Peru is a highly sought after tourist attraction as the country holds allure for people of all interests. There is unmatched natural beauty and wildlife (the Amazon cuts right through Peru) and there is a rich indigenous culture and history as the country was home to the great Inca civilization.
You may be keen to visit as Peru has so much to see and can be lighter on the pocket for most visitors as opposed to other tourist destinations. While some sites are undeniably and widely famous like the World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, there are some wonders which tend to go unnoticed.
That being said, they will complete your Peru holiday as one mesmerizing experience and should not be missed.
1. Huayna Picchu- The Trek Behind Machu Picchu
For obvious reasons, the great hidden city of Machu Picchu cannot be overlooked. The mountain that lies behind the city called Huayna Picchu is also a treat to witness. It contains a trek that provides a unique angle for one to look upon the city especially for niche travel photographers.
Many people that have chosen to hike on this mountain in lieu of some other site visits (due to limited time), have found it to be the focal point of their overall Peru experience. The hike should ideally be booked in advance as only approximately 400 people are allowed on any one day.
Along the trail, you will also come across the moon temple which had astrological implications for the Incas. While you are on the trail, however, note that the sign which shows the way to the temple is not highlighted which is why many people do the trek but never come across it.
2. Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca despite being one of the largest lakes in the world (parts of it flow in Bolivia too) can sometimes be missed if you are too concerned about following a strict tour guide. It is perfect for a couple retreat as its blue, clear waters are romantic and mystic.
The Incas believed the lake to be inherently sacred and magical and claimed that the creator god Viracocha had risen from the waters of Titicaca. A lot of their rituals and spiritual beliefs remained tied to the lake till their near extinction at the hands of the Spanish.
While the lake outlines both Peru and Bolivia, it can be reached with the most ease from Puno in the former. You can get a boat ticket from the Puno port for a reasonable price and witness the beauty of this lake by yourself or with a loved one.
The ‘Floating Islands’ where the Uros people reside are some of the only places not touched by too many colonial Spanish influences or modern touches. The Uros people live simply in a very traditional fashion and are cheerful and welcoming to all visitors. Everything you will see such as houses and boats are made from totora reeds.
Meditation And Yoga Retreats
Due to the tranquil waters and breathtaking views, the islands in Lake Titicaca have several meditation and yoga retreats where you can spend anywhere from 3 days to several weeks.
A silent meditation retreat on the island of Amantani is a haven for people looking for a change or wanting to be healed from their past. Even if you aren’t an enthusiast of holistic health, you will still enjoy the yoga classes, meditation sessions and the incredible scenery this retreat has to offer.
3. Nazca Lines
The Nazca lines went ignored for decades till they were identified by aircraft whizzing overhead. They are the name given to the strange unexplained crop-circle like drawings and etchings present in the desert in southern Peru. These shapes and figures run for a solid 310 square miles and can only be witnessed in an airplane.
Since this is a heritage site protected by UNESCO, walking on these lines is not allowed so as to not further erode the historical markings. Flying over the site you will spot a 300 feet monkey-like figure, a 430 feet condor, a spider and a hummingbird. Archeologists have named the drawing faintly resembling a human being as the ‘astronaut.’
There are various speculations about the origins of these markings, with some chalking them up to be extra-terrestrial. Other explanations are less wondrous, with many claiming they must have been made both to honor animals which were considered sacred in Nazca culture and also to increase the fertility of the land.
4. Gocta Waterfall- A Fairly Recent Discovery
Many would find it astounding that the world’s third-biggest waterfall was discovered in 2006 (as opposed to decades ago).
Only the local tribes have knowledge of the great waterfall but it didn’t really exist for the rest of the world until a German engineer came upon it and informed the government of Peru.
The hike to the waterfall is a mere 5 hours but in the years following its discovery, it has been mainly restricted for tourists, with most not knowing about it, to begin with.
Myths depict the waterfall as being home to a vivacious siren who has captivating beauty and powers. The hike to the waterfall displays rich avian life with several species of hummingbirds for the avid bird-watcher.
5. Colca Canyon
This canyon is home to quite a bit of intrigue as it runs as deep as 10,469 ft. which is more than the Grand Canyon in the US. There are remnants of crop terraces to be seen which were utilized by civilizations older than the Incas. The canyon is also one of the very few places in the world where the endangered Andean Condor nests and can still be seen.
6. Iquitos (Amazon River Basin)
A small traditional city in the heart of Peru called Iquitos is an often forgotten wonder of the region. The city has to be accessed either by airplane or boat as no roads lead to it.
As a tourist, the most cost-effective option for you is to book a single day trip or a week-long one when you’re in the general area. This is since trips booked beforehand online can cost 4 to 5 times more money.
All guided tours take you across the Amazon basin with its ample and diversified wildlife and you can stay in a lovely bungalow overlooking the water. Piranhas, Dolphins, and crocodiles are regular visitors in the area.
Many indigenous tribes live close by so you can interact with them and learn more about the local culture.
7. Laguna 69
This lake is near the city of Huaraz in Peru and looks like nothing short of a mesmerizing dream. People visiting Huaraz are recommended to take the 2-hour bus ride and then hike to the lake simply for the scenery. The lake glistens like a gemstone and lies right in the middle of icy mountains.
The city of Huaraz and the surrounding areas are at a considerable altitude of 10,013 feet so tourists often have to spend a few days getting used to the cold. This is especially the case if they are coming after visiting the other areas of the country which are warmer.
Upon visiting Peru, you will find that it has all manner of extremes of weather. On one hand there are hot springs, volcanoes, deserts and tropical forests and on the other hand mountains belonging to the Andes range with deep valleys.
There is no end to the visitor’s capacity to be bewildered by the unchecked beauty of the natural elements and the mysterious history of the ancient sites.