Picture a land where vibrant history flows close to the surface. Where mountains tower above ancient cities and resilient trees cling to high-altitude slopes. Where rural farms and lively cities bring centuries-old traditions into the present moment.
This is Peru. With a rich cultural history spanning thousands of years and a landscape infused with the power of the Pacific Ocean, the Andes Mountains, and the Amazon Rainforest, Peru is an essential adventure travel destination in South America.
So if you’re here because you’re wondering ‘Is Peru a good place to visit?’ the answer is a resounding “YES!”
There are dozens of reasons to visit Peru – so many that the hard part is figuring out what to prioritize!
In our experience planning Yoga Adventures in Peru, we’ve learned a thing or two about the crowd favorite places to visit in Peru…and how to get off the beaten path. Our hot take: like so many things in life, planning a Peru trip is all about focus and balance: and we’ve done the work for you!
But let’s look a bit closer.
Reasons to Visit Peru
Peru is Vibrant and Diverse
From the coastal capital of Lima to the bustling mountaintop city of Cusco, from desert to jungle, Peru packs a stunning amount of ecological diversity and beauty.
It’s not practical to see all of Peru in one trip (unless you plan to stay for months – more power to you!).
But we’d argue that shouldn’t be your goal: thanks to the dramatic topography, you can experience plenty of variety across relatively short distances. And by concentrating your trip on a smaller area, you have a chance to immerse yourself more deeply in Peru’s natural beauty and history.
That’s why we choose to center our adventures on the area surrounding Cusco and Machu Picchu – this is a quintessential Andean region that offers a lifetime of exploration!
Peru’s culture is equally diverse. As you move from the bustling streets of Cusco to the small surrounding villages, you’ll notice a distinct shift in the pace of life and hyper-local traditions.
Peru is a Hiker’s Dream
You’ve probably heard of the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but that’s just one of the hundreds of awe-inspiring trails you can find in Peru’s mountains.
Whether you prefer to stroll amongst ruins or test your cardio at high elevation, there’s something for you here.
In Peru, hiking is a great way to visit many of the stunning natural and cultural features on your list. On our Yoga Adventure, you’ll hike to the rarely-visited forests of Queuñua trees, visit archaeological sites like Wari Pumamarca on foot, and travel an ancient path between villages.
And of course, you’ll hit the last few miles of the Inca trail, too.
Peru’s Rich History at Your Fingertips
For thousands of years, Peru has been a hotbed of civilization. The most famous? The Incan Empire.
Though most archeological sites are in the area surrounding its ancient capital, Cusco, the empire actually spanned from Colombia to Argentina!
Similar to Peru’s landscape, the Incan legacy is rich and diverse. Unlike many empires, the Inca expanded mainly through peaceful acquisition, adopting the best aspects of every culture they absorbed. They anchored their power with astounding feats of engineering, mathematics, and astronomy – hence the many spectacular sites we still see today.
Ponder this legacy as you explore Peru’s varied ruins and archaeological sites. Pumamarca, Chachabamba, Wiñay Wayna, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo are just a few of our favorites in our itinerary!
Find Spiritual Connection in Peruvian Culture
Today, the Incan legacy lives on through the indigenous Quechua people of Peru.
With hyperlocal lifestyles that fuse ancient traditions with modern life, the Quechua masterfully blend past and present.
With local guidance and permission, you may have the opportunity to participate in traditional ways of life, like farming and weaving. When you adventure with us, you’ll even join in a Despacho ceremony: a unique Andean ceremony of offering and gratitude.
The deep spiritual roots of Peruvian culture make it an excellent place to ground down and deepen your yoga practice (or begin your yoga journey for the first time!)
Essential Places to Visit in Peru
There are too many unique destinations in Peru to list them all here, but here are our non-negotiables (and already part of our itinerary (!)
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
A stereotype? Maybe. But for good reason!
When you’ve never been to Peru, it’s reasonable to wonder if Machu Picchu is really worth the hype.
But after visiting the lost city, most come to the same conclusion: Machu Picchu is one hundred percent worth the (literal!) trek.
Perched high on a mountaintop, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s great wonders. The Incan ingenuity and architectural skill on display here will move you from intellectual curiosity to pure, mystical awe.
Stone temples rise straight out of the mountain and terraced agricultural fields fall away below. You’ll ask yourself over and over…
“How did they do THAT?”
To get some answers (and deepen your appreciation!) you’ll definitely need our expert guide and night at the gates of Machu Picchu to enlighten your. But some of the lost city’s mysteries are lost to time.
Cusco is the Historical Capital of Peru (officially – Peru’s constitution says so!). Founded around 1100 by the Incas as their capital, unlike Machu Picchu, Cusco is still a pulsing urban center.
Once you’ve gotten used to the altitude, peruse the colorful goods in Cusco’s many eclectic markets (Pisac’s for example). Dine on cuisine that fuses traditional Andean crops with modern cooking techniques. Wander the steep, narrow streets of Barrio de San Blas, where Spanish houses are built on ancient Incan foundations (there’s a metaphor there).
Along the way, striking plazas and places of worship remind you of Peru’s full history: under Incan rule, then Spanish, and everything that’s happened since.
Nestled at a lower elevation between Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the many peaks of the Andes, the Sacred Valley transports you into a landscape of Incan idyll.
As one of the great empire’s agricultural centers, Incan influence is clear to see in the many ruins and terraced fields.
In the Sacred Valley, there’s plenty of space to picnic at an archaeological site for lunch, hike in the afternoon, and unwind at a boutique hotel in the evening (yep, we do it all in one day on our adventure!)
Still, you’ll feel a respite from the crowds of more popular tourist destinations. It’s a perfect way to balance out a trip to Peru’s wondrous Andean heartland.
Peru Travel Tips
As with so many destinations, a spectacular and immersive trip to Peru requires due diligence and preparation!
Independent travelers will need these tips to travel comfortably and safely to Peru:
- Be picky about transportation. Travel only in marked cabs (ideally, have your hotel call one for you!) If you’re traveling between cities by bus, do your homework in advance to find a bus company with an excellent safety record.
- Mind your money. Money changers offer their services on the streets, but don’t be tempted by the convenienc., To stay on the safe side, only exchange currency at official, brick-and-mortar establishments.
- Slow down when you’re high up. Cusco sits at a high altitude – 11,152 feet (3,399 meters)! Machu Picchu is just a few thousand feet lower. Give your body plenty of time to adjust, drink lots of water, and take it easy when exercising. You can also try an ancient local remedy, the coca leaf, as a chew or tea.
When you adventure with us, you won’t have to worry about any of that (well, except listening to your body at altitude…but we build in plenty of time to adjust!)
With your itinerary already set, in the care of trusted local guides and transportation companies, you can let all those modern logistical thoughts fall from your mind as the timeless mountains and tales of past glory pull you in.
Oh yeah… and we’ll let you in on a few local secrets, too!