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Lonely Planet Peru

Lonely Planet Peru

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Lonely Planet Peru

3/5 (25 оценки)
1,602 pages
14 hours
Jun 1, 2019


Lonely Planet: The world's number one travel guide publisher*

Lonely Planet's Peru is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Trek the ancient Inca trail, puzzle over the mystery of the Nazca lines, and wander the stone temples of Machu Picchu and indulge in local delicacies in Lima - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Peru and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Peru:

  • Full-colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights provide a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, art, food, drink, sport, politics
  • Covers Lima, Amazon Basin, Huaras, Cordilleras, Central Highlands, Chan Chan, Cuzco & the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Canyon Country and more.

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Peru is our most comprehensive guide to Peru, and is perfect for discovering both popular and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveler since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travelers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, video, 14 languages, nine international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more.

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eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

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  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
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Important Notice: The digital edition of this book may not contain all of the images found in the physical edition.

Jun 1, 2019

Об авторе

Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 100 million books. The guides are printed in nine different languages; English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Korean. Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and get to the heart of a place via guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, an award-winning website and magazine, a range of mobile and digital travel products and a dedicated traveller community.

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Lonely Planet Peru - Lonely Planet




Welcome to Peru

Peru’s Top 20

Need to Know

First Time Peru

What’s New

If You Like…

Month by Month


Peru Outdoors

Trekking the Inca Trail

Travel with Children

Regions at a Glance







Festivals & Events



Drinking & Nightlife



Around Lima


Southern Beaches

Carretera Central


Cerro Azul




Paracas (El Chaco)



Nazca & Around








Canyon Country

Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca

Cañón del Colca

El Valle de los Volcanes

Cañón del Cotahuasi






Around Puno

Lake Titicaca’s Islands

Capachica Peninsula & Around

South-Shore Towns

Bolivian Shore



Around Cuzco





The Sacred Valley


Pisac to Urubamba


Salineras de Maras


Moray & Maras


Machu Picchu & the Inca Trail

Aguas Calientes

Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail

Cuzco to Puno



Cuzco to the Jungle

Cuzco to Ivochote

Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado

Cuzco to the Central Highlands

Cuzco to Abancay




Andean Cuisine


The North

Canta & Obrajillo

Cerro de Pasco


La Unión

Tingo María

Lima to Tarma

San Pedro de Casta & Marcahuasi


Río Mantaro Valley




The Southern Valleys









Around Trujillo


Puerto Chicama (Puerto Malabrigo)



Around Chiclayo


Playa Lobitos

Cabo Blanco


Punta Sal



Puerto Pizarro



The Cordilleras

Cordillera Blanca

Cordillera Huayhuash

Cordillera Negra

North of Huaraz





South of Huaraz



Callejón de Conchucos

Chavín de Huántar





Around Cajamarca





Gran Vilaya


La Jalca (Jalca Grande)




Pedro Ruíz





Southern Amazon

Puerto Maldonado

Around Puerto Maldonado

Río Tambopata

Río Madre de Dios

Lago Sandoval

Lago Valencia

Río Heath

Manu Area

Cuzco to Manu

Parque Nacional Manu

Central Amazon

San Ramón & La Merced




Northern Amazon




Around Iquitos


Peru Today


Life in Peru

Peru’s Cuisine

Ancient Peru

Indigenous Peru

Music & the Arts

The Natural World


Directory A–Z

Accessible Travel


Customs Regulations


Embassies & Consulates


Internet Access

Language Courses

Legal Matters

LGBT+ Travelers




Public Holidays

Safe Travel




Tourist Information



Women Travelers



Getting There & Away

Getting Around



Behind the Scenes

Our Writers

Welcome to Peru

Peru is as complex as its most intricate and exquisite weavings. Festivals mark ancient rites, the urban vanguard fuels innovation and nature bestows splendid diversity.

All Things Ancient

Visitors flock to the glorious Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, yet this feted site is just a flash in a 5000-year history of Peruvian settlement. Explore the dusty remnants of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian ruins in all the Americas. Fly over the puzzling geoglyphs etched into the arid earth at Nazca. Or venture into the rugged wilds that surround the enduring fortress of Kuélap. Lima’s great museums reveal in full detail the sophistication, skill and passion of these lost civilizations. Visit remote communities and see how old ways live on. Immerse yourself, and you’ll leave Peru a little closer to the past.

Pleasure & the Palate

One existential question haunts all Peruvians: what to eat? Ceviche with slivers of fiery chili and corn, slow-simmered stews, velvety Amazonian chocolate – in the capital of Latin American cooking, the choices dazzle. Great geographic and cultural diversity has brought ingredients ranging from highland tubers to tropical jungle fruits to a complex cuisine with Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influences. Explore the bounty of food markets. Sample grilled anticuchos (beef skewers) on the street corners and splurge a little on exquisite novoandina (New Andean cuisine).

Oh, Adventure

From downtown Lima to smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, this vast country is a paradise for the active traveler. Giant sand dunes, chiseled peaks and Pacific breaks lie just a few heartbeats away from the capital’s rush-hour traffic, and all the usual suspects – rafting, paragliding, ziplines and bike trails – are present. Spot scarlet macaws in the Amazon or catch the sunset over ancient ruins. Take this big place in small bites and don’t rush. Delays happen. Festivals can swallow you whole for days. And you’ll realize: in Peru the adventure usually lies in getting there.

Life is a Carnival

Welcome to a place of mythical beliefs where ancient pageants unwind to the tune of booming brass bands. Peru’s rich cultural heritage is never more real and visceral than when you are immersed streetside in the swirling madness of a festival. Deities of old are reincarnated as Christian saints, pilgrims climb mountains in the dead of night and icons are paraded through crowded plazas as once were the mummies of Inca rulers. History is potent here and still pulsing, and there is no better way to experience it.

Ceviche (raw seafood marinated in lime juice) | LARISA BLINOVA/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Why I Love Peru

By Carolyn McCarthy, Writer

For me, Peru is the molten core of South America. It’s a distillation of the oldest traditions, with the finest building, weaving and art made by the most sophisticated cultures on the continent. In Peru the wildest landscapes – from frozen Andean peaks to the deep Amazon – help us reforge our connection to the natural world. It is also a cultural stew, where diverse peoples live side by side, negotiating modern life with humor and aplomb. And then there’s the cuisine, which alone makes it worth the trip. Every return is rich and satisfying.

