Then I first thought about booking a Peru Tours it was when I found out it was an option for study abroad my junior year.
But they didn’t tell us about the amazing Colca Canyon tours, or Paracas tours, and definitely not about the Nazca Lines tours.
So I didn’t go. I chose Madrid and I ended up being jealous.
And don’t get me wrong, Madrid is a beautiful city and I have memories I’ll never forget, but part of me wished I had made a different choice…
A more adventurous choice.
Most of my friends chose to go to South America instead and came back with all these crazy (good) stories of their boat rides out to see the Blue Footed Boobies or how they felt when they made it to the top on their Machu Picchu tours. Oh yeah, and how soon they were going to go back ‘cause they already missed it.
As for me, the most adventurous part of my study abroad experience was getting lost every day for a month on the metro…
So moral of the story is, if outdoor adventure through wild and diverse landscapes with amazing people is what you’re looking for, then vamos a PERU!
We’ve put together a complete list of the 8 BEST places to go and the many reasons why. With this many options; you can easily create a unique trip that fits your budget and travel style.
Which ones on this list sound up your alley?…
The hidden gem of Peru, Millpu Turquoise Lagoons Tour(@eyeofshe)
After you check out the Paracas Candelabra, here are some other options for Paracas tours that you don’t want to miss out on AND why:
1) Supay Beach or Playa Roja: If you didn’t take Spanish 1 in high school, Playa Roja literally means, “Red Beach”. Come to Playa Roja to marvel at the contrast of the aquamarine blue water rushing up the deep red sand, You’ll feel like you’re walking on the moon here! Another perk is that it’s usually pretty empty of other people so you won’t have to share the moment with a million other tourists. It’s definitely a photo-op!
Playa Roja of Paracas! (@maluveltze)
2) Ballestas Island – This is one of the most popular of the Paracas tours and for good reason. This is where you’ll get to check out all the amazing wildlife of the area. Keep your eyes out for penguins (yes, penguins!), sea lions, and many other coastal birds.
Sea Lions enjoy the day at Islas Ballestas
2. The World Famous & Mysterious Nazca Lines
I totally didn’t save the best for last… this one’s my favorite.
If you haven’t heard of taking a Nazca line tour, just imagine ancient cave drawings meet crop circles. No one is actually sure how they got there, but the story is that somewhere between 500 AD and 500 BC the Nazca people removed the red pebbles from the ground (that cover this area) to reveal the lighter ground underneath to make these designs.
Wonderful lines in Nazca
These designs are pretty huge, so the only way you can really see them is from an aerial view (plane or helicopter) OR there are certain spots in the foothills nearby that get you to a good vantage point. Nazca line tours will lead you to the best spots with the best views.
We’ll never be able to prove what they mean, but I’d like to think they were messages… to the gods? Aliens? Just for fun? The world may never know…
3. The Most Biodiverse Place On Earth!
Manu National Park in Peru is officially the most biodiverse protected place on the entire planet.
Just picture yourself walking through the Ceiba trees, the cloud forest towering above you, with the sound of the Macaws as your background music. On your left you see a group of bright blue Morpho butterflies dancing around (1 of 1,300 butterfly species here!) and on your right there’s a giant otter that has stuck around the area (even though it’s disappeared from other parts of the Amazon).
Do you like monkeys? <3
Many of these species are found nowhere else in the world, and here they are all in one place that you get to experience.
And in case you’re feeling extra adventurous, there are even jungle lodges you can stay in overnight. These are great if you do a night hike through the park, which completely changes after the sun goes down. (Lots of frogs and other critters come out to play!)
4. Rainbow Mountains In Cusco!
A Rainbow Mountain – Ausangate tour definitely is a MUST-see on your trip to Peru. Why? There’s no other mountain quite like it. If the gods had dropped a bag of skittles a million years ago, this is what it would look like.
Left: Classic Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) Vs- Right: Alternative Rainbow Mountain (Palccoyo)
There are shorter 1 day hike options, as well as the longer 6 day Ausangate Trek, which allows you to camp out next to bright blue lakes, take a dip in the hot springs, and see the untouched parts of Peru that most tourists never even get close to.
Oh yeah, and did I mention the herds of llamas and alpacas being raised in the area, and condors flying high above you?
With usually very few (if any) other travelers along the Ausangate Trek, you feel truly immersed in the wild landscape as if you’re a natural part of it, like no other tour can give you.
Just 1 hr. of trek, this is perfect for small groups! Alternative Rainbow Mountain Tour Palccoyo
Okay okay, I understand that the classic tour of the Rainbow Mountain tour is very tiring, a 5-hour walk is not very pleasant when you have to cross a height of 5030m (16.500 ft.). That is why there is a travel alternative, Palccoyo or Tres Rainbow Mountain Tour, it is a perfect itinerary where you will only make a 1-hour walk plus you can see 3 different colored mountains! Don’t think twice, if you are looking for privacy, small groups and landscapes just for you, this could be the perfect alternative.
