10 Interesting Things to Do in Peru: The Sacred Land of the Incas
Updated On: September 13, 2023
When someone says Peru, we spontaneously picture historic mountains where the Incan Empire came to life on the Machu Picchu. While the latter is not only the highlight of Peru but all of South America, there is so much to Peru than just that. This country receives much less propaganda than it really deserves. But, it’s a land where history, beauty, and culture meet.
The activities that you can take on while in Peru are countless. They range from walking through the historic areas, sand-boarding in the dunes, hiking the Machu Picchu or exploring the modern Peruvian cities.
The diversity of activities and attractions in Peru can be a little overwhelming. So, we created an exciting list to help plan your trip and make the most out of it. No matter what you choose to do, we assure you plenty of fun will be awaiting to fill your trip with euphoria. Check out this list of the best attractions to see and best activities to do for a merrymaking experience.
Observe the Wildlife of the Peruvian Amazonia
It is widely known that the Amazon Jungle occupies a huge portion of the South American Continent. Luckily, a large area of the renowned Amazon rainforest is included within the borders of Peru. No matter where you are in South America, the Amazon rainforest is an unmissable destination. So, prepare yourself to see some of nature’s splendors that cannot be found elsewhere.
The part of the Amazon included in Peru is widely known as Peruvian Amazonia. Interestingly, this part of the jungle is the most diverse section of them all. Taking a dive into the hot waters of the Amazon is a unique experience to try on. However, you can’t venture into the waters without a guide in order to avoid the risks that come with it.
There are different climates in Peru, and thus you will get to see different kinds of fruits growing on the trees of the Amazon. Not to mention the unique wildlife of this region, including the red-lored parrots. You will also enjoy your time with the sociable monkeys that like to hang out with the visitors. However, beware of their sticky fingers, for they enjoy stealing people’s belongings.
Walk the Inca Trail
Peru happens to be home to many trails where trekking is a popular activity to sightsee the country’s raw beauty. Yet, nothing beats the fascinating journey that you can embark on while taking the Inca trail, where you walk through history. To get there, you will need to take a train or hop on a bus from Cusco.
This hiking trail terminates at the renowned Machu Picchu. It is more like a route of pilgrimage that the Incans used to go through to reach to their empire. While it used to serve for religious and ceremonial purposes, modern people use this trail to observe the Peruvian beauty and learn about its history.
Fitness gurus like to go the extra mile, literally, by taking on the five-day journey along the ancient road. You don’t really have to do so if you don’t prefer or if you’re tight on time, but a one-day hike can be sufficient to see the stunning mountains that lead to the Incan Empire.
Hike to the Machu Picchu
A trip to Peru is never complete without seeing the Incan Empire of the Machu Picchu. The view of the stunning mountains is out that is truly out of the world. It’s one of the prominent attractions in Cusco that you shouldn’t miss. Many trails are available from which you can choose to take your path to the Machu Picchu, with the Inca Trail being the most popular.
Hiking to this ancient spot is suitable for everyone, whether hikers or sightseers. It also fits people from different fitness levels, so beginners can definitely barge in. There are also several attractions nearby that you can explore before getting started with your historic trip.
While trekking the narrow paths, you will be able to observe gorgeous landmarks, including the Andean mountains. You can also see the cloud forest, valley views, and the Incan ruins. Once you get to the top, you will instantly sense the historic breath of wind.
Trek the Rainbow Mountain
Some environmental conditions can wear forms of nature away yet result in fascinating creations. The Rainbow Mountain is one of the best attractions in Cusco in Peru where this theory can be applied. It’s also known as Vinicunca or Montaña de Colores, which means the Mountains of Colors.
This mountain features different colors, creating the beautiful hues that we see. Weathering and sedimentary deposits are to be blamed, or actually thanked, for the formation of the marble effect. Colors that the mountain features are red, turquoise, lavender, and gold with all their different hues.
Hiking to the top of this mountain is quite challenging. Not only is the area suitable for hiking, there are other activities, including walking and horseback riding. Those activities have drawn many people through the years. So, you will definitely come across other people while exploring the area. Thus, it is a great spot to socialize and come in contact with different cultures.
Explore the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley is another beautiful region in Peru, where the Andes Mountains beautifully embrace it. It’s another prominent attraction that you shouldn’t miss. This Andean valley lies north of Cusco in the Andes of Peru. It is a stunning landscape stretching along the Urubamba River. Some people call it by its former name, the Vilcamayo River.
Such a blend between the blue waters, green terrains, and fascinating mountains creates a picturesque sight that you wouldn’t want to take your eyes off. Beside the raw beauty of nature, the valley has several highlights that reflect the local culture of Peru.