For more, see Our Writers

Peru’s Top 20

Machu Picchu

A fantastic Inca citadel lost to the world until its rediscovery in the early 20th century, Machu Picchu stands as a ruin among ruins. With its emerald terraces, backed by steep peaks and Andean ridges that echo on the horizon, the sight simply surpasses the imagination. Beautiful it is. This marvel of engineering has withstood six centuries of earthquakes, foreign invasion and howling weather. Discover it for yourself, wander through its stone temples, and scale the dizzying heights of Wayna Picchu.

GO GA/500PX ©

Top Experiences

Floating Reed Islands, Lake Titicaca

Less a lake than a highland ocean, the Titicaca area is home to fantastical sights, but none more so than the surreal floating islands crafted entirely of tightly woven totora reeds. Centuries ago, the Uros people constructed the Islas Uros in order to escape more aggressive mainland ethnic groups, such as the Incas. The reeds require near-constant renovation and are also used to build thatched homes, elegant boats and even archways and children’s swing sets. See this wonder for yourself with a homestay visit that includes fishing and learning traditional customs.


Top Experiences

Hiking in the Cordillera Blanca

The dramatic peaks of the Cordillera Blanca stand sentinel over Huaraz and the surrounding region like an imposing granite Republican Guard. The range is the highest outside of the Himalayas, and 16 of its ostentatious summits breach 6000m, making it the continent’s most challenging collection of summits-in-waiting. Glacial lakes, massive Puya raimondii plants and shards of sky-pointed rock all culminate in Parque Nacional Huascarán, where the Santa Cruz Trek rewards the ambitious with a living museum of razor-sharp peaks.


Top Experiences

Colonial Arequipa

Peru’s second-largest metropolis bridges the historical gap between the Inca glories of Cuzco and the modernity of Lima. Crowned by some dazzling baroque-mestizo architecture hewn out of the local sillar (white volcanic rock), Arequipa is primarily a Spanish colonial city that hasn’t strayed far from its original conception. Its ethereal natural setting, amid snoozing volcanoes and the high pampa, is complemented by a 400-year-old monastery, a huge cathedral and some interesting Peruvian fusion cuisine.


Top Experiences

Parque Nacional Manu

Traverse three climatic zones from Andean mountains to mist-swathed cloud forest on the lower slopes en route to the bowels of the jungle in Parque Nacional Manu, the Amazon’s most awe-inspiring adventure. Manu has long been Peru’s best-protected wilderness, brimming with opportunities to see fabled jungle creatures, such as the anaconda, tapir, jaguar and thousands of macaws festooning clay licks with their colors. In this deep forest, tribespeople live as they have for centuries, with barely any contact with the outside world.


Top Experiences

Inca Trail

The continent’s most famous pedestrian roadway, the Inca Trail snakes 43km, up stone steps and through thick cloud forest mists. A true pilgrimage, the four- to five-day trek ends at the famous Intipunku (Sun Gate) where trekkers get their first glimpse of the extravagant ruins at Machu Picchu. While there are countless ancient roads all over Peru, the Inca Trail, with its mix of majestic views, staggering mountain passes and clusters of ruins, remains the favorite of travelers.


Top Experiences


With ancient cobblestone streets, grandiose baroque churches and the remnants of Inca temples, no city looms larger in Andean history than Cuzco. Once the capital of the Inca empire, tourist-thronged Cuzco also serves as the gateway to Machu Picchu. Mystic, commercial and chaotic, this unique city is still a stunner. Where else would you find ornately dressed women walking their llamas on leashes, a museum for magical plants, and the wildest nightlife in the high Andes?


Top Experiences

Lima Cuisine

Some cities are known for their parks, or even their politics, but Lima is a city where life is often planned around the next meal. The coastal capital is replete with options ranging from street carts to haute cuisine restaurants offering exquisite interpretations of Peru’s unique fusion cuisine. Dishes are a complex blend of Spanish, indigenous, African, Chinese and Japanese influences. There’s a reason that Lima’s chefs and restaurants are feted in gourmet magazines, in world restaurant rankings and with international awards.


Top Experiences

The Sacred Valley

Ragtag Andean villages, crumbling Inca military outposts and ancient agricultural terraces are linked by the Río Urubamba as it curves and widens, coursing through the Sacred Valley. A strategic location between Cuzco and Machu Picchu makes this picturesque destination an ideal base to explore the area’s famed markets and ruins. Accommodations range from inviting inns to top resorts, and adventure options include horseback riding, rafting and treks that take you through remote weaving and agricultural villages.


Top Experiences

Nazca Lines

Made by aliens? Laid out by prehistoric balloonists? Conceived as a giant astronomical chart? No two evaluations of Southern Peru’s giant geoglyphs, communally known as the Nazca Lines, are ever the same. The mysteries have been drawing in outsiders since the 1940s when German archaeologist Maria Reiche devoted half her life to studying them. But neither Reiche nor subsequent archaeologists have been able to fully crack the code. The lines remain unfathomed, enigmatic and loaded with historic intrigue, inspiring awe in all who pass.


Top Experiences

Semana Santa in Ayacucho

As if a week wasn’t enough for a party, Ayacucho’s Semana Santa lasts 10 days (from the Friday before Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday). The religious spectacle is moving, with vivid re-enactments of scenes, including the procession of Christ on a donkey through streets of flowers and palm fronds. But the aftershow parties are the highlight. Fairs, feasts and spectacular predawn fireworks take place on Easter Sunday after a Saturday during which it is believed that, since Christ died on Friday and rose again on Sunday, no sin can be committed.


Top Experiences


With a newly installed cable car providing a spectacular entry point to this giant fortress city, Kuélap has stepped out of the shadow of Machu Picchu and made its sophisticated pre-Inca ruins more accessible. Tucked away deep in forested territory at 3100m above the Río Urubamba near Chachapoyas, this remarkably preserved citadel is a testament to the enigmatic and strong-willed ‘People of the Clouds.’ Some 400 circular dwellings, some ornately adorned and surrounded by a towering rock wall, highlight this beautiful and mysterious stone beast in the clouds.


Top Experiences

Islas Ballestas

A collection of barren, guano-covered rocks protruding out of the Pacific Ocean, the Islas Ballestas support an extraordinary ecosystem of birds, sea mammals and fish (most notably anchovies). They also represent one of Peru’s most successful conservation projects; guano is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture while the archipelago is protected in a national reserve. Boat trips around the island’s cliffs and arches allow close encounters with barking sea lions, huddled Humboldt penguins and tens of thousands of birds.


