Places to Visit
Need more information about the travel options within Peru? Click on the below links to find out more about the major destinations to consider when planning your trip to Peru.
If you re looking for an off the beaten track experience then this is the place for you.
The coastal and Andean areas north of Lima are less visited than the rest of Peru. If you re looking for an off the beaten track experience then this is the place for you. Attractions here include the world s second largest Archaeological ruins, Chan Chan, an adobe city built by the Chimu Culture, and the Andean city of Cajamarca. One of the most crucial parts of Peru s history occurred in Cajamarca. The Spanish Conquistadors captured and subsequently executed the Inca Atahualpa. Recently the Chachapoya city of Kuelap (City in the Clouds) has also gained a lot of international attention, being the subject of a number of documentaries.
There s no doubt about it that if you re interested in ancient history and archaeology, you must try to make the effort to include the North of Peru in your itinerary.
You may also be interested in this region if you enjoy surfing. The little town of Mancora, not far from the Ecuador border, is considered a surfer s hotspot, with warm, turquoise waters and good waves. The ocean temperature here averages around 24 degrees Celsius (although with the Humboldt Current it can drop as low as 14 degrees!) The nearest airport to Mancora is Talara or Tumbes and the flight time is two hours from Lima.
When to Visit the North of Peru
Depending on where you are, the north of Peru can get very hot. Summer temperatures (December to April) have been known to reach the 40 s (degrees Celsius). Rain is more likely in the summer which can cool things down, but if you prefer more comfortable temperatures we recommend for you to travel Peru s North between April and November. It s generally warm and dry during these months.
Note: For Andean destinations such as Cajamarca, refer to When to Visit the Peruvian Highlands (above).
Cusco and Machu Picchu are clearly the most popular destinations of Peru.
Cusco and Machu Picchu are clearly the most popular destinations of Peru. Machu Picchu is a 15 th century Inca site, located 2, 430m above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. It is the most famous of all Inca sites but it was not until 1911 that it was brought to the world s attention by the American historian Hiram Bingham. The Incas abandoned the city just prior to Spanish colonisation meaning that the Spanish conquerors never had a chance to pillage the city. As a result the ruins are still in fantastic condition and given the location of the city on a dramatic ridgeline surrounded by sheer cliffs and the Urubamba River on three sides it truly is a remarkable place to visit. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and in 2007 it was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Nearby Cusco is equally as fascinating and teems with Andean pride. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and although the Spanish looted and rebuilt much of the city there are still plenty of Incan remains. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined by Inca walls stretch out from the main plaza in every different direction. Most colonial buildings were built on top of Incan foundations and the stonework is unparalleled in its precision and beauty. Some of the Inca s most sacred sites still exist in part. The incredible Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) and Sacsayhuaman (fortress overlooking Cusco) are two definite must-sees. A visit to the local market is also an experience not to miss, and you can find all sorts of culinary delights in Cusco, from the very traditional to the very modern.
The Sacred Valley or Rio Urubamba Valley contains several other famous and beautiful Inca ruins. The colonial village of Pisac sits at the base of the spectacular Pisac