Peru is best known for its fascinating pre-Columbian history, breathtaking landscapes from the arid Pacific coast to the Amazon Rainforest, and inventive culinary scene. But did you know that the country is also home to some of the best adventure travel opportunities in South America?
In a trip as short as ten days, you can parasail over the Pacific in Lima and sandboard down the dunes of Huacachina. Explore the great biodiversity of the legendary Amazon Rainforest and summit Machu Picchu. If you have some more time to devote to your adventures in Peru, you shouldn’t think twice about embarking on a multi-day hike high in the Cordillera Blanca Mountain Range or conquering the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. If you’re looking for a diverse array of adventure focused destinations, Peru is the country for you. Below are a few of our most recommended Peru destinations for adventure:
Destination #1: Huaraz
Hike through the Cordillera Blanca Range
First on our list is Huaraz. Still considered off the beaten path compared to hiking hotspots in the Sacred Valley outside Cuzco, the Cordillera Blanca range in Peru’s western Andes offers an equally stunning experience for nature and adventure enthusiasts. The mountains sit in the Huascarán National Park. They make up the highest tropical range in the world and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 25 trails in the area, there is something for everyone. Options range from the 12 day/11 night Huayhuash Trek to the four-day/three-night Santa Cruz trek to day hikes to see the milky-blue waters of Laguna 69.
Destination #2: Iquitos
Unplug at an Amazon Treehouse Lodge
Relive your childhood dreams or make your children’s dreams come true with a stay at the Treehouse Lodge. This Treehouse Lodge is located in the Amazon Rainforest adjacent to Iquitos. As its name suggests, the lodge includes 11 enclosed sleeping spaces wrapped around a trunk. All placed high in the canopy of the Amazon Rainforest. Aside from these one-of-a-kind accommodations, you can expect a wide variety of activities during your stay. Including night hikes, piranha fishing, swimming in the Amazon River, and kayaking.
Destination #3: Cuzco
Embark on Alternative Machu Picchu Hikes
The Inca Trail is on the bucket list for many travelers itching to see Machu Picchu. But as the government regulates how many visitors are allowed on the trail each day, you may miss your chance. Fear not! There are several trails available that offer a less crowded, yet equally rewarding experience in the Sacred Valley.
Some of the most popular alternatives include the 5-day Salkantay trek and the 4-day Lares trek. Both options pass through traditional villages, rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, and subtropical forests before reaching the mighty Machu Picchu. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, there is also the 2-day/1-night Inca trail, which includes one full day of hiking and a day at the ruins. If you’re really pressed for time, you can skip the shuttle bus. Instead, climb your way to the top of Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. Make sure to bring a flashlight if you plan to make it to the top for sunrise as you’ll be making your ascent in the dark!
Destination #4: The Sacred Valley
Zipline over Archaeological Sites
If hiking isn’t your cup of tea or if you’re looking to acclimate to the altitude before embarking on a hike, a day of adventure in the Sacred Valley is the perfect answer. Twist and turn down Class III and IV rapids on the Urubamba River. Zipline over the Maras and Moray archaeological sites on the longest zip line in Peru. Or downhill bike alongside Incan Ruins. There’s also paragliding in the Sacred Valley if zip lining just doesn’t cut it. There is so much to see and do around Cuzco. So make sure you plan a few extra days to really experience it all.
Relax in the Sky at Sky Lodge
Another spectacular and unprecedented lodging option in Peru is the Sky Lodge in the Sacred Valley. Like the Treehouse Lodge, you will be sleeping high in the sky. However, here you will be suspended off the side of a mountain nearly 2,000 feet in the Andes. In order to reach your enclosed glass accommodations, you will have to hike using a pulley system of Via Ferrata. Getting down is the easy part as you can zip line your way back to the base of your mountain after your stay. The views of the Sacred Valley and the night sky are well worth the trek up to the lodge.
Destination #5: Huacachina
Sandboard in a desert oasis
Four hours south of Lima, in the desert lining the Pacific coast, sits a small lake and the oasis village of Huacachina. Aside from being the only desert oasis in South America, this village is also the jumping off point for adventure activities in the region. Strap on a board and get ready to hit the slopes… I mean dunes of the desert. If balancing isn’t your strong suit, you can also lie down and slide down head first. Dune buggies are your transportation of choice and offer a roller coaster ride up and down the dunes, rising high above the oasis.
Destination #6: Lima
Paraglide, surf, and swim with sea lions
Who said you have to travel to the interior of Peru to experience world-class adventure? In the capital, you can paraglide over the buildings and cliffs lining the coastline. You can also sign up for that surf lesson that you’ve always been meaning to try but never had the opportunity. If wildlife adventure is more in line with your interests, you can swim with sea lions in the waters of Palomino Island, an island about an hour off the coast of Lima.
Getting to Peru’s Best Adventure Destinations
In order to begin your adventure in Peru, international flights will arrive in Lima, the capital of the country. From Lima, adventure hot spots like the Amazon and Cuzco/Machu Picchu are a quick 1-2 hour flight. For more remote destinations in the Amazon, an additional multi-hour boat ride is necessary and typically included in the all-inclusive packages offered by the numerous lodges. Bus travel is also common in Peru and coach buses are modern, clean, and comfortable. Buses depart from downtown Lima and will whisk you away to the dunes in the south or to the mountains of central Peru surrounding Huaraz. We also offer transfers with English speaking guides if you prefer a private experience.