Why visit Peru
While Machu Picchu is certainly a highlight of Peru, the country is blessed with so much natural beauty, ancient rituals and fine food that only focussing on Machu Picchu does it a great injustice.
Experience Peru properly and you’ll discover a wealth of different worlds, all with their own individual landscapes, sounds, colours and tastes; travel back in time to ancient civilisations and share the great cultural heritage of the Peruvian people.
Peru is a destination that must be seen to be believed.
Escaping the tourist trail in Peru
There are some well trodden tourist paths in Peru… and for every tourist track there are endless paths off the tourist trail that offer the most magical experiences.
Stay overnight on Isla Suasi
Suasi Island is the only private island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. You can cruise across the lake on a day trip, visiting the famous islands of Uros and Taquile and then stay in the private retreat on the island. The views of the lake are absolutely incredible!
Choose a different Inca Trail trek
There are 3,500km of Inca Trails, so the 42km traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is only a very small portion. It is the only option to actually ‘walk’ to Machu Picchu, but is overwhelmingly crowded and heavily regulated.
While most visitors opt for the walk to Machu Picchu, there are plenty of other options that are less crowded, offer spectacular views and include camp stays rather than lodges.
Go deep in the Amazon at Manu
For the serious jungle lovers… Manu is the place to go. It is one of the most biodiverse places on earth and listed as a World Heritage Site.
You won’t find any other park in South America that has both low-lying tropical jungle and cold, high grasslands 4,000m above sea level.
You will need to allow extra time to travel there, but it is so worth it.
Discover the history of Northern Peru
Have you ever heard of Kuelap Fortress in Chachapoyas?
It’s commonly known as the second Machu Picchu… and where much of the pre-Inca culture developed. They are still unearthing archaeological wonders there today! The area is not widely known and doesn’t see many travellers, so it is a good option for a history lesson without the crowds.
When to visit Peru
Peru has two seasons – wet and dry – although depending on the region, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Generally, the higher you climb, the more the temperature drops.
In the coastal region – covering areas such as Lima, Paracas, Trujillo and Chiclayo – the temperature is cool and dry mostly year-round.
The temperatures are warmest in summer – December to March – with hot and humid days followed by cool nights. In winter, the temperature cools slightly but the humidity increases significantly.
In the highlands of the Andes – Cusco, Puno and Arequipa – there is a rainy season – November to April – and a dry season – May to October. If you are keen for a hiking adventure, the dry season is the time to visit.
The Amazon is consistently humid and tropical, with high rainfall throughout the year.
During the wet season of January to June, the Amazon is best explored by boat. From July to December the waters recede, allowing for hiking and exploration by foot.
Must see Peru
Cusco is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America and the sacred capital of the Inca Empire.
Cusco is filled with cobbled streets lined with the remains of exquisite stone walls built by the Inca.
We recommend taking a few days to explore and soak in the atmosphere of the area before you visit the magnificent Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail is by far the most famous trek in South America. In just 43km it manages to combine beautiful mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest, subtropical jungle and, of course, a stunning mix of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels.
The final destination of the trail is the real reward of the trek: Machu Picchu, the mysterious “Lost City of the Incas”.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at an altitude of 3825m.
The lake covers 10,000sq km and is shared by Peru and Bolivia, where it is a revered and mythical place.
Legend tells that the founders of the Inca Empire rose from the waters to create the ancient civilisation.
The Uros Indians – believed to be descended from Inca Royalty – still live on floating islands in the lake today.
While the crowds, fog and noise of Lima may deter many from visiting the city, it is steeped in history and home to the best of ancient and modern Peruvian culture.
The best option for visiting Lima is to take a guided tour through the historic areas and end your day with a fabulous Peruvian feast at one of the traditional waterfront restaurants.
There is nothing that can prepare you for the magnificence of Machu Picchu.
The famous citadel of the Incas lay undiscovered for centuries… and how fortunate we are that it lay hidden for so long, preserving its beauty so that we can now experience it for ourselves.
The Peruvian Amazon is the fourth largest expanse of tropical rainforest in the world. In fact, it is so large that the Amazon covers 60% of Peru! Iquitos is the starting point for trips to the Peruvian Amazon River, with small luxury cruises being the main option.
