Nestled on the central Pacific coast of South America, Peru is the continent's third largest country by square footage and the fourth largest by population. Peru is home to the culinary capital of South America, the Amazon jungle, the Andes mountains, and the famous ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Embarking on a Peru tour can give you a glimpse of any or all of these exciting experiences.
Whether you choose to focus your tour in Peru on just 1-2 activities, or book a longer tour that allows you to sample everything Peru has to offer, you'll likely be pleased no matter what. Peru is a great place to visit for history, adventure sport, cuisine, and many other memorable travel experiences to feed your wanderlust.
Lima, Peru is the culinary capital of South America (and some might even go as far as to say "the world," depending on the restaurant). Often overlooked due to the popularity of its rivals, Machu Picchu and the Amazon, Lima is home to three of the fifty best restaurants in the world- and the best ceviche.
On your culinary adventure, be sure to try Pisco, alpaca, guinea pig, and of course -- roasted chicken. When visiting the highlands, try coca soup and tea (made from coca leaves) to ease your altitude sickness. Found in your standard drug and grocery store, some people even enjoy chewing on the leaves directly, just as the locals do.
As you can imagine, culinary tours may leave your taste buds overwhelmed, but in the best way possible!
Head to the dunes in Peru’s desert to Huacachina: a small town situated at the foot of sand dunes and an enchanting oasis. This town’s main attractions are dune buggies and sand boarding. Using wooden boards, travelers lay on their belly and glide face first towards the bottom. Other sand boarding opportunities can be found at Cerro Blanco and Usaka.
Zip lining and white water rafting are also common adventure sports to try in Peru. Over by the coast, join the surfers and sailors with a paragliding session. If you want to combine archeology with adventure, book a private aircraft and fly over the mysterious ancient Nazca lines in Nazca (limited availability for flights from Pisco and Lima).
Hiking & Trekking
Officially one of Peru's most visited sites, travelers from around the world flock to Peru to trek to Machu Picchu. An ancient city only discovered in the last century, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is actually just one of Peru's many gems worth trekking.
From alternative treks like the Lares trail, to extreme (yet picturesque) heights like Salkantay, trekkers love the open, untouched terrain the Andes mountains offer. Other stunning overnight treks include Colca Canyon and Misti Volcano, Santa Cruz, and Choquequirao. To go beyond (or below, rather) the highlands, try a trek in Peru's portion of the Amazon jungle.
For wildlife lovers, take a tour through the Amazon for trekking unlike any others.
With strong Inca, Spanish, African, and Japanese roots, and drastic regional differences between the highlands, jungle, and coast, you'll find Peru is rich with fused culture. From dance, cuisine, architecture, and art, Peru is an ideal vacation for culture enthusiasts. While cities like Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa are popular, take it one step further and venture out to a floating village. Head south towards the Bolivian border and visit the Uros tribe’s floating villages on Lake Titicaca.
Other cultural activities throughout Peru: attend an Afro-Peruvian festival, visit a Pisco vineyard, and join one of the many free (or extremely cheap) walking tours in popular cities. Your tour isn't complete without souvenirs, so pay close attention when you are at the museum or on a tour to gather ideas for historically significant gifts to bring home.
Best Time to Visit Peru
Peru's climates vary by region, so it is best to confirm the weather for each destination before you visit in order to pack adequately.
In the highlands (like the Andes mountains), the air is quite dry with drastic temperature changes throughout the day. Between November and March highland winters are extremely wet, preventing tourists from exploring many popular destinations. From April thru October, the highlands are cold but sunny and generally dry.
The rainforest, on the other hand, has plenty of rain and is extremely hot and humid, while Peru's warm coast is consistent year-round: sunny in northern Peru and cloudy/humid in central and southern Peru.
What to Look For in a Tour
There are tons of activities to consider adding to your Peruvian adventure. This country is huge and the options are endless. When planning your trip, try mapping out the location of each destination on your wish list and compare this to tour itineraries that you find. You may not find one that hits everything you want to do -- but many will do a good job of helping you see most of everything Peru has to offer.
Don't forget to read reviews from past guests to see how the tour went for them, and check which amenities are included in your tour cost.
Average Tour Cost
Peru is generally an affordable destination, though you can expect to pay more for high-effort activities or experiences, such as trekking to Machu Picchu. On average, tours range from $100-$150 per day or $500-$1000 per week depending on the inclusions and level of comfort at your accommodations.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
You don’t need much for your trip to Peru beyond the basics. Always pack a rain jacket or poncho, wear good hiking shoes, and a hat to protect you from the sun or wind. Remember that you are quite close to the equator so double up on the coverage.
For travelers looking to do any adventure sport, tours, or treks, feel free to leave your gear at home. Most tours and activities include gear rental in the cost, with the exception of big tours like Machu Picchu where they provide larger gear (tents, kitchenware, etc.), but you'll need to either bring or rent supplies like flashlights and sleeping bags (can usually be renting in the same towns treks or tours will leave from). If you're visiting Peru to surf (and don't need lessons), bringing your board might be more cost effective.
In addition to routine immunizations, you must get a yellow fever vaccine before your trip to Peru. Typhoid and Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are also recommended. You can check the CDC website for updated information. Here are more tips on staying healthy:
- Carry a small bottle of soap with you if traveling long distances
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth without washing your hands
- Ask your doctor about antibiotic options
Avoid drinking tap water in Peru. Remember to boil any water you do use, if not bottled and sealed, and refrain from eating food purchased from street vendors. Traveler’s diarrhea is a real consideration, so be mindful of what you consume. A rule of thumb when ordering Peru's most prized seafood dish: if you are not near the coast, it probably isn't wise to eat ceviche.
For those traveling to the highlands, allow yourself a few days to adjust to the altitude before going on any treks. Coca leaves are commonly used to relieve symptoms but may be a concern if your place of work back at home enforces drug testing.
For pregnant women and visitors traveling to the jungle, mosquito repellant is essential. Ask your doctor if malaria medication is right for you.
With both rural and metropolitan settings, Peru is considered to be moderately safe. Although many travelers will actually claim it to be extremely safe based on their own experiences, there are still concerns of theft and crime when traveling long distances between towns. Avoid renting a car if you are traveling at night, as there have been reports of highjacking. In the city and crowded areas, be alert and watch for pickpockets.