture from 2,000 years ago and many of the country’s cultures held the wool with the highest regard. Alpaca wool clothing is one of the most sought-after items from Peru and many visitors choose to purchase their products from Arequipa or Cusco, but you can also buy high-quality alpaca products in Lima, such as in LarcoMar. Take care if choosing a lower-price alpaca item as fake alpaca clothing made from synthetic materials or llama wool abound. Some recommended stores include the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Kuna, and Alpaca 111.
Enjoy Cusco’s Corpus Cristi
Held in June each year, Cusco’s Corpus Cristi is one of Peru’s main festivals. A religious festival, Corpus Cristi is a traditional mostly-Catholic Christian festival. This is a great opportunity to mix with thousands of locals on the streets of Cusco where it is celebrated with the most magnificence. Enjoy a colorful parade of several processions representing fifteen saints and virgins. A day before the festivities is the Corpus Christi feast where twelve different set foods and drinks are prepared and eaten.
Some travel bloggers who enjoyed Cusco’s Corpus Cristi are Jo & Des from Worldwideadventurers.com.
See the Carnaval in Cajamarca
Another of Peru’s main festivals, the Cajamarca Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations of the festival after Rio de Janeiro. The city is famous for the best festivities and Carnival is one the city residents wait for in anticipation. See the traditional dance celebration around the yunsa tree, which is decorated with various gifts and ribbons. The festival date changes but is usually in the first half of February where you can enjoy dancing, colorful processions, and music. Be prepared to get wet and colorful as it’s traditional to throw water and paint-filled balloons.
Visit the Inca Baths
Another of the attractions near Cajamarca, the Inca Baths are both an archaeological attraction and functioning hot pools. The baths were important for the Inca and played an important role in spirituality. Bathings in the baths themselves was a spiritual ritual to purify and cleanse the soul. Although around 500 baths are dotted around Peru, the most famous are the Baños del Inca near Cajamarca. There is even a royal bath, which was reserved for Atahualpa himself when he was traveling through the city. Not only a great place to relax in the water, from the baths you will be treated to beautiful scenery.
Celebrate Puno’s Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria
If you’re heading to Puno to visit Titicaca, the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria is a celebration of the patron of Puno city and is held in the first two weeks of February. This is one of Peru’s most important cultural events. Enjoy different dancers, music, fireworks, and colorful shows. The streets of Puno come alive with different parades. The festival’s main dance is ‘La Diablada’ or dance of the devils.
Feed manatees in Iquitos
If you’re heading to to northern Peru for Amazon River tours from Iquitos, a great thing to do while in the city is to visit the Manatee Rescue Center. The center helps with reintroductions of manatees, which were severely hunted in the past. Breeding and rehabilitation programs help release the manatees back into the nearby Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. While learning about the manatees and the work the center is doing, you can also take turns feeding the manatees with lettuce and milk.
Enjoy a family Amazon tour
Although most Amazon Rainforest tours are family friendly, there are a few that have special family Amazon tours or cruises especially suited to families with young children or teenagers. The Refugio Amazonas Lodge has a rainforest family trail, which helps explain the rainforest and wildlife in a relatable way for young children. There is also a spa for parents and the lodge provides great tours of the buffer zone of the wildlife-rich Tambopata National Reserve. The Refugio and other lodges, such as the community-owned Posada Amazonas and the Tambopata Research Center then offer great add-on activities popular with teenagers, such as jungle mountain biking, kayaking, canopy climbing, and standup paddleboarding.
Travel from Andes to Amazon
Regarded as one of the most incredible Nature experiences in South America, you can travel from the Andes mountains down to the steamy lowland jungle of the Manu rainforest. Stop on the way to enjoy different Andean lodges in the cloud forest and expertly guided wildlife tours in the Amazon Rainforest. See the magical forests penetrated by cloud cover to see woolly monkeys, spectacled bears, Peru’s national bird, and different hummingbirds. Witness an incredible transition of environments as you travel from the clouds to the lowland rainforest to see a large macaw clay lick with hundreds of macaw parrots, an oxbow lake to see resident giant river otters, a tapir clay lick to see South America’s largest land mammal, and tour the rainforest to see colorful birds and many different monkeys. There are a few different options to consider, from the Bio Trip for the described experience, to the Manu Explorer and Manu Tapir & Macaws Tour, which also add an experience to the Reserved Zone of Manu National Park.
The Manu BioTripCusco, Peru
The Manu Tapir & Macaws TourCusco, Peru
See the historic rubber boom city of Iquitos
Located in northern Peru, Iquitos is the gateway to the Amazon Rainforest and there are some fantastic Amazon River tours from Iquitos. This was once a prosperous rubber boom city where the rise of the bicycle and automobile provided a great demand for rubber. In these days, the only way to acquire the main material to make rubber was by tapping the latex from the Hevea brasiliensis rubber trees. The rubber barons owned the ground where the rubber trees were and got rich and powerful on the backs of the indigenous people. There are many things to do in Iquitos, but the city itself is fascinating to walk around imagining its incredible history. Affluent mansions of the rubber barons were built using the finest material money could buy. To give an example, a rubber baron was once at a Paris architectural exhibition and saw a building he liked. He shipped the building from France to the Amazon River and it now stands as the Iron House opposite the Plaza de Armas in Iquitos city.About the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.