When most people visit the land of the Incas they do so with one thing in mind – Machu Picchu, the greatest of all the rediscovered “Lost Cities”, and an outstanding reward for all who complete the 3-day trek along the Inca trail to reach it. This is a fantastic trek that offers all you could ever wish for and don’t worry if you don’t speak the lingo, there will be a Latin American Spanish translator on hand to help you out during the tour.
But as fantastic as Machu Picchu is, it’s not the only reason to come and visit Peru. In fact, this mountainous and diverse South American country is home to hundreds of secret attractions for those who’re prepared to stay a little longer and check them out.
Hike up Huayna Picchu
First things first, before you leave Machu Picchu Huayna Picchu is the name of the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu’s ruins, and hiking up here is a much in-demand activity. As such, only a limited number of people are allowed to hike up it each day, so you’ll need to arrive early. At the end of the hike you’ll see the ruins from an entirely different perspective with a stunningly breathless birds-eye view. Be warned though, the hike isn’t an easy one – the hills are extremely steep and testing even for experienced hikers!
Visit Lima’s catacombs
The ancient catacombs underneath the streets of Lima offer and eerie yet mesmerizing experience for those who are brave enough to plumb the city’s depths. The catacombs offer a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past too, as it serves as a museum. They can be accessed via the San Francisco Monastery, and are just one of the attractions there.
The Sacred Valley Ruins
Machu Picchu is without a doubt Peru’s most famous site, but it’s far from being the only awesome set of Inca ruins in the country. Some of the favorites include the Chinceros, Ollantaytambo and Pisac sites at the Sacred Valley. Each one is unique, yet totally awe-inspiring!
The ancient city of Cusco can be seen via a tour, but the best way to explore it is to just go it alone and immerse yourself, wandering around the cobblestone streets. Being able to while away the time people watching and nosing around stores that double as people’s houses is an experience that you just can’t buy.
Lake Titicaca is located at the highest altitude of all the navigable lakes in the world. Straddling the border with Bolivia at an elevation of 3,812 metres, you’ll have to take it easy here to avoid suffering the worst of the altitude sickness. Still, it’s well worth a visit – the vivid blue lake is exceptionally clean and lies amid a stunning mountainous backdrop. It’s also home to several enormous man-made ‘islands’ of totura reeds that have to be seen to be believed.
If you love hiking you’ll love Colca Canyon. It’s a lot less well-travelled than the Inca trail but still a good place to meet other backpackers. The treks here offer some great views of the Andes mountains, and for those who’re too tired to walk, a horseback tour is a great alternative!
After all that trekking and wondering through ancient cities, what better way to recover your strength than by sipping a few cocktails and enjoying the sun, sand and surf for a few days?