Cusco – This historic capital sees approximately 2 million visitors a year however many just use it as a stepping stone to get to Machu Picchu. Take your time to embrace the city, visit the ruins, sit atop the double decker bus, shop at the markets, dine at the restaurants – there is so much culture and tradition to be found here that it would be a shame to miss out on it.
Pisac – Just a short ride from Cusco is the wonderful little town of Pisac, with a strong bohemian vibe. There are many quality eateries and accommodation options and it is well worth staying a night or two to check them out. Pisac has a slower pace than neighbouring Cusco, so you will have plenty of time to walk the ruins, visit the market, go for a hike, take a swim or just relax.
Ollantaytambo – Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu, whether you are choosing to walk the Inca Trail or take the train directly to Machu Picchu Pueblo. Not stopping to take in the sights as you pass by would be slightly remiss. It is a lovely town with some very interesting Inca ruins situated directly in the town centre and on the outskirts. You can choose to explore the town on foot or by even by horse if you are so inclined.
Puerto Maldonado – A 10 hour bus ride or a short plane flight away from Cusco, is the Amazonian jungle city of Puerto Maldonado. There are many tours on offer to explore the inner jungle area but for those staying in and around the town, we recommend a tour up the river to view the local wildlife and a trip to Mariposario Tambopata Butterfly Farm. While there aren’t many quality accommodation options available in Puerto Maldonado itself, you can’t go past The Anaconda Lodge. It features jungle style bungalows, a swimming pool to relax in and the in-house restaurant offers the best Thai food around.
Lake Titicaca – Again using Cusco as a base, you can easily head to the lakeside town of Puno. Most visitors don’t tend to spend a lot of time in town, instead opting to tour the largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca. You can visit many of the islands and even stay overnight on the island of Amantani to experience traditional island life. The islands of Uros, although extremely touristy, are fascinating to view as they are made entirely of reeds.
Arequipa – Known as the ‘white city’ because of the myriad of white buildings situated around the centre, the city is popular because of its locale to Colca Canyon, a canyon which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. You can choose to hike down into the canyon or stop by to view the Andean condors which call this region home. The Monasterio de Santa Catalina, the Museo Santuarios Andinos (home to the Ice Maiden Juanita) and the picturesque Plaza de Armas are worth visiting in Arequipa itself.
Nazca – You may or may not have heard of the Nazca Lines but if you have, these are not the only fascinating thing to see in Nazca. The Palpa Geoglyphs, the Cahuachi Pyramid and the Chauchilla cemetery are all worth a look as well although you may find it easier with a vehicle of some kind as there are quite a stretch of kilometres between these locations. There is so much history in one small area as well as a number of museums which look to provide some kind of background for the sites, that it is a must-see travel destination for those who love history and mystery.
Huacachina – A real life oasis in the desert and this is your chance to visit, but beware the mermaid in the lake, or so the legend goes. Mermaids aside, Huacachina is a great place to hang out by the pool, visit a winery and take on some of those sand dunes via a dune buggy ride. And be prepared, once you are at the top you will be presented with a sand board to make your way down the massive dunes where your designated driver will be waiting for you. Much fun in the sun to be had here.
Peru sounds amazing doesn’t it, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the wide variety of things you can do in Lima and the North of Peru. It’s a vast country, rich in history, with so many great experiences on offer. So what are you waiting for?