Peru is a country of contrasts, where ancient civilizations and lush rainforests collide with arid deserts and colourful mountains. It's a place where llamas roam the streets, and Machu Picchu reigns as the queen of all ancient ruins. But beyond the tourist hotspots, there's a whole other world waiting to be discovered.
If you're looking for an adventure, a cultural awakening, or just a good time, Peru has something for everyone. From the soaring peaks of the Andes to the depths of the Amazon rainforest, Peru is a country that will steal your heart and leave you longing for more.
So, grab your backpack and your sense of adventure, and join us on a journey through the stunning landscapes, and sites of Peru. Get ready to fall in love with Peru, because this country is a true gem in the heart of South America.
We start our Peru exploration in an obvious and very touristy location, but we cannot travel to Peru and not visit the famous Machu Picchu. The ancient Incan citadel is in the Andes Mountains in Cusco and is a breath-taking once-in-a-lifetime visit. Believed to have been built in the 15th century, it is an architectural masterpiece that has stood the test of time. There are many hiking trails to get to the site, but something often forgotten is that it is located deep in the beautiful cloud forest (also called the high jungle). The lush flora surrounding the citadel is as impressive as the citadel itself, boasting over 300 species of orchids, and a large variety of insects, other animals, and plants. You will also find Peru's famous Llamas at the site, though they have been domesticated and are a good photo-op, Llamas will do what Llamas do best, so beware of the spit!
Staying in the Cusco region for now, when it comes to travel hotspots in Peru, Rainbow Mountain is gaining a lot of traction. If Machu Picchu amazed you with its lush forest, abundant flora, ancient history, and a lot of tourists, Rainbow Mountain (or the mountain of seven colours) is close behind, drawing a third of the visitors of Machu Picchu. This increasingly popular site was only recently discovered due to the melting snow revealing the seven-coloured gem beneath. The lavender, turquoise, gold, and other colours displayed in the mountain are due to the concentrated sediments in the area giving the mountain its rainbow appearance. So, while the site is gaining popularity quickly, we can't help but agree with National Geographic when they named the site one of the 100 places to visit before you die. We do however urge you to visit sooner rather than later, so don't delay booking that flight, we know you want to!
Wait! Before you think this is just a mainstream blog of all the highly visited spots, introverts - we hear you. People, especially a lot of people at tourist spots can be very overwhelming. So, we present you with an alternative. Palcoyo Mountain offers striking views of 3 distinct rainbow-coloured mountains similar to Rainbow Mountain. While the view might not be as dramatic - you will be sure to find fewer visitors.
To showcase the contrasts of Peru, we were just in the lush forest and visited a multicoloured gem, but our next stop is a desert oasis. As with many unique sites, it has legends surrounding how it came to be. In this tiny desert town, you will find restaurants, bars, and hotels clustered around the shimmering lake in the town's centre. While the town can be enjoyed and explored, the dunes call for the adventurous and you should definitely venture out for dune-buggy racing and sandboarding. Full or half-day trips into the desert can also be arranged if you simply must enjoy the dunes a while longer. With scorching temperatures during the day and cold nights, it's best to apply sunscreen regularly but also bring a light jacket for when the sun sets.
For those seeking to get off the beaten path and visit a site that requires some determination to get to consider visiting Millpu Lagoons in Peru's Ayachucho Region. You will have to pay a small entrance fee to the community in the small town of Circamarca for accessing their lands, and it will be a 30-45 - minute hike to reach the pools. Once you arrive you will be greeted by around 20 stunning natural pools all with shimmering turquoise water. While the pools are perfect for a photo op, these glacial-fed pools are ice cold so you might want to reconsider taking a dip, even if they look perfect for swimming.
Our last stop on our journey is a little different and especially for the cat-lovers! In Kennedy Park, you will find some of Peru’s famous felines, that even have their own Facebook group. While nobody knows for sure how the cats came to populate the park, it has been speculated that the original Kennedy Park cats were mousers who escaped and set up shop in the park. Most of the cats are friendly and will happily submit to belly rubs and treats. Humane societies have intervened to spay and neuter the cats and they are adoptable too. So, if you want to spend a day loving on some cats, make your way to Kennedy Park.
Is Peru on your travel list yet? We think it should be - there is SO much more to explore!