5. Lord Of The Rings Level Hiking: The Cordillera Blanca
If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, then oh man, is Cordillera Blanca the PLACE TO BE.
You’ll literally feel like Frodo climbing through the mountains on your way to Mordor, except at the end of your trek you’ll be 6,000 meters high with panoramic views of the Andes and its many peaks and 722 glaciers.
Just remember, Cordillera Blanca means “white range” in Spanish, so expect cold, snow, and the incredible feeling of achievement when you get to the snowy top of these mountains. So far Huayhuash Trek Tour has be in your itinerary.
We recommend bringing a Sam along to make the trip more fun, and we’ll be your Gandalf, helping you plan your trip so you’re totally prepared!
Cordillera Huayhash – Peru (@allaboutadventures)
6. The Colonial City Of Arequipa
On an Arequipa tour you will undoubtedly meet Misti, Pichu Pichu, and Chachani. You literally see them everywhere you go in town.
Okay they aren’t people, they are the 3 large volcanoes that tower around the city and are the backdrop of every scene. They are impressive, and they give the city of Arequipa a feeling of grandeur, like the South American version of Mt. Vesuvius in Greece.
So no matter what your trip in Arequipa looks like, you’ll see the volcanos. But something you definitely must put on your list while you’re there is a Colca Canyon tour. Colca Canyon is about 160 kilometers from the city of Arequipa and it’s so worth the drive to say you’ve been to the deepest canyon in the world.
Welcome to the beautiful white city of Arequipa <3 (@maluveltze)
FUN FACT: Colca Canyon Is 2 Times As Deep As The Grand Canyon! – 3,270 Meters To Be Exact.
On your Colca Canyon tour you’ll be able to go rafting on the river, hopefully see one of the great local Condors, and check out the traditional villages that are older than the Incan empire.
7. Highest Navigable Lake In The World
Sitting a whopping 3,810 meters above sea level, Lake Titicaca is a site to behold. It’s literally the highest navigable (that means you can sail on it!) lake in the world, but what I think makes it even cooler isn’t how high up it is…
Connect with locals! Experience Peru by yourself!
It’s the fact that there are less than 20 ancient lakes left, and it is one of them.
Guess how old Lake Titicaca is…
Nope, not 50,000. Higher. Not 500,000 years old. Even higher.
Lake Titicaca is believed to be ONE MILLION years old. Whuuuut!
If that isn’t freaking amazing, I don’t know what is. Please, go check out Lake Titicaca and while you’re there, say hey to the Uros people. They live on floating islands made from interwoven ‘totora’ reeds that grow in the shallow part of the lake and are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.
8. The Lost City Of The Incas
We see pictures of Machu Picchu tours all the time and it’s on everyone’s travel list:
Climb Machu Picchu (@followthesuntravel)
Hopefully see some llamas too (@dan_a_t)
But before 1911 Machu Picchu tours weren’t even possible… because we didn’t even know it was there. Except for the few locals living in the area, nobody even knew about it after the Incas in the 1400s and 1500s. And that’s what makes it even more amazing.
Our favorite part of Machu Picchu tour: the MYSTERY.
Archeologists still aren’t totally sure what Machu Picchu was built for. Was it a religious site? A Mausoleum? A place to watch the stars?
We probably won’t ever know for sure.
But what we do know is that the Incas had amazing technical skills to build this beautiful place of over 3,000 steps made of stone and 150 different buildings (temples, bathhouses, canals, and more).
All aboard! Inka Rail is await! (@with.becks)
Not afraid of heights? (@yaxhio)
Now I know that was a lot of info, and it probably just made your list of go-to’s even longer. (My favorites are the Nazca Lines tour and Colca Canyon tour!)
As cheesy as it sounds, being in Peru makes you feel ALIVE and like you’re a part of history while you’re walking through the most biodiverse place on the planet and meeting communities as old or older than the Incas.
There is so much to do and see in Peru, on top of the classic Machu Picchu tours, but you can do a lot of these tours and treks on the same trip if you plan right. We’ve been to each place on this list and still want to go again… but we’d rather take you with us!
Let us help you plan so you can see the most on your trip as possible. Shoot us an email! click here -> to get your Custom South America tours, or check out our already-planned VSA South America tours <- here.
Are you ready for your next adventure? Let your travel amigos at Visit South America show you the best there is to see on this beautiful continent. We have year ‘round departure dates and tours to fit every travel style. Start packing your bags – click here to see our small group trips!