Top Experiences


Rising from the sand-strewn desert like a kaleidoscopic mirage of color, old Trujillo boasts a dazzling display of preserved splendor. The city’s historical center is chock-full of elegant churches, mansions and otherwise unspoiled colonial constructions, which are steeped today in a modern motif that lends the city a lovely, livable feel. Tack on the vicinity of impressive Chimú ruins such as Chan Chan and Moche Huacas del Sol y de la Luna and Trujillo easily trumps its northern rivals in style and grace.


Top Experiences

Cañón del Colca

It’s deep, very deep, but the Colca Canyon is about far more than mere statistics. In an area colonized by pre-Inca, Inca and Spanish civilizations, the culture here is as alluring as the endless trekking possibilities. Stretching 100km from end to end and plunging over 3400m at its deepest part, the canyon has been embellished with terraced agricultural fields, pastoral villages, Spanish colonial churches and ruins that date back to pre-Inca times. Hike it, bike it, raft it or zip-line it, just keep your eyes peeled for the emblematic condors.


Top Experiences

Chavín de Huántar

The Unesco-recognized ruins of Chavín de Huántar were once a righteous ceremonial center. Today, the exceptional feat of engineering, dating between 1200 BC and 800 BC, features striking temple-like structures above ground and a labyrinthine complex of underground corridors, ducts and chambers that invite clambering through and exploring. Nearby, the outstanding Museo Nacional de Chavín, home to the lion’s share of the intricate and horrifyingly carved stone heads that once embellished Chavín’s walls, helps piece together the enigma.


Top Experiences

Lima Museums

Want to understand what Peru’s ancient civilizations were all about? Begin your trip here. A museum stop is invaluable to put into context your further explorations at the country’s incredible archeaological sites. Lima’s museums hold millennia’s worth of treasures, from sublime ceramics to breathtaking textiles. Some of the best collections are at Museo Larco, Museo Andrés del Castillo and the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historía del Perú. Extended evening hours at Museo Larco offer an alternative to conventional nightlife.


Top Experiences

Chan Chan

The extraordinary Chimú capital of Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest adobe city in the world. Once home to some 60,000 inhabitants and a trove of treasures, Chan Chan today is a work in progress. Tour the Palacio Nik An (also calledTschudi) complex, the only one of the 10 walled citadels within Chan Chan nearly restored to its former glory. Despite numerous weather-batterings over the years, courtesy of El Niño, Chan Chan’s ceremonial courtyards, decorative walls and labyrinthine audience rooms resonate resilience.


Top Experiences

Surfing on the North Coast

Surfers hell-bent on an endless summer flock to Peru’s north coast for the chance to catch some of the world’s longest and most consistent breaks. The coast’s surf scene culminates in rowdy Máncora, the country’s only tried- and-true beach resort and a hot spot for the Peruvian jet set. While Máncora draws surfers and party lovers for year-round fun in the sun and bathtub-warm waters, Punta Sal just to the north is the destination of choice for serious sand worshippers.


Top Experiences

Reserva Nacional Tambopata

Journey into the wildlife-rich Río Tambopata, a major tributary of the Río Madre de Dios, from Puerto Maldonado. Part of the draw is staying at some of the Peruvian Amazon’s best jungle lodges. The Reserva Nacional Tambopata offers a good chance of sighting bigger rainforest animals such as the tapir and the elusive jaguar. The bird-watching won’t disappoint either. Check out the chattering groups of macaws and colorful parrots feeding at clay licks.


Need to Know

For more information, see Survival Guide


Nuevo sol (S)


Spanish, Quechua, Aymara


Visas are generally not not required for travelers entering Peru.


ATMs widely available in larger towns and cities. Credit cards accepted in most establishments.

Cell Phones

In Lima and other larger cities you can buy SIM cards for unlocked phones for about S15. Credit can be purchased in pharmacies and supermarkets. Cell-phone reception may be poor in the mountains or jungle.


Eastern Standard Time (GMT/UTC minus five hours)

When to Go

High Season (Jun–Aug)

A Dry season in Andean highlands and eastern rainforest.

A Best time for festivals and highland sports, including treks.

A Busiest time due to North American and European holidays.

Shoulder (Sep–Nov & Mar–May)

A Spring and fall weather in the highlands.

A Ideal for less-crowded visits.

A September to November for good rainforest trekking.

Low Season (Dec–Feb)

A Rainy season in the highlands.

A The Inca Trail closes during February for cleanup.

A High season for the coast and beach activities.

A Very rainy in the Amazon, lasting through May.

Useful Websites

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/peru) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Latin America Network Information Center (www.lanic.utexas.edu/la/peru) Diverse, informative links including academic research.

Living in Peru (www.livinginperu.com) An English-language guide with articles and restaurant reviews.

Peru Reports (www.perureports.com) Alternative English-language news.

Peruvian Times (www.peruviantimes.com) The latest news, in English.

Expat Peru (www.expatperu.com) Useful for government offices and customs regulations.

Important Numbers

Exchange Rates

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than S190

A Inexpensive hotel room or dorm bed: S28–165

A Set lunches: less than S15; supermarkets have takeout

A Entry fee to historic sights: average S10

Midrange: S190–650

A Double room in midrange hotel: S85–435

A Main dish at midrange restaurant: S40

A Group tours: from S120

Top End: More than S650

A Double room in top-end hotel: from S250–435

A Private city tour: from S200 per person

A Fine restaurant dinner: from S60

Opening Hours

Hours are variable and liable to change, especially in small towns, where hours are irregular. Posted hours are a guideline. Lima has the most continuity of services. In other major cities, taxi drivers often know where the late-night stores and pharmacies are located.

Banks 9am–6pm Monday to Friday, some 9am–6pm Saturday

Restaurants 10am–10pm, many close 3pm–6pm

Museums Often close on Monday

Government offices and businesses 9am–5pm Monday to Friday

Shops 9am–6pm, some open Saturday

Arriving in Peru

Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez (Lima) Many flights arrive in the wee hours, so have a hotel booked ahead. Fast and safe, Airport Express has an hourly shuttle service with seven stops throughout Miraflores. There’s no bag limit and it has free wi-fi, USB chargers and bathrooms. Pay via the website or on the bus (cash). Combi (minibus) company La S (from S3 per person) runs various routes to Miraflores and beyond. Catch it by walking south of the airport along Av Elmer Faucett. A taxi costs S60 and takes 45 minutes to one hour (rush hour) to Miraflores, Barranco or San Isidro, faster for downtown Lima.

Getting Around

Peru has a constant procession of flights and buses connecting the country. Driving routes to the jungle have improved drastically. Note that poor weather conditions can result in canceled flights and buses. Strikes can be another obstacle in regional travel – consult travel experts on the routes you will be taking.

Public transportation in Peru is cheap, plentiful and frequent.

