Archive for May, 2011
Making a list of things you can’t do in Peru would be much easier than making one for all the things you can do here. Peru tourist attractions come in all shapes and sizes, and when you plan a Peru vacation, you will find that it isn’t hard to include a lot of them in one trip. Peru is a country that is blessed with a varying landscape of astounding beauty. You can spend a few days in a desert oasis resort; follow it up with an adventure in the Andes Mountains, then zip down into the Amazon Rainforest. With so many activities to do in Peru, it is not generally a destination where you are going to do a lot of sitting around. The following list of things to do in Peru only aims to give you some idea as to the range of possibilities.
Explore Inca Ruins
Most people who come to Peru are here first and foremost to visit the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, and not only is this sacred site the king of all Peru tourist attractions, but it is also the most visited site in all of South America. In the peak months of June-August, some 3,000 visitors visit Machu Picchu every day. The ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, is the base for most trips to Machu Picchu, and the ruins of the Inca fortresses in the towns of Ollantaytambo and Pisac are worth a visit as well. In Cusco, you can see Inca walls, which now serve as the bases of the more modern structures built atop them. The Sacred Valley (“Valle Sagrado” in Spanish) and the Cusco region aren’t the only place to see great Inca ruins. The northern highlands cities of Trujillo and Chiclayo have nearby the Tucume pyramids, some of which pertain to the Inca.
Shop at the Pisac Market
The Andean town of Pisac is not more than a short car ride from Cusco, and its Sunday market is perhaps the best handcraft market in the country. Native peoples from all over come in their traditional, colorful clothing. They bring their wares, hoping as well to find something interesting to acquire as well. All around the main square, the hundreds of booths sell everything from musical instruments to Alpaca wool sweaters. Tuesdays and Thursdays also see the Pisac market up and running, but neither of these days quite matches the Sunday affair in terms of atmosphere. Don’t forget to add a visit to the Inca ruins in Pisac before you head back to Cusco.
Trek the Inca Trail
Trekking, or Hiking, the Inca Trail is among the top things to do in Peru, and for good reason. Along the way, though it can sometimes get a tad technical, you are rewarded with stunning views of snow-capped mountains and encounters with Inca ruins. Of course, the end reward for your effort being Machu Picchu, it is no wonder this top Peru Tour remains a constant favorite. Generally, you can choose Inca Trail tours that cover 2, 4, 5, or 7 days. If you are looking for Inca Trail trekking tours, Cusco is the best place to start.
Climb the El Misti Volcano
Mountain climbing in Peru can be a challenging, but amazingly rewarding addition to your list of things to do in Peru. For experienced mountain climbers, there are some technical climbs here for sure, but if you are just looking for an easier climb, then El Misti might just be perfect. You can pretty much climb El Misti without any equipment year round, but at times it can have snow and ice on it, requiring the possible need for an ice ax and crampons. El Misti tops out at around 19,100 feet, so you will want to let your body adjust before you climb. Depending on each visitor’s level of fitness, making it to the volcano’s crater is usually a very good possibility. El Misti dominates the skyline of Arequipa, so basing yourself here before the climb is the norm.
Try Surfing in Peru
If you follow northward from Lima on up the Peru coast, you will find the best beaches in the country. Not only ideal for swimming and catching some rays, these beaches are also known for churning up some world-class waves. At Chicama, you will find the longest wave in the world. Near Lima, the 2008 international surf contest at Puntas Rocas goes to show the kinds of waves you can expect to find in Peru, but they aren’t all big and bad. Beginners can find spots where the waves are gentler, and the surfing easier to attempt. Surf tours with lessons are a good way to experience Peru surfing for beginners, and the more experienced will probably know what to do. In the northern departments of Tumbes and Piura, surfing can be enjoyed year round, thus making it a nice addition to your list of desired Peru tourist attractions. Peru’s beaches are best enjoyed from December to April.
Fly over the Nazca Lines
The Nazca civilization flourished in the Nazca region roughly from 300 BC until 800 AD. The town of Nazca is about 275 miles south of Lima, and it is found in one of the driest deserts on the planet. Due to the dry and relatively non-windy environment in the Nazca region, the amazing, and confounding lines that were created by the Nazca civilization are amazingly preserved. From the town of Nazca, and from the cities of Pisco and Ica, you can arrange to take one of the tours that flies you over the Nazca Lines, and since you can only see these impressive creations from above, this airborne Peru tour is pretty much the only way to go.
Drop into the deep Colca Canyon
Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon, which is located just 100 miles outside of Arequipa, is where flocks of tourists come to see the great Andean condors. The largest flying land birds on the planet, they are truly magnificent to see up close. You can also take guided hiking tours into the canyon, and the towns lining the north and south sides of it are a joy to bounce between, offering hostels and hotels and restaurants.
See the Abundance of Plant and Animal Life in the Amazon Jungle
If you want an experience that contrasts so distinctly from the rest of Peru, then you will make time to enjoy an expedition into Peru’s Amazon Rainforest. This is one of the top Peru tourist attractions for those with a sense of adventure. From Cusco, you can descend down the eastern slopes of the Andes and make way for the Manu National Park, and from Lima, you might fly to Iquitos, where you can arrange for a boat ride down the mighty Amazon River. A nice Peru tour to add to your itinerary might see you meeting local tribes’ people, or staying in a jungle lodge.