Miami? Cancun? Cusco!
For spring break of my final year in college, my friends and I packed up and headed off for a two-week escapade in South America, starting off in Bolivia and winding up in Peru. Workable on a busy schedule, this is an active and nonstop trip! What we found in Peru was a gorgeous country with wonderful landscapes, culture, and food.
Read on for my guide on things to do in Peru!
Aesthetically European, Cusco is extremely tourist friendly with buzzing nightlife and great gastronomy. This will generally be your starting point and gateway to Machu Picchu. I recommend at least a day or two of wandering around this historic city.
Hike Machu Picchu
A wonder of the world that really lives up to its name! I can’t even begin to fathom how they built this place on the mountaintops. With foggy mornings and bright afternoons, Machu Picchu is quite literally a place among the clouds.
Climb around the various areas, hire a local tour guide to learn about the history of the ruins, and undoubtedly run into the herds of llamas grazing in the area. Beware any obvious snacks, as they’re known to steal food!
The easiest route is to take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. There are plenty of operators and you’ll run into a number of tourists doing the same journey. At Aguas Calientes, if you’re crunched for time, visit Machu Picchu by bus (instead of doing the full trek), and save your energy instead for a hike up Huayna Picchu…
Hike Huayna Picchu
As one of the most demanding climbs, this path will take you up over a nearby mountain to a spectacular viewpoint of Machu Picchu itself! With narrow paths and steep staircases, Huayna has been the site of a few deaths. Remember to wear appropriate footwear, and if you have time, visit the Great Cavern where the Moon Temple is located.
On your way out, stamp your passport to mark your visit to Machu Picchu!
Sail Lake Titicaca and visit the Uros floating islands
At the highest lake in the world, stop by the floating islands of Uros which are inhabited by the Uru people. Each island takes over a year to build, and is constructed entirely out of reeds! Learn their customs and take a ride in their totora boats.
Drink an authentic Peruvian drink
If unique beverages are your thing, you’ll get your fix in Peru! Try any of the following:
- Pisco sour (lemon juice, ice, egg whites, Angostura bitters)
- Mate de coca (non alcoholic, but used for medicinal properties such as relieving altitude sickness)
- Chica (Peruvian drink made from yucca root or maize)
After my pisco sour, I opted for a mojito to celebrate my 50th country. Cheers!
Try local cuisine
If you dare! Alpaca, llama, ceviche, chicken hearts, and of course, guinea pig are all local delicacies.
Eat, surf, and drink in Lima
Finish off your trip in Lima. This South American capital is oddly reminiscent of southern California with coastal cliffs and scenic sunset views. Lima’s a surfer’s paradise and a beautiful beach city, with an abundance of great restaurants and nightlife in the Miraflores district. The perfect way to end your adventure!
Let me know some of your favorite things to do in Peru, and read on for how to visit Bolivia’s stunning salt flats!