Light Rail Lima’s Metropolitano offers efficient, fast service to downtown.

Train Expensive and geared toward tourists.

Car Useful for traveling at your own pace, though cities can be difficult to navigate and secure parking is a must.

Bus Cheapest option with reclining seats on better long-distance buses.

Taxi A good option for sightseeing, shared taxis are common in the provinces.

For much more, see Getting Around

First Time Peru

For more information, see Survival Guide


A Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date

A Check the recommended vaccinations and medications

A Inform debit and credit card companies of travel plans

A Arrange appropriate travel insurance

A Charge devices, clear memory and cloud server and find appropriate adapters

A Check the airline baggage restrictions

A Reserve Inca Trail and Machu Picchu tickets

What to Pack

A Good walking shoes or boots

A First aid kit with blister care and rehydration salts

A Warm waterproof gear

A Essentials such as a Swiss Army knife, head lamp and duct tape

A Day pack

A Earplugs

A Toilet paper

A Chargers and adapter

Top Tips for Your Trip

A In the Cuzco area, start in the lower Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu and work up to Cuzco and higher sites to aid acclimatization.

A Book sightseeing flights over the Nazca Lines in advance to avoid waiting around in town for days on end. Try to get an early slot when conditions are calmer.

A Shop around for ATMs as fees vary. Banco de la Nación is usually the best for most cardholders.

A When you go to higher altitudes, don’t book tours for the first few days, stay hydrated and take hiking ascents gradually.

A Fly into Cuzco in the morning since afternoon flights can be cancelled due to high winds.

A Avoid the cheapest buses which often have safety issues.

What to Wear

Travelers to Peru can get away with casual clothing, but remember to pack for the different climates. For the Andes bring footwear that can tackle cobblestones and mountains, plus a rain jacket and warm layers, as it can be very chilly at altitude. Amazon travelers should presoak an outfit in permethrin for maximum mosquito protection and bring light, long-sleeve clothing and brimmed hats.


Peru has accommodations to suit every budget:

Hotels The most diverse lodging option, from budget to luxury. An overflow in touristy areas means they can be competitively priced.

Hostels Range from huge amenity-oriented party or boutique hostels to run-down backpacker places or family-run guesthouses.

Lodges Stately to rustic lodgings can be found anywhere from the mountains to the Amazon Basin.

Homestays Modest lodgings with families usually arranged through Spanish-language schools.

Camping Campgrounds are rare in Peru and generally not of great quality when you find them.


Peru has a bonanza of arts and crafts. Popular souvenirs include alpaca wool sweaters and scarves, woven textiles, ceramics, masks, gold and silver jewelry and the backpacker favorite: Inca Kola T-shirts. While Lima offers a wealth of crafts, highly specialized regional items may be difficult to find. Upscale stores may add a surcharge for credit card transactions.



Bargaining is the norm at street stalls and markets, where it’s cash only.


Restaurants Tip 10% for good service.

Porters and tour guides Tip each separately at the end of the trip.

Taxis Tip not required (unless drivers have assisted with heavy luggage).


Manners Peruvians are well-mannered. Transactions begin with a formal buenos días or buenas tardes.

Photos Ask before photographing people in indigenous communities – payment may be requested.

Antiquities It is illegal to buy pre-Columbian antiquities and take them out of Peru.


Cevicherías Lunch restaurants serving fresh fish marinated in lime juice, with many variations on the theme.

Picanterías Informal local restaurants serving hearty portions of Peruvian comfort food.

Novoandina restaurants Gourmet dining that updates old recipes with new techniques and flavor juxtapositions.

Pollerías Rotisserie chicken joints found just about everywhere.

Chifas Usually inexpensive Chinese restaurants, but this wouldn’t be Peru if they didn’t add their own twist.

Quintas Country-food restaurants serving Andean comfort foods like corn, potatoes and roasted cuy (guinea pig).

El Mercado Markets serving hearty soups and other comfort foods with brisk, no-nonsense counter service.

What’s New


The latest from world-class chef Virgilio Martínez, MIL is a masterpiece Sacred Valley restaurant and food lab overlooking the archaeological site of Moray.

Lima Airport Shuttle

The new Airport Express is a comfortable and cheap ride to Miraflores, with air-conditioning and wi-fi to boot.

Monumental Callao

Reviving a long-neglected port, Monumental Callao is a weekend hit, with hip limeños (inhabitants of Lima) frequenting the new restaurants, galleries and artists’ studios. There’s often rooftop parties with DJs and passageways of fine graffiti art.

Accessible Kuélap

In 2017, Kuélap opened a cable car, making the once hard-to-reach ruins tantalizingly accessible. Eight-berth cabins make a high-flying 4km journey up to the mystical archaeological site.

Canyoning in Chachapoyas

Peru’s northern highlands harbor a plethora of lofty waterfalls. To admire these off-the-radar cascades, it is now possible to organize guided canyoning trips out of the local adventure nexus of Chachapoyas.

Amazonian Cuisine

Peru’s rich culinary legacy is no secret, but the focus has recently shifted from well-known Lima dishes to unusual regional specialties concocted in the country’s Amazon region and exhibited in new gourmet restaurants, such as Natural in Tarapoto.

Titicaca Island Lodgings

It used to be that you had to rough it to visit the fascinating islands of Lake Titicaca, but new comfortable homestays are upping the ante of hospitality.

Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Moche

This museum in the town of Moche houses some 500 ceramic pieces from the Chavín, Chimu, Lambayeque and Moche cultures curated from a private collection.

Puerto Chicama

The renovation of this small surf town is charming, especially the new boardwalk that overlooks the action.


The White City is awash in new attractions, from the Casa Museo Mario Vargas Llosa, where the Nobel-Prize–winning writer spent his childhood, to Museo de la Catedral and Callejón del Solar, a charming restored neighborhood backstreet.

Community Tourism in the Amazon

At Lago Sandoval and in villages near Yarinacocha, there are plenty of options for homestays with local families.

Museo Julio C Tello

This Paracas museum was reinaugurated in 2016, having been closed following the 2007 earthquake.

For more recommendations and reviews, see lonelyplanet.com/peru

If You Like…

Ancient Ruins

Kuélap Perched atop a limestone mountain, this monumental stone-fortified city is the best-preserved site of Chachapoyas.

Cahuachi When in Nazca, it’s worth checking out these expansive 2000-year-old pyramids and other ancient buildings.

Chavín de Huántar Explore the maze of tunnels around the Castillo in these beguiling ruins.

Wari The capital of the empire that ruled the roost in the highlands before the Inca invaded.