The Tree House Lodge is a unique accommodation option within the Amazon Rainforest. The bungalows set high in the trees give you an entirely new perspective of the rainforest.
Each of the 10 bungalows are equipped with fine bedding, a sink, a toilet and a cool water shower for cooling down in the heat.
Peru’s Sacred Valley stretches north from Cusco along the fertile riverbank to Machu Picchu. Named for the richness of its soil, the valley was a thriving garden for the Incas.
Ollantaytambo is a buzzing little village on the doorstep of the Inca ruins and the boarding point for trains to Machu Picchu. The village of Pisac is 30 minutes from Cusco and, in our opinion, has the best shopping of any of the valley markets.
Peru’s ashlar (white stone) city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, volcanoes and deep canyons.
Nestled between the coast and the southern highlands of Peru, it is renowned for gastronomy, small coves and beaches.
Four hours from Arequipa you will find Colca Canyon, at a height of 4350m. The road to the valley runs across the slopes of the Chachani volcano and fields where alpacas and viscachas run wild.
The valley is perfect for camping and hiking… and look out for the mysterious cave drawings.
Peru for seniors
Peru is perfect for seniors as the tourism infrastructure is well developed and caters to everyone, with most of the sites well-equipped for less mobile people. We have local travel partners who specialise in older travellers with a focus on slow travel, accessible transport and accommodation.
For senior travellers we encourage staying longer in fewer places and including guided day trips to get the most out of each destination. No matter your age, we recommend to all our travellers that they slow down – it’s not a race!
Peru small group tours
Peru is ideal for small group tours. We have organised travel for groups of anywhere between 6 and 16 people, with a bespoke tailored experience.
If you prefer to join a larger group when you travel, we can also recommend small group tour operators in Peru who we know and trust.
Guided tours in Peru
Creating personalised journeys for our travellers is what we live for! When we know what your interests are, we match you to the local guides who can give you the experience you are looking for. We have helped our travellers in the past to find gardens that take their breath away, indulge in their passion for trying the local food, go frog watching or hunting for textiles… nothing is impossible!
Hiking in Peru
Peru has some of the most famous hiking trails in the world… the Inca Trail. And while it is a phenomenal experience to hike to Machu Picchu and the city of the Incas, don’t limit your Peru hiking options to the Inca Trails alone.
Rainbow Mountain is one of the most beautiful hidden treasures of Peru. It is not a popular tourist trek, which adds to the appeal.
But also, the tourists don’t know what they are missing!
Like something straight out of a colouring-in book, the candy-striped mountains of Vinicunca are a truly magical sight. The mineral sediments of millions of years of evolution have created this most glorious effect, which is visible on many peaks and in different colour combinations.
We recommend a fully-guided tour of Rainbow Mountain as this is one trek that is best done under the guidance of an expert who can share their knowledge and experience with you.
While you are in Peru, you might want to broaden your journey… South America is a diverse and amazing place! Here are a few of our favourite destinations to build alongside your Peru adventures.
From Peru you can reach Bolivia simply by crossing Lake Titicaca. You will arrive in La Paz and the wild and diverse Bolivia is at your fingertips.
The Uyuni desert is a must while you are in Bolivia… and we recommend three days to see it all. The salt flats are sublime.
Staring out at 11,000km² of desert does make you lose all perspective of size, distance and direction… the pictures really don’t do justice to the experience of being in this phenomenal place.
Ecuador is a natural extension of a Peru trip… and one many of our travellers take. You can fly to Quito, the world’s first World Heritage city, and explore the country by road or rail.
For those who just want to explore the Galapagos Islands, you can fly to Guayaquil and head straight to the islands from there. In the Galapagos Islands, we have cruise and island-based options for exploration.
From Lima you can fly straight to Iguassu Falls, making Brazil a great add-on to your Peru holiday.
Brazil is the ultimate combination of nature’s finest work, architectural design and modern South American culture. From the stunning Iguassu Falls you can explore the Amazon or the Pantanal.
Then lose yourself in the cobbled lane ways, shake to the samba rhythms at one of the city restaurants or bars, or lose yourself in the paradise of 8,000km of coastline.