Peru is an incredible place to visit, with everything from stunning ancient Incan ruins to stark impressive deserts and colorful sunsets on the beach.
The country is small in comparison to some other South American countries, so it’s easy to get around.
Plus, they have a decent bus system and better paved roads than some…
Because Peru is such a popular tourist destination, they have a great infrastructure set up already.
This makes it easy for visitors to navigate their way around.
Because let’s be real, being in a new place, especially a bus station, can be confusing as hell.
While there is a lot to see and do in Peru, (ahem Machu Picchu, I know) there are some things you definitely shouldn’t miss!
6 Adventures Not to Miss in Peru
1. Visiting Pisaq and Saksaywaman Ruins
Totally go to Macchu Picchu. It’s amazing.
But it gets all the glory and there are some other incredible Inca ruins in Peru.
- Pisaq is off the beaten path of highly traveled sights near Cusco, and it’s less than an hour away. The village (of the same name) is adorable and full of markets if hiking isn’t your thing.
These ruins are amazing, especially if you keep hiking along the path, which continues all the way back down into the village.
Always agree on a price BEFORE getting in a taxi to take you to the entrance of the Pisaq ruins. Make sure you agree on a price to the beginning of the trail NOT the check point where they ask for your ticket!
- Saksaywaman (pronounced just like you think 😉 ) is actually in Cusco itself. It’s about a 2 kilometer, or 1.25 miles, walk from downtown up to the top of the hill. Ask anyone where the path is, and they will point you in the right direction.
These ruins were absolutely outrageously amazing. These were the biggest stones I saw anywhere in Peru, and had beautifully maintained architecture.
You can buy a Cusco Tourist Ticket, which includes entrance to Saksaywaman. Or you can keep walking past the ticket booth on the trail and loop around the back and enter for free.
Tickets are expensive in Peru. Just saying…
2. Sand Boarding in Huacachina
This is an oasis in the middle of sand dunes. It’s tiiinnny, you can basically walk the entire place in about 10 minutes.
You can come here to relax and do nothing, which is always a good use of time (in my opinion).
But the main attraction is sand boarding on the dunes. There are a few smaller hills overlooking the oasis, where you can practice if you are up to it. But booking a tour is really the way to go.
It’s ridiculously fun. The dune buggy drivers go flying around the dunes like madmen. All you can see is sand for an eternity. Sand boarding itself is really difficult, but you can slide down on your butt instead.
You will need to take a taxi from Ica to reach Huacachina, as there are no direct bus routes to the oasis. Also, your shoes will be filled with sand by the end of the day sand boarding. Fair warning.
3. Biking to Paracas National Park
When I first arrived to Paracas, I was unimpressed by the beach and the town in general. I thought, I’ve made a huge mistake.
But after making a few friends at a hostel, we decided to bike to the national park the next day. Then I understood why people visit this place!
The park was a desert for ages then BOOM ocean. Cliffs. Pelicans. Waves. Red beaches, rocky beaches and beautiful blue water. The biking wasn’t so easy so we didn’t see the entire park, but we had a lovely seafood lunch overlooking the water.
It is incredible biking around, feeling like you are in the middle of nowhere.
You can rent bikes in several places in town, but make sure to ride the bike and test the brakes before you leave for the day. I also recommend you leave early in the morning to start biking, as it can get incredibly hot by 9 am.
4. Test Your Limits on Santa Cruz Trek
This is the hardest thing I have ever done.
It was also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. After this experience, I feel almost invincible.
This hike takes you through the stunning Cordillera Blanca outside Huaraz in Peru. My travel companions and I decided to do this 4 day trek on our own without a guide or donkeys.
I don’t recommend that for the faint of heart. By which I mean I definitely cried at one point.
Reaching the summit at Punta Union at 4750 meters, or 15,583 feet, altitude was so euphoric, I wish I could bottle the feeling and sell it.
This may be the most beautiful place I visited in Peru, and if you are so inclined to challenge yourself and hike to the point of exhaustion, definitely add it to your list of things to do there.
If you decide to trek on your own, be sure to pack enough food and water for several days, as well as checking all your equipment before leaving. The trek starts in Vaqueria and ends in Cashapampa.
5. White Water Rafting the Apurimac River
On my travels, I met a lovely Israeli named Tom who told me about this awesome white water trip he took from Cusco. I love to raft, so I immediately went to plan the trip with a tour group.
I had never heard of this option in Peru before, and apparently no one else except people from Israel had either. My trip was myself, the guides and 16 citizens of Israel. They were all awesome, but it was slightly bizarre.
This 3-day trip is worth every penny. Rapids that get your heart pumping and sweeping valleys to catch your breath. You spend the nights camping next to the river while the tour guides make a delicious dinner.
At the end you can really scare the sh*t out of yourself and jump off a bridge before a final BBQ. If you haven’t had a enough adrenaline..
If you are not comfortable in class 5 rapids or sharing a tent with strangers, you can do a day trip on the upper part of the Urubamba River. This is accessible from Cusco as well, and features class 3 rapids.
6. Hiking into Colca Canyon:
This is the second deepest canyon in the world. IN THE WORLD. The deepest one is also in Peru but not as accessible.
The Canyon has a gorgeous river at the bottom, and gives you plenty of time while hiking down to reconsider your life choices. Like why you didn’t spend 10 more dollars on a decent pair of boots.
If you love to hike and to challenge yourself, this is an absolute must.
Most people visit the canyon on a tour, but you can absolutely do it alone (I did). You’ll leave from Arequipa, so just get a rough map and guide from one of the tourist agencies there. Or you can read my full adventure story.
I can’t wait to go back to this amazing country. Really, I’d go back just for the Pisco Sours and ceviche and be totally content.
Or just spend a week in Cusco doing nothing. I did that, and I don’t really know what I was doing the entire time. I think mostly drinking and eating.
Whether you have a week or a month, make sure to see as many corners of Peru as you can. You won’t be disappointed!
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