Huanuco Viejo Ascend to the high plains above La Unión for an exploration of this extensive Inca settlement.

Caral From its stone pyramids to millennia-old bone flutes, routing through this ancient sight is chilling.

Marcahuamachuco Billed as the Machu Picchu of the north, this unexploited beauty is well worth exploring.

Caral archaeological site, Barranca | MARISA ESTIVILL/SHUTTERSTOCK ©


El Clásico The best trek in the Cañón del Colca for seeing a bit of everything – except a paved road.

Ausangate Amid tumbling glaciers and turquoise lakes the most challenging trek in the Cuzco region awaits.

Santa Cruz This five-day favorite journeys through Andean hamlets and valleys, with excellent views of Huascarán, Peru’s highest peak.

Lares Beautiful Andean landscapes are just a by-product, since the main draw here is remote village life in the Sacred Valley.

Quilcayhuanca–Cojup trek No crowds, no pack animals – just you and the spectacular peaks of the Cordillera Blanca on this very challenging trek.

Peruvian Delicacies

Cooking courses Learn from the masters in Arequipa.

Patarashca A seafood jungle dish cooked with tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, garlic and native cilantro, wrapped in a bijao leaf.

Chocolate Andean-style hot cocoa is spiked with chilies and honey at Choco Museo.

La Picanteria The best of Arequipa’s ultimate salt-of-the-earth restaurants emphasizes authenticity and spices.

Belén Mercado Grab a crash course in real Amazonian grub with a trip to this manic floating market – yes, ‘grub’ as in the insect larvae.

MIL Restaurant and food laboratory above the Moray ruins that is single-handedly bringing back ancient Andean foods.

Into the Wild

Potent scenery is not hard to find in Peru, where ecosystems range from parched desert to lush Amazonian rainforest and glaciated Andean peaks.

Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit A 10-day odyssey among alpine lakes with condors circling the 6000m peaks.

The source of the Amazon A three-day hike from the Colca Canyon to the genesis of the world’s longest river.

Cotahuasi A 12-hour road journey from Arequipa lies the world’s deepest canyon.

Choquequirao A remote sister site to Machu Picchu that requires four to five days of hard trekking.

Río Heath Parque Nacional Bahuaja-Sonene is one of Peru’s largest, wildest and most biodiverse regions.

Parque Nacional Manu See scores of animals, from kinkajous to giant anteaters, in this biodiversity haven.

Indigenous Cultures

In Peru, the traditions of indigenous cultures are easily witnessed in many religious or seasonal festivals.

Colca homestays Rustic homestays in the villages of Sibayo and Yanque offer a taste of rural canyon life.

Weaving villages Cuzco-based tour operators visit the more remote traditional villages around the Sacred Valley.

Nazca Beyond sighting the famous ‘Lines,’ the highly distinctive pottery also amazes.

Community tourism Live with locals in Amazonian villages at Lago Sandoval and near Yarinacocha.

Inti Raymi This ancient festival culminates in the Saqsayhuaman ruins above Cuzco.


This potent grape brandy is best known in sours, but new cocktails make it even more quaffable.

Bodega Tacama Lays on free tours and tastings at its lovely colonial hacienda.

Museo del Pisco A chic Cuzco bar with an huge list of piscos and cocktails that wow.

Lima bars Taste pisco sours at their source, El Bolivarcito, or sample exotic remixes at chic mansion Dada.

Lunahuaná Sip industrial-strength pisco at the Bodega Santa Maria – a day trip from Lima.

Chuncho Serves exquisite cocktails with sugarcane spirit Caña Alta, an up-and-coming pisco alternative.


Month by Month


Q’oyoriti, May/June

Semana Santa, March/April

Carnaval, February/March

Verano Negro, February/March

Fiesta de la Vendimia, March


January through March is the busiest (and most expensive) season on the coast, with beach facilities open and festivals rocking. In the mountains and canyons, this is rainy season, best avoided by trekkers and mountaineers.

z Año Nuevo

New Year’s Day, January 1, is particularly big in Huancayo, where a full-blown fiesta continues until Epiphany (January 6).

z Danza de los Negritos

In the town of Huánuco, revelers wear costumes with black masks to commemorate slave forefathers who worked the area mines.

z Fiesta de la Marinera

Trujillo’s national dance festival is held during the last week in January, with contest participants decked out in elaborate finery.


The Inca Trail is closed all month. Many Peruvian festivals echo the Roman Catholic calendar and are celebrated with great pageantry, especially in indigenous highland villages, where Catholic feast days are often linked with traditional agricultural festivals.

z La Virgen de la Candelaria

Held on February 2, this highland fiesta, also known as Candlemas, is particularly colorful around Puno, where folkloric music and dance celebrations last for two weeks.

z Carnaval

Held on the last few days before Lent (in February or March), this holiday is often celebrated with weeks of water fights, so be warned. It’s popular in the highlands – the Cajamarca festival is one of the biggest – and is also busy in the beach towns.

2 Lunahuaná Adventure Sports Festival

Lunahuaná has an active and growing adventure sports scene, especially river running. Check out this festival in late February/early March.


Beach resort prices go down and crowds disperse, though the coast remains sunny. Orchids bloom post–rainy season on the Inca Trail and Amazonian birds enact their mating rituals.

z Verano Negro

A must for anyone with an interest in Afro–Peruvian culture, this festival in Chincha features plenty of music and dancing. It takes place in late February or early March.

z Fiesta de la Vendimia

A big celebration in the south coast’s two main wine regions, Ica and Lunahuaná, these harvest festivals involve some grape stomping.


Crowds and high-season prices mark Holy Week, a boon of national tourism in March or April. Hotel prices spike to their highest and availability is low. Reserve well in advance.

z Semana Santa

The week before Easter Sunday, Holy Week is celebrated with spectacular religious processions almost daily; Ayacucho has the biggest celebration in Peru, lasting a full 10 days. Arequipa and Huancayo also have Easter processions.


By May the heaviest rains have passed, leaving the highlands lush and green. With the return of drier weather, the trekking season starts to take off in Huaraz and around Cuzco.

z Fiesta de la Cruces

This fascinating religious festival is held on May 3 in various locations including Lima, Apurímac, Ayacucho, Junín, Ica and Cuzco.

z Noche en Blanco

Inspired by Europe’s White Nights, the streets of Miraflores in Lima are closed to cars as arts, music and dance take over. Held in early May.

z Q’oyoriti

A fascinating indigenous pilgrimage to the holy mountain of Ausangate, outside Cuzco, in May or June. Though known by few outsiders, it’s well worth checking out.

z El Señor de Muruhuay

This big annual pilgrimage with an image of a crucified Christ happens in late May – with processions and fireworks to accompany the religious fervor.


