South America is the number one destination on my travel bucket list. I first heard about Incas and Aztecs way back in primary school and ever since, I’ve dreamed of going to Peru, climbing the Inca Trail and standing at Machu Picchu.
There are two reasons I haven’t made the journey yet. Firstly, the idea of ‘South America on a shoestring’ terrifies me as I don’t fancy having my organs harvested and sold on the black market (sorry, South America, I blame the internet for creating that stereotype). Which leads me to my second reason, I want to do South America properly and don’t want to miss anything or do anything half-heartedly. Here are 3 very important reasons why you should visit Peru!
1. Culture, nature and alpacas
Peru is the perfect mix of history, culture, nature and adventure. If none of those things do it for you, what about all the alpacas and llamas?! They’re everywhere, you can’t miss them. Aside from staring at funny-looking four-legged creatures all day, there’s a multitude of things to do in Peru.
2. The surf
The coastal areas are sunny all year round and have some of the best surf in the world. Pico Alto, south of Lima, is the biggest wave in South America and gets swell as big as 10 meters. Chicama and Mancora, in the north, are more than just picturesque beach towns, they’re a haven for surfers and have two of the world’s largest left-handed breaks. While in Mancora experience a once in a lifetime adrenaline rush, whizzing through the air along the insane 860 metre long zip line, set among stunning desert scenery.
3. Adventure activities and great food
About 187 kilometres south of Lima you’ll find the small village of Lunahuana, jump in a kayak or whitewater boat tour and tackle the Canete river or try a spot of hiking, mountain biking, paragliding and fishing. Lunahuana is famous for its food, traditionally prepared in clay pots on wooden stoves. Ease into it with shrimp, duck and pork then kick things up a notch and get stuck into some rabbit or guinea pig!
The Cordilla Blanca is the second highest mountain range after The Himalayas, so strap on your Nikes and get ready for some serious mountain climbing action (note: Nikes aren’t really appropriate for mountain climbing). After you’ve conquered Cordilla Blanca, The Andes are waiting for you.
The Andes run through seven South American countries, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Unless you’re really trying to get those extra steps on your pedometer, I recommend sticking to the section of The Andes running through Peru and following the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
There are many ways to explore Peru, but given it is one of the 20 largest countries in the world, you may want to look at finding ways to make getting around easier. Like I said, it isn’t something you want to do half-heartedly.
Top tips for traveling to Peru:
- carry warm clothes with you as the weather can change quickly, especially in the highlands
- comfortable footwear is essential, as is sunscreen and a hat
- don’t use unmarked taxis
- only use currency exchange agencies
- drink bottled water only and stay well hydrated
- treat altitude sickness by resting and consuming drink mate with coca leaves or taking coca pills
- don’t eat street food, only eat at restaurants, and
- tip around 10% for good service.
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.