With so many things to see and do in Peru it is hard to know where to start. Of course we all know Machu Picchu, the legendary lost city of the Inca Empire, and the ever fascinating wonders of the Amazon rainforest, but what else is there to catch your eye in this intriguing South American country? In this week’s photo showcase we have highlighted our top ten sights to see in Peru, from some of the country’s best-known sites to a couple of hidden gems.
Tempted? Start planning your own adventure to Peru now and see these sights for yourself!
1. Machu Picchu
Often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu is a stunning sight that will amaze and astound even the most seasoned traveller. Set in the midst of a tropical mountain forest, the ultimate time to experience this legendary archaeological site is at sunrise, when the mist rises up from the mountain the ruins are illuminated in the golden glow of the morning sun.
2. Lake Titicaca
Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, this shimmering body of water is certainly a sight to behold. Scattered on the surface of the lake are beautiful islands and floating reed villages, while beyond the river banks are rolling hills and deep valleys. Due to their isolation from the mainland, traditional culture still prevails on the Uros, which is best seen with a homestay on one of the islands.
3. The Amazon Rainforest
Encompassing over one billion acres and spread across nine nations, including Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, the Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world. With unparalleled biodiversity and indigenous settlements, the Amazon cannot fail to inspire. While away the days in the Amazon hiking, swimming and snapping photos, and at night unwind in a rustic eco lodge in the heart of the rainforest.
4. Nazca Lines
Etched into the plains of the arid Peruvian desert, the Nazca Lines are one of the most enigmatic sights in all of Latin America. Believed to date back to between 500BC and 500AD, the Nazca Lines are amongst archaeology’s greatest mysteries due to their nature, size, and quantity. The iconic sketches are best appreciated from the air where their striking vision comes into true form.
5. Colca Canyon
Set within the dramatic landscape of Colca Valley is the awe-inspiring Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the better known Grand Canyon, this spectacular rock formation is home to the elusive Andean Condor. The sight of these majestic birds drifting through the verdant canyon walls with their incredible 10 foot wing-span is bound to leave a lasting impression.
6. Inti Raymi
Not so much a natural wonder as a cultural display, Inti Raymi is a fascinating ceremonial event that takes place each Winter Solstice in Cuzco and is not to be missed. Dating back to the time of the Incan Empire celebrants would gather to honour the sun god with fasting and animal sacrifices. Today it is a week-long colourful display of vibrant costumes, theatrical performances, street fairs and live music to celebrate the beginning of a new year.
7. Lares Valley
The picturesque Lares Valley, which is nestled within the rugged Andes, has all the natural beauty of the Inca Trail – spectacular snow-capped mountains, remote settlements and the legacy of the Incas – but without the crowds. Meet traditional Andean farmers, see thatched stone houses, and watch herds of llamas and alpacas roaming free in this spectacular valley.
Standing on the ruins of ancient Inca temples and palaces, the city of Cuzco is a captivating blend of traditional Andean culture, architectural wonders dating from the time of the Incas to the colonial era, and a majestic setting in a highland valley. The Sacsayhuaman Ruins are simply spectacular.
It may not look much more than a desert city at first but the appeal of Lima lies in its hidden treasures, from the country's finest museums to the many colonial buildings located in the historic UNESCO-listed centre. Pre-Colombian temples stand amid stately colonial mansions and the wealth of archaeological remains on display is nothing short of staggering.
10. The Sacred Valley
Tracing an astoundingly beautiful course from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley encompasses the heartland of the ancient Inca Empire with the historic citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo standing guard over the opposite edges of this steep-sided river valley. The ruins of these citadels are positively evocative and well worth exploring.