High season for international tourism runs June through August, with Machu Picchu requiring advance reservations for train tickets and entry. It’s also the busiest time for festivals in and around Cuzco.

z Corpus Christi

Processions of this Catholic celebration in traditional Cuzco are especially dramatic. It’s held on the ninth Thursday after Easter.

z Inti Raymi

The Festival of the Sun is the greatest Inca festival, celebrating the winter solstice on June 24. It’s certainly the spectacle of the year in Cuzco, attracting thousands of Peruvian and foreign visitors. It’s also a big holiday in many jungle towns.

Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun), Cuzco | ROBERTO EPIFANIO/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

z San Juan

The feast of San Juan is all debauchery in Iquitos, where dancing, feasting and cockfights go on until the wee hours on the eve of the actual holiday of June 24.

z Selvámanos

Reggae, cumbia (a Colombian salsa-like dance and musical style) and electronica rock the jungle at this music festival held near Oxapampa in a spectacular national park setting.

2 Semana de Andinismo

Mountaineering aficionados descend on the city of Huaraz to celebrate the Andes with hikes, rock climbing, paragliding, skiing and concerts.

z San Pedro y San Pablo

The feasts of Sts Peter and Paul provide more fiestas on June 29, especially around Lima and in the highlands.

1 Spot the Marvelous Spatuletail

June is your best opportunity to spot this unique and endangered hummingbird in tracts of forest around the Río Utcubamba valley near Chachapoyas.

Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbird | GLENN BARTLEY/GETTY IMAGES ©


The continuation of high-season tourism. In Lima the weather is marked by garúa, a thick, grey sea mist that lingers over the city for the next few months and brings a chill.

z La Virgen del Carmen

Held on July 16, this holiday is mainly celebrated in the southern sierra – with Paucartambo and Pisac near Cuzco, and Pucará near Lake Titicaca being especially important centers.

z Fiesta del Santiago

Río Mantaro valley towns, especially Huancayo, dress up cattle and parade them through the streets. There’s also singing and dancing, in what many believe is an ancient fertility rite.

z Fiestas Patrias

The National Independence Days are celebrated nationwide on July 28 and 29; festivities in the southern sierra begin with the Feast of St James on July 25.


The last month of high tourist visitation throughout Peru is also typically the most crowded at Machu Picchu. Book reservations for lodging and site tickets well ahead.

2 Sierra Andina Mountain Trail

This annual marathon along the Santa Cruz trail to turquoise lakes under snowbound peaks provides hearty athletes with a super-scenic challenge.

z Feast of Santa Rosa de Lima

Commemorating the country’s first saint, major processions are held on August 30 in Lima, Arequipa and Junín to honor the patron saint of Lima and of the Americas.


Low season everywhere, September and October can still offer good weather to highland trekkers without the crowds, while migrating birds become another attraction for birders.

5 Mistura

For one week in September, this massive internationally acclaimed food festival is held in Lima, drawing up to half a million visitors to sample the country’s best restaurants and street food.

3 El Festival Internacional de la Primavera

Not to be missed – the International Spring Festival in Trujillo features supreme displays of horsemanship, as well as dancing and cultural celebrations during the last week of September.


The best time to hit the Amazon runs from September to November when drier weather results in better wildlife-watching and easier travel throughout the region.

2 Great Amazon River Raft Race

Attracting teams from the world over, the longest raft race in the world flows between Nauta and Iquitos in September or early October.

z La Virgen del Rosario

On October 4, this saint’s celebration comes to Lima, Apurímac, Arequipa and Cuzco. Its biggest event is held in Ancash, with a symbolic confrontation between Moors and Christians.

z El Señor de los Milagros

A major religious festival, the Lord of the Miracles celebration is held in Lima on October 18, around which time the bullfighting season starts.

z El Señor de Luren

Travel down to Ica in late October for this religious festival, which is marked by fireworks, processions and plenty of merriment.


A good month for festivals, with plenty of events to choose from. It’s worth checking out the wild celebrations held in Puno. Waves return, calling all surfers to the coast.

z Todos Santos

All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1. It’s a religious precursor with processions into the following day and Catholic Masses.

z Día de los Muertos

All Souls’ Day is celebrated on November 2 with gifts of food, drink and flowers taken to family graves. It’s especially colorful in the Andes where some of the ‘gift’ food and drink is consumed, and the atmosphere is festive rather than somber.

z Puno Week

Starting November 5, this week-long festival involves several days of spectacular costumes and street dancing to celebrate the legendary emergence of the first Inca, Manco Cápac.


Beach season returns with warmer Pacific temperatures. Skip the Amazon, where heavy rains start falling from the end of the month through early April.

z Fiesta de la Purísima Concepción

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 is a national holiday celebrated with religious processions in honor of the Virgin Mary.

3 La Virgen del Carmen de Chincha

Frenzied dancing and all-night music in the peñas (bars or clubs featuring live folkloric music) of El Carmen on December 27.


Greatest Hits Express


This strictly greatest-hits itinerary best suits those with only time enough for a first taste of Peru.

Start your journey in Lima; sleep in at cozy Barranco lodgings and find a ceviche restaurant for a leisurely seafood lunch with a touch of pisco. Follow it up by visiting museums in Lima Centro or by renting bikes to pedal the clifftops via the parks of Miraflores.

Fly early the next day to Cuzco, transferring immediately to the lower Sacred Valley to acclimatize for several days. Explore the market and ruins of Pisac, tour Moray and Maras, perhaps by mountain bike or on foot. With ancient Ollantaytambo as your base, take the train to Aguas Calientes for a day of exploration in the world-famous Inca citadel Machu Picchu. From here, take the train to Estación Poroy so you can spend your last day tripping the cobblestones of wonderful Cuzco, with museum visits, arts and crafts shops and great restaurants. If you can, squeeze in an evening visit to the planetarium.

Fly back to Lima for your final hurrah, with perhaps a food tour before checking out the club scene before you head back home.


The Gringo Trail


This trip hits some of the preeminent highlights of the continent incorporating an irresistible Peruvian potpourri of ancient ruins, rugged trekking and muscular colonial-era architecture.

Linger briefly in Lima before dragging yourself away from the gourmet restaurants and foggy clifftops of Miraflores to journey south to Pisco and Paracas, where you can boat to the wildlife-rich Islas Ballestas, lodging in Paracas. The nearby desert reserve with its archaeological remains and spectacular arid coastline will fill another day of quiet exploration. Then it’s on to Ica, Peru’s wine and pisco capital, and the palm-fringed, dune-lined oasis of Huacachina. Famous for sandboarding, this is a good place to overnight. Next is Nazca for a flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines.

