As one of the most popular countries to travel to in Latin America, Peru never ceases to disappoint with its diverse culture and landscapes.
In this guide, we’ll explore three of the best outdoor adventures you can take in the fantastic country, including everything you need to know to make the trip yourself.
Hiking Machu Picchu
Kicking off with arguably the most popular Peruvian destination of all, this legendary citadel is more often than not the reason most head to Peru.
Machu Picchu is located near the town of Aguascalientes, however, most travellers will begin their journey from the imperial city of Cusco.
Once here you’ll have two options:
The more simple option: is to pay for a tour (most vendors will be found in and around the Plaza de Armas), who will sort all logistics for you to get to the hidroelectrica track.
Once there you can either take the train or hike along the track which takes around 2 hours. Arriving at Aguascalientes you can then have a night’s rest and get ready to see the site the following day.
The other option: is the Inca Trail, which is a demanding multi-day trek that will see you pass through the Andes and witness some truly incredible landscapes along the way.
Most travellers that are backpacking South America and arriving in Peru go for one of the two options. Either way will be great, it just depends on your time, budget and of course the kind of experience that you want.
From Aguascalientes, you can hike up the mountain to arrive at Machu Picchu (which takes around 90 minutes) or alternatively take the bus up to the ancient town.
Once you arrive you’ll be greeted by a superb vista of the site, where you can see many temples, houses and other important buildings of that period.
You’ll also be able to explore some of the other terraces for better angles and see the occasional llama or two going about their business.
We recommend heading early in the morning (on the first bus) to avoid crowds, and also to see the site with an amazing mist, creating a truly spectacular sight.
The best time to head here is in the months of March until May, and also from June until August. Both fall within the dry season and will give you the best chance of having a clear blue sky during your visit.
Sandboarding in Huacachina
Many who start looking at where to head in Peru will have no doubt seen photos of the incredible dunes and the infamous oasis town in the middle of the desert.
Huacachina is this town, as is a popular trip to make from Lima due to the relative closeness (especially when compared with other, further afield destinations).
Whilst the scenery is incredible, it’s the Sandboarding that makes it so popular for travellers heading to the region.
You can purchase a tour in the town, where you’ll first be strapped into a dune buggy as you whiz around some of the giant dunes (it truly is a heart-racing trip!). At the end, you’ll park up on top of a large dune and start making your way down… on a wooden plank no less.
You can either lie down on your front and propel yourself head-first or be one of the brave few to attempt it standing. In total there’ll be three dunes for you to glide through, giving you ample time to get your technique right.
We recommend heading on the last tour (which is sometime around 4 pm), where at the end you’ll be able to sit on top of one of the largest dunes and get some incredible views of the sunset falling above the desert town.
To get to Huacachina from Lima, you’ll first need to take a bus from the capital to the city of Ica, which takes around 6 hours. Once you’ve arrived, hail a moto-taxi and make the 15-minute trip to Huacachina.
The best time to visit the town is from the months of June until September, although it’ll be the most crowded too. Just be sure to bring some extra layers, as whilst nice and warm during the day, it usually drops rapidly come the night (being in a desert and all).
Swim with saltwater crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove
The last of our top outdoor experiences to be had in Peru is by far the least known of the three and is pretty much unknown to most travellers heading here.
Located up in the Amazonas region, Yumbilla is a waterfall that has an astonishing height of 896m, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the World.
However since it was only discovered in the last few decades, it’s still barely known about and makes for one of the best off the beaten path experiences to be had in Peru.
To get here you’ll first need to head to the city of Chachapoyas, which can be reached either by a couple of long buses from the capital or by flying to nearby Jaén or Tarapoto and catching a ride there.
From here, head to the main bus terminal, and get on a microbus heading to the town of Pedro Ruiz. From here you can then either take a taxi or moto-taxi (the latter being cheaper) and ask to head to the town of Cuispes, which is up in the mountains. Once here the real adventure begins.
You’ll hike for around 45 minutes through the steaming jungle, where you’ll see some pretty awesome plants and smaller waterfalls along the way.
After navigating your way through some trickier muddy paths (bring good quality hiking boots), you’ll start to hear the distant roars of Yumbilla.
There are two different viewing platforms; one where you’re level with the lower drop and can get a more surreal view, and also the higher up one where you can practically stand next to the landing area of the thundering falls.
As well as some good hiking boots and a raincoat (you’ll be surprised how wet you get standing near the falls), we also recommend leaving Chachapoyas early as the weather in these parts tends to turn stormy around 3/4 pm – not a place you’ll want to be caught out in.
Peru truly is a must-visit when in South America. With its numerous epic landscapes, you’ll want to plan a good amount of time here to see the very best.
In this guide, we’ve covered three of the very best outdoor adventures to be had in Peru, how to get to each, as well as our top tips to have the best experience possible.
Have you been to the Peru? Got it on your bucket list? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.