Choosing how to spend your time in Peru can be challenging because it is such a large country with so much on offer.
However, we know that most of you probably have two weeks – not two months – and we can help craft the perfect itinerary to decide how best to use your time.
In normally all itineraries we would recommend the following highlights:
- Machu Picchu: Any first-time visitor cannot miss this iconic and incredibly well-preserved Inca site – we have many different options from a one-day visit via a scenic train route to a seven-day trek for the more intrepid travellers (and lots of options in between!)
- Sacred Valley: Located between Cuco and Machu Picchu the Sacred Valley is home to some of the best preserved Inca sites that lie in the shadows of dramatic, towering mountains, offering not only jaw-dropping scenery but splendid walks and outdoor activities. Cultural highlights include the Salt Pans, the textile community of Chinchero and impressive ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac.
- Cusco: This UNESCO city and heritage centre of South America, which was Peru’s capital in Inca times, is unmissable. Aside from the tremendous Inca foundations which line the city’s streets and the sheer number and scale of Spanish colonial churches built in the sixteenth century, this is the place to get lost in the historic, winding streets which are full of colourful shops, independent boutiques and fantastic restaurants.
Once you’ve got these staples into your tour, which you would need a minimum of one week for, you will have time to build in some wonderful extra destinations. These will large depend on your interests as every trip is tailored differently but we have some additional highlights below for your second week – or more!
- Lima: A foodie paradise! Something of an up and going city, Lima is home to an array of award-winning restaurants and eateries that showcase the best of Peruvian food. There are numerous art galleries and the important Larco Museum as well as pretty neighbourhoods with colonial architecture. Lima is often omitted from itineraries but if you like your food we strongly recommend you have a night or two in the capital, especially since you will probably be flying in and out of here.
- The Amazon: One for the nature lovers! If you love animals your trip to Peru will be complete with two or three nights in the Amazon where you can see red howler monkeys, caymans, a plethora of birdlife, amphibians and reptiles. There are two main options in the Peruvian Amazon; Puerto Maldonado is home to some delightful cabanas with easy access into the surrounding jungle by foot and small boats whereas Iquitos is on the vast and mighty Amazon river and best explored on a luxury cruise.
- Lake Titicaca (Puno): A visit to the world’s highest lake is the perfect place to relax whilst enjoying the natural beauty of this vast expanse of water in what can otherwise be a busy itinerary. Home to several different indigenous groups it is a fascinating opportunity to learn about different cultures and ways of life within Peru. We will try and mix your time between such visits to these communities whilst giving you plenty of time to kick back and relax with little but the water to entertain you. What’s more the journey here (from Cusco or onto Colca) is incredibly beautiful with stunning and changing scenery along the way.
- The Colca Canyon & Arequipa: The Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world and home to some of Peru’s most impressive landscapes and high altitude scenery. It is home to a plethora of wild lamas, alpacas and vicuñas as well as Condors, not to mention the natural hot springs that make it the perfect place to unwind for a night a two and re-connect with nature. Meanwhile nearby Arequipa is probably our favourite city in Peru. Surrounded by 3 volcanoes and home to beautiful baroque buildings and an endless, sprawling historic monastery, you would want at least two nights here.
- Paracas & The Nazca Lines: This is the place to head if you want to do something a little different; head to Paracas for the impressive sand dunes of Peru where it is all about trying your hand at sand-boarding before taking a small private plane over the impressive Nazca Lines, about 300 pre-Colombian images etched from more than 10,000 lines into the desert sands.
- The North of Peru: This is normally on an itinerary for a second-visit to the country but if you have a huge passion for archaeological sites then you may wish to build this into your trip. Please do contact us for more detail on how best to fit this into your holiday.
We know, it’s a little daunting, and hard to know where to start. But that’s why we’ve spent months in this country – so we can help you plan exactly how to spend your weeks here. Take a peek at our online itineraries to see how some of these places are connected – or just give us a call 0207 112 0019 – our expertise and advice is completely free!