Turn inland for the ‘White City’ of Arequipa, with its colonial architecture, excellent cuisine and giant monastic complex. Take a bus or car over the 4910m Paso de Patopampa for some trekking in the incredible Cañón del Colca with its ancient agricultural terraces or the remote Cañón del Cotahuasi, the world’s deepest. Alternatively, you can opt to climb El Misti, an almost perfectly symmetrical 5822m volcano. Continue upwards to Puno, Peru’s port on Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest commercially navigable lake. From here you can boat to traditional islands and explore the strange chullpas (ancient funerary towers) at Sillustani and Cutimbo. It is also possible to make a short (or long) visit to Bolivia by continuing on to the towns and islands on the lake’s southern shore.

Wind through the Andes to the former Inca capital of Cuzco, South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Bag a comfortable hotel, browse colorful markets and explore archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley, then trek to Machu Picchu via an adventurous alternative route. Creative options include a mixture of jungle hiking, mountain biking and even rafting.

Chullpa (funerary tower), Sillustani | SAIKO3P/SHUTTERSTOCK ©


The Best of Peru


If you’re set on getting a taste of everything, this whirlwind tour hits Peru’s top must-see attractions. Give yourself a full month to take it all in.

Conquer your jet lag by becoming acquainted with the exquisite tastes of Peru in the restaurants of Lima, strolling in parks and museums between meals. Head south through the coastal desert for a flyover of the Nazca Lines before arriving in stylish, cosmopolitan Arequipa, with its mysterious monasteries, deep canyons and smoking volcanoes.

Fly high into the Andes to reach the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco for a few days of acclimatization, exploring the cobblestone city and visiting Sacred Valley villages to check out colorful markets selling textiles, talismans and dozens of types of tubers. Then board the train to Machu Picchu, the most visited archaeological site in South America.

From Cuzco, fly to Puerto Maldonado (or brave the 10-hour bus ride) where you can kick back at a wildlife lodge along one of the mighty rivers of the Amazon Basin. Alternatively, take an overland tour from Cuzco to the Manu area, with remote tracts of virgin forest holding diverse animals, from kinkajous to caimans; it’s one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet. Another option for exploring the Amazonian selva (jungle) is to first fly back to Lima, then onward to Iquitos, a bustling port that will launch you deeper into the jungle.

Back in Lima, take a bus or fly north to the adventurers’ base camp of Huaraz, where a short trek will take you to the precipitous peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. A day trip to Chavín de Huántar will lead you to one of Peru’s oldest ancient sites. Head back down to the coast at Chimbote, then dash north to historic Trujillo, which offers spicy northern dishes, surrounded by a cornucopia of archaeological sites. These include the ruins of the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas, Chan Chan, and the fascinating Huacas del Sol y de la Luna. Finish up the journey by taking a seaside break at the bustling surf town of Máncora.



The Inca Heartland


Follow this trail to soak in the most potent Inca sites and the altiplano (Andean plateau).

From Lima, fly to Cuzco but travel to the lower Sacred Valley to spend your first few days acclimatizing to the altitude. Visit the bustling market of Pisac, see the ruins and ride horses at Moray and Maras. The best accommodations are in the quaint Inca village of Ollantaytambo, at a swanky valley resort or area B&B.

From Ollantaytambo, hike the town ruins in the morning or visit the cool salt pans of Salineras and take an afternoon train to Aguas Calientes. Enjoy a leisurely dinner and go to bed early to take the first bus to the great Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

The following morning, hop on the train to Cuzco. Now that you’re acclimatized, spend a few days enjoying the charms of this former Inca capital, taking a walking tour, visiting a few museums, admiring the splendors of Qorikancha, the Inca’s most spectacular temple, and enjoying the city’s outstanding cuisine.

Grab a comfortable tourist bus (or take the historic train) to the altiplano city of Puno. If you can coincide with a festival, this is the place to do it, with wild costumes, brass bands and fervent merriment. Otherwise, take in folkloric music at a dinner show or adventure to aquatic accommodations on the retired steamship Yavari.

From your base in Puno, the funerary towers of the Colla, Lupaca and Inca cultures can be found at Sillustani and Cutimbo, an easy day trip, and worth combining with lovely Lampa and its historic church. Take a boat tour of Lake Titicaca, visiting the famous reed islands and staying overnight in traditional family lodgings on Isla Amantaní. If you have a few extra days, take a catamaran tour, which also visits the Bolivian islands of Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna, landing you in Copacabana, from where you can take a tourist bus back to Puno. Returning to Puno, explore the rural coast of the Capachica Peninsula, home to places still steeped in the ancient traditions of the altiplano with nary another traveler in sight.

Get ready for the culture shock of big-city living, and fly back to Lima.


Exploring Amazonia


More than half of Peru is jungle, populated by spectacular wildlife and tribal peoples. Go overland and drop dramatically away from the eastern slopes of the Andes to slip deep into the Amazon Basin, which stretches all the way to the Atlantic. This entire itinerary takes a month, or it can be divided by region into one- or two-week segments.

The most popular excursion starts from Cuzco and heads to the Manu area, itself the size of a small country, albeit one with kingdoms of jungle lodges. Another option is to fly from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado and relax in a thatch-roofed bungalow with a view, either along the Río Madre de Dios, the gateway to lovely Lago Sandoval, or along the Río Tambopata, where a national reserve protects one of the country’s largest clay licks. The dry season (July and August) is traditionally the best time to return overland back to Cuzco, although the recent paving of this route means it’s now possible outside these months.

Alternatively, return to Lima and turn your focus to the north. The easiest way to get there is to fly from Lima to Pucallpa, a city experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and stay in a lodge or a bungalow in the nearby traveler hangout of Yarinacocha. The lovely oxbow lake is ringed by tribal villages. You can visit some of these, including those of the matriarchal Shipibo people, renowned for their pottery. Hardcore overland travelers can opt to reach Pucallpa from Lima via a multiday river trip to San Ramón, a coffee-growing settlement.

From Pucallpa, begin the classic slow riverboat journey north along the Río Ucayali to Iquitos, the world’s largest city with no road access. This northern jungle capital has a buoyant cultural and nightlife scene, a floating market and a bustling port, where you can catch a more comfortable cruise into Peru’s largest protected space, Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria. You can also access Iquitos flying from Cuzco. It’s also tempting to float over into Colombia or Brazil via the unique Tri-Border Zone.