These highlights include the mesmerizing towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. They both hold historic ruins and fortresses that trace back to the ancient times, revealing heavy layers of history. You can also take a stroll in the Sunday Market in Pisac town, where you can pick up some nice gifts for yourself or your family and friends back home.
Visit Lima’s Historic Center
When a landmark is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one that will definitely worth paying a visit for the prevalent significances they hold. Fortunately, Peru is home to more than a few UNESCO-declared landmarks. The capital city of Peru, Lima, is one of the fascinating cities to wander about, with its historic center being a prominent landmark and hot tourist destination.
Lima’s Historic Center is situated in the heart of the city in Plaza Mayor Square. Most of the buildings and structures you will see are ones that were rebuilt. Many of the original buildings in this area were destroyed during the ruinous earthquake of 1746.
The area observes the significant development of architecture. It is home to several architectural masterpieces that date to the colonial era. This region is perfect for history lovers and those eager to learn more about the past.
Surf Down the Sand Dunes of Huacachina
For those who like to feel the adrenaline pumping through their veins, this destination is totally for you. Huacachina is an oasis resort with beautiful, smooth dunes of sand, surrounding the whole resort town. It is situated on the outskirts of Ica, a beautiful city located in the Southern side of Peru.
In the middle of the vast sandy lands, there is a green oasis full of fringe palms. Needless to say, sandboarding is the most popular activity around here. Nothing beats the ecstasy that comes from sliding on the smooth sand and landing perfectly.
Besides, if you are not into sandboarding but would love to enjoy the sandy landscapes, buggies is the answer. Renting a buggy is a beautiful way to observe the spacious terrains while having an utmost fun.
Take A Boat Tour Through the Ballestas Islands
One of the great experiences that you can have in Peru is visiting the Ballestas Islands. This group of small islands is situated near the Peruvian town of Paracas. They fall on the southern coast of Peru where bizarre wildlife exists. The Paracas district attracts visitors for the splendid sights it holds, where you can watch the beautiful islands on a boat tour.
The rocky islands are home to a wide array of birds that you will be surprised to see. You will come across sea lions, pelicans, Inca terns, and penguins, known as Humboldt penguins. They gather at these coastal reserves as the conditions of the area helps bring fish to the surface of the waters. Thus, those ballestas islands are their feeding zones.
Cruising in a boat is the only way you can see this hidden part of Peru. No visitors are allowed to access the shore to preserve the existence of this wildlife. Only scientists and researchers can legally land on those islands for scientific purposes. So, do yourself a favor and go watch the diverse wildlife that live in that region of Peru.
Unravel the Mystery of the Sarcophagi of Karajia
Peru is home to many mysterious sites that reveal different cultures and empires that resided in the area centuries ago. One of the fascinating wonders of Peru that you should discover is the Chachapoyas culture that occupied the Sarcophagi of Karajia. The latter is a fascinating archaeological site found in the Utcubamba Valley, northwest of Chachapoyas city.
You don’t really have to be a history lover to be amazed by the mystery of this ancient culture. The Chachapoyas was a civilization that occupied ancient Peru between 900 A.D. and around 1470 A.D. They had great respect for the dead as much as those who were alive, especially the prominent figures that held a significance in their society, which is obvious in the way they built their burials.
That is exactly what the Sacrophagi of Karajia is about. They are tombs in the shape of a human being, tucked away in the rocky mountains. Besides getting to learn about the cultural beliefs of the Chachapoyas, you can also go on exciting adventures around here.
You shouldn’t miss venturing into the dark Quiocta Cavern. Sunlight never makes its way inside this cavern. Thus, visitors should always use a torch or the flashlights of their phones to examine the insides of this big cave. The cavern holds myriads of interesting rock formations that look quite nice when flashed with the lights.
Live an Outdoor Adventure at the Cordillera Blanca
The Cordillera Blanca is another beautiful mountain range that Peru offers to the world. It falls in the eastern section of the Andes, and is considered to be part of its range. The word “cordillera blanca” means “the white range,” given their snow capped peaks. This destination is perfect for adventure gurus as much as history lovers.
This area is one full of mountains and valleys. It makes for a perfect spot to hike, climb, and trek. The vast green valleys are quite eye-pleasing, especially at points where they blend with the crystal blue of the glacial lakes that complement the region. Many visitors also enjoy horse riding and mountain biking. These activities are not to be missed, for you will be observing some whimsical sights.
History lovers will also enjoy this region, for it is home to several ruins that date back to ancient cultures that preceded the Incan one. The best part is that accessing the Cordillera Blanca is quite easy. Most tours have Huaraz town as their starting point. There are also night buses that keep going to and leave from this area, giving you the opportunity to hop on one of them when you please.
South America is a great place to be, for it is home to the world’s most fascinating wonders. If you want to get the most out of this naturally beautiful continent, make sure Peru is your next destination.