The many reasons to go to Peru
Peru is an amazing country with so many adventures to offer. Peru has got everything: The diversity in nature with the long coastline, the lush valleys, deep canyons, humid rainforest and tall mountains. Peru has some of the kindest people and best food in the world.
I fell absolutely in love with Peru and I’m sure you will too!
Most people travel the northern part of Peru, fly into Lima and are then headed to Cusco. You can go either straight by plane from Lima airport or along the coastline by bus if you have a bit more time (minimum 3 weeks).
Lima is the capital of Peru and with a population of 7,2 mio people it isn’t hard to imagine how big the city is. Lima can seem very hectic and busy but if you give it time it will grow on you. There are loads of free walking tours, cooking classes and other touristy things to do – just to get the edge off the challenge of walking the city with the fear of getting lost. You can also go to Parque de la Reserva, recommended at night-time for some real life fountain entertaining. It cost about $0.50 for the entrance but it is definitely worth it for the beautiful show the park displays on the fountains every night.
Lima is known for it’s cuisine and it is definitely worth it trying some of the local specialities when you are in the city. Ceviche – Perus national dish is one of the many “must-do’s” when you’re traveling Peru.
As a solo traveller I always stay at hostels and Lima has got millions to offer. In fact hostels are to be found everywhere in Peru. In Lima most travellers stay in Miraflores, an area that is a bit more touristy and fancy. Miraflores offers big malls, Starbucks and, to me, it has very little to do with Lima and the Peruvian culture. I would recommend staying in the city centre if you’re only staying for a couple of days. Just to get the Peruvian-vibe under your skin before moving down the coast.
I recommend spending about 3 days in Lima.
If you have time to travel the coast I highly recommend it. The northern coastline of Peru is beautiful and has got so much to offer and it’s not too far apart if you don’t mind a couple hours on a bus every other day.
Paracas is a smaller town in the area called Pisco, a couple hours north of Lima. It is a small fisherman village that has turned into a touristy area because of it’s beautiful dessert that reaches all the way to the Pacific Ocean (as far as I’m concerned this is the only place in the world where a desert reaches the ocean) but also because of the opportunities to sail to Isla Ballestas.
Paracas is, as said, a small village and there isn’t much to do here other than the desert trip (you can go by bus, rent bikes or even go on quad-bikes) and head to the island for some wild-life-spotting.
Isla Ballistas, “Poor-mans Galapagos” as some people call it is beautiful and very rich on different species of animals. Paracas gets about 0,01-0,6mm of rain every year which explains the desert and why the animals have been forced to move out seas.
I recommend spending 2 days (1 night) in Paracas.
Huacachina is a small village just south of Paracas, it is built around a small oasis surrounded by sand dunes and it is quite spectacular.
Huacachina has a couple of different hostels. It is a small town and you can easily walk around it in minutes. The main attraction here is to go Sand Bugging. Every day buggies leave the village and enters the enormous desert for some action and some sand boarding. Everyone can attend – just prepare to get sandy!
I recommend spending 2-3 days in Huacachina.
Arequipa is the second most populated city in Peru second to Lima. It has a population of 800.000 people and is the capital of the Arequipa Region and the seat of the Constitutional Court of Peru. People call Arequipa “The White City” because of it’s beautiful white buildings. Arequipa has definitely got the charm of the spanish design.
Arequipa has got everything and if you aren’t struggling too much with the altitude (2300m) a day or two of just walking the city, getting lost is highly recommended.
From Arequipa you can go trekking in Colca Canyon. A beautiful trek that can last anything from a day to 3. The trek includes watching the famous Condor-bird which is quite an experience if you are interested in birds. Colca Canyon is, supposedly, one of the deepest canyons in the world. The Peruvians themselves aren’t too certain but claims that is is actually deeper than Grand Canyon itself. I’m not too sure though.
I recommend 3-4 days in Arequipa + 2-3-days of trekking Colca Canyon (depends on your shape – the 2 day trek is difficult!)
Everyone has heard of Cusco and if they haven’t they have definitely heard of Machu Picchu – and this is where you get there from.
Cusco is beautifully located in 3500m above sea level. It can be difficult walking around the first couple of days until you get used to the lack of oxygen but just remember to drinks loads of water and coca-tea – that will help you get used to the altitude faster to get to explore the wonders of Cusco.
Cusco’s location makes it possible to go to some of the most spectacular places on this planet, one of them being Rainbow Mountain. Rainbow Mountain has only just recently opened up for tourism and now hundreds are doing the trek in 5000m above sea level every single day. Rainbow Mountain is a 1-day trek. It is possible to arrange private tours for more than a day, but normally people just go for a day. The trek is amazing and takes you through lush fields with tiny villages and wild alpacas walking around until you get to the red valley and finally to the top of Rainbow Mountain. There are no words other than: YOU HAVE TO GO HERE!