As Peru gains popularity, this previously discovered destination deserves to be revisited for many reasons. Located in the northwestern region of South America, the renowned destination of Peru has traditionally been associated with Machu Picchu and the mystery of the Incas. Although a trek to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail (or less crowded Salkantay Route) is worth a trip to this legendary Latin American country in itself, Peru has about every landscape possible, including over 2,600 km of sandy tropical beaches, the lush jungles of the Amazon rainforest, and the high mountain plateaus of the Andes.
For the first-time adventure traveler to Peru, there are a few destinations and revelations to be discussed. First of all, set aside some time to travel through the different areas of this diverse country. The Pacific coastline of Peru is a spectacular site known for having excellent surfing, deep sea fishing, windsurfing, and sailing. The inland areas encompass the Amazon Basin, comprised of dense jungle filled with a wealth of wildlife and unique flora. Take a boat ride along the Amazon River to see the interior of this exclusive terrain and enjoy the solace that comes with being deep in the jungle.
Lima, the illustrious capital of Peru, has become a dichotomy of European chic and South American poverty. With a wealthy downtown, affluent suburbs lining the coast, and shantytowns spreading into the surrounding areas, this Peruvian city is full of culture and variety. With a microclimate that beckons cooler temperatures and a consistent fog bank throughout the year, Lima is far from the sultry paradise one would expect when traveling to the tropics. Rich in history and full of the Latin love for life, Lima encompasses the spirit of the country and serves as the pulse of Peru.
For the cultural experience of a lifetime, a trip to Lake Titicaca is unparalleled. Located on the border between Peru and Bolivia, this is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. Comprised of 41 islands, some of which are densely populated, Lake Titicaca is known as the heart of Incan mythology, with Isla del Sol being considered the birthplace of the Incan sun god. With over 180 ruins sprinkled over the island, adventure travelers will need to allot a fair amount of time to explore the lake, islands, and people who reside here.
Plan to take at least one multi-day hiking trip in the Andes. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a 4-day trek, is by far the most popular route, although other trails such as the Salkantay Route offer a comparable experience without the crowds (a great option is the 7-day lodge-to-lodge trek along the Salkantay Route, offered by local operator Mountain Lodges of Peru). Most trekking adventures begin in Cusco, the “Gateway to Machu Picchu” and the ancient capital of the Incas. Explore the wonders of Urubamba, also known as the Sacred Valley, as the many hiking trails leading to the famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu weave their way through this valley, into the Andes, and high into the cloud forest. Also accessible by train, Machu Picchu can now be visited by travelers of all ages and fitness levels.
Whether you’re interested in vibrant cityscapes, charming towns, ancient wonders, breathtaking alpine scenery, or lush tropical jungles, Peru is a great option for every type of active traveler.