Peru is a destination jam-packed with options when it comes to historical exploration and adventure. Once you have ticked the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu through a Salkantay Trek off your list, here are some other attractions that will leave you even more in awe of Peru and all its charms.
The treasures of Cusco
Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason, Wandering through this city feels like exploring a museum, it is so rich in history. Many of the old colonial buildings that line the narrow streets have been built upon foundations of ancient Inca ruins, displaying Cusco’s long history.
Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s main square in the city center, is home to the Cathedral as well as La Compania, two equally stunning structures. Another must-see attraction is the church of Santo Domingo, which rests upon the ruins of an ancient Inca site called Coricancha.
Cusco is a treasure-trove of historically significant, beautiful sights and well worth exploring.
Surrounded by traditional small villages amidst rolling hills, the blue sparkling waters of Lake Titicaca are stunning. One of the main tourist attractions, the Uros Floating Islands, are home to small communities of Uros Indians. These man-made islands are constructed of reeds and date back to the time of the Incas.
But the floating islands are only part of Lake Titicaca’s charm, with the small villages in the hills along the shore providing beautiful and fascinating exploration.
A boat trip around the islands and villages is the best way to appreciate the area, with the closest hub to the Lake being the city of Puno.
Cañon del Colca is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and the second deepest in the world after Cotahuasi Canyon. Reaching a depth of 3,400 meters, this area has been inhabited for thousands of years, with stone terracing along its walls dating back to AD 800.
Colca Canyon is a four-hour drive from Arequipa, with day trips available – although several days are recommended, given the distance. Besides taking in the magnificence of the canyon itself, there are hot springs, villages, churches and Inca ruins all to explore.
Another big attraction to the canyon is the Condors that inhabit the area and are regularly seen soaring amongst the towering cliffs. Quite a sight to behold!
The Nazca Lines
The sight of these mysterious Nazca lines etched into the desert floor will certainly leave you with a sense of awe. These incredible images were relatively unknown until, in the 1920s, planes began flying over the area.
From the air, as many as 70 distinct patterns of plants, animals and geometrical shapes can be viewed, some stretching as long as 10 kilometers, with the Nazca lines as a whole spanning over hundreds of square kilometers.
Even more fascinating still, is that no one knows exactly why they are there. Theories center around the Paracas and Nazca cultures creating them sometime between 900 BC and AD 600 as a type of astrological calendar, although many believe they were put there by aliens!
From Cusco, a beautiful 30-minute flight takes you to Puerto Maldonado – the key destination from which to explore the Amazon. This hot and humid jungle atmosphere is in contrast to much of Peru’s attractions, with a chance to see a host of amazing wildlife. Monkeys, turtles, parrots and piranhas and more are just waiting to be spotted!
The Reserva Nacional Tambopata and the Parque Nacional Bahuaja Sonene are the two main near-by destinations, both serviced by an assortment of jungle lodges. Tours from these sites typically range from two days to week-long Amazon adventures!
Another of Peru’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the beautiful city of Lima was founded in the 1500s and, despite many of its original structures being destroyed, it still holds great historical significance. It is also a truly beautiful place to wander around.
Lima’s main square, the Plaza de Armas, is in the heart of the historical district. Following a devastating earthquake in 1746, the majority of the structures have been rebuilt. Highlights include the cathedral and Government Palace. Also of interest are the Casa del Oidor and the Archbishop’s Palace.
Between these attractions and more, Lima is a gorgeous city to spend the day wandering, with shops, restaurants and plenty of opportunities to sit and people-watch!
The sand dunes of Huacachina
For sportier types, the oasis resort of Huacachina, located on the outskirts of Ica, is the perfect destination to blend into your Peru explorations. This palm-fringed, picture-perfect town around a lagoon is surrounded by huge sand dunes, some reaching up to 1,000 meters in height.
People come here to try their hand at sand boarding – a sport similar to snowboarding but involving surfing down sand dunes. For the less daring visitors, renting dune buggies is a fun way to enjoy this unique landscape.
Dune buggy and sandboarding day tours are available and customizable to whichever activity your party is into. This can be a great day out to break up your historical explorations with a bit of a thrill.
There are many more attractions on offer while visiting Peru and it’s well worth making a solid plan before arriving, to ensure you don’t miss out on anything you’d particularly love. Peru is jam-packed with adventure, and with a little planning, it will be the trip of a lifetime, no doubt. Enjoy!