It’s best to fly if your time is limited; if not, lose yourself for weeks on epic river and road journeys through jungle terrain. Bring bucketloads of patience and self-reliance – and a lot of luck never hurts.


North Coast


Explore beaches and ancient civilizations heading toward Ecuador.

Head north from Lima to Caral, where South America’s oldest known civilization arose. Further north, spy engravings of human sacrifice at Sechín and continue to Trujillo. Also see the Moche pyramids, the ruins of the once-mighty Chan Chan and the Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Moche. Off the beaches at Huanchaco surfers hit the breakers while local fishers trawl the coast. To the north, Puerto Chicama boasts one of the world’s longest left-hand breaks. The tiny town now has a wonderful new boardwalk overlooking the action.

Then on to Chiclayo, with world-class museums showcasing riches from the important archaeological site of Sipán. Craft-market hub Piura boasts great dining, while the witch doctors of Huancabamba are tucked into the Andes. Peru’s best beaches lie north, with resorts such as Colán, Máncora and Punta Sal; linger here to feast on seafood and dance the balmy nights away.

The journey ends at Tumbes, gateway to Ecuador and jumping-off point to Peru’s endangered mangrove swamps.


The Wild & Ancient North


Explore little-known highland ruins, ending up at the wonders of the Peruvian Amazon.

From Lima, head to Trujillo, sampling the fiery coastal cuisine and exploring nearby ruins at Chan Chan and Huacas del Sol y de la Luna. From here, take the freshly paved scenic highway to Cajamarca via the mountaintop ruins of Marcahuamachuco.

Cajamarca is where the conquistadors captured Inca Atahualpa. In the dry season, travel along the spectacular route to Celendín and Leimebamba to see the local museum displaying pre-Colombian mummies. Continue on to Chachapoyas where the cloud forest obscures the fantastic monolithic fortress of Kuélap.

From Chachapoyas, journey via Pedro Ruíz to Tarapoto, where you can hike in lush forest to waterfalls. Next, fly to the jungle city of Iquitos or continue via Yurimaguas, where cargo boats make the rugged two-day trip to Iquitos via the village of Lagunas, the western entry point to the Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria, for an unforgettable glimpse of the world’s greatest river basin. At Iquitos, you can arrange boat trips that go deeper into the rainforest and on to Brazil or Colombia.

Plan Your Trip

Peru Outdoors

Scale icy Andean peaks. Raft one of the world’s deepest canyons. Surf the heavenly Pacific curlers. Walk the flanks of a smoldering volcano known locally as a living deity. With its breathtaking, diverse landscapes, Peru is a natural adventure hub. So gear up and take the Band-Aids – you’re in for one wild ride.

Top Wildlife-Watching Spots

Parque Nacional Manu

Jaguars, tapirs and monkeys inhabit this expansive rainforest park, one of the continent’s wildest, deep in the Amazon.

Cañón del Colca

Andean condors glide over this rugged canyon, the second deepest in the world.

Islas Ballestas

Colonies of honking sea lions and penguins claim these rocky Pacific outcrops off Peru’s south coast.

Parque Nacional Huascarán

Giant Puya raimondii plants burst with flowers while vicuñas and viscachas bustle around the high alpine landscape of the Cordillera Blanca.


A rare mangrove forest on the northernmost coast, home to crocodiles, seabirds, flamingos and crabs.

Hiking & Trekking

Pack your hiking boots because the variety of trails in Peru is downright staggering. The main trekking centers are Cuzco and Arequipa in the southern Andes, and Huaraz in the north. Hikers will find many easily accessible trails around Peru’s archaeological ruins, which are also the final destinations for more challenging trekking routes.

History goes deep here – you may be hiking through terraced fields along ancient trade routes or trails used by Inca messengers. Yet even then, the fledgling status of some outdoor activities here means that, in certain times and places, you can get a whole mountain, sandy shore or complex of ruins to yourself.

Big plans are in the works for Qhapaq Ñan, the Inca road system which became a World Heritage Site in 2014. It spans a whopping 22,530km from Colombia to Chile and follows one of the most scenic routes possible, proving definitively that the Incas were master road builders. The trail sections above 4000m are in particularly good shape, thanks to a lack of interference. Tourism outfitters hope that the designation will spur investment into these often-neglected trails. SA Expeditions %in USA 1-415-549-8049; www.saexpeditions.com) operats a five-day route from Castillo to Huanuco Pampa and plans to add more. Look out for other new trekking opportunities on this route.

Peru’s most famous trek is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Limited permits mean this guided-only trek sells out months in advance. For those who haven’t planned so far in advance, there are worthwhile alternative routes. In addition, other possibilities around Cuzco include the spectacular six-day trek around the venerated Ausangate (6372m), which will take you over 5000m passes, through huge herds of alpacas and past tiny hamlets unchanged in centuries. Likewise, the isolated Inca site of Choquequirao is another intriguing destination for a trek.

In nearby Arequipa, you can go into some of the world’s deepest canyons – the world-famous Cañón del Colca and the Cañón del Cotahuasi. The scenery is guaranteed to knock you off your feet, and it’s easier going than some higher altitude destinations. During the wet season, when some Andean trekking routes are impassable, Colca is invitingly lush and green. It’s also the best place in Peru for DIY trekking between rural villages. The more remote and rugged Cañón del Cotahuasi is best visited with an experienced local guide and only during the dry season.

Outside Huaraz, the Cordillera Blanca can’t be beaten for vistas of rocky, snowcapped mountaintops, while the remote and rugged Cordillera Huayhuash is similarly stunning. The classic and favorite trekking route is the four-day journey from Llanganuco to Santa Cruz, where hardy mountaineers climb the 4760m Punta Union pass, surrounded by ice-clad peaks. Longer treks include the northern route around the dazzling Alpamayo, which requires at least a week. Shorter overnight trips in the area go to mountain base camps, alpine lakes and even along an old Inca road.

Cuzco and Huaraz (and, to a lesser degree, Arequipa) have outfitters that can provide equipment, guides and even arrieros (mule drivers). If you prefer to trek ultralight, you might want to buy your own gear, especially a sleeping bag, as old-generation rental items tend to be heavy. Whether you’ll need a guide depends on where you trek. Certain areas of Peru, such as along the Inca Trail, require guides; in other places, such as in the Cordillera Huayhuash, there have been muggings, so it’s best to be with a local. Thankfully, scores of other trekking routes are wonderfully DIY. Equip yourself with topographic maps for major routes in the nearest major gateway towns or, better yet, at the Instituto Geográfico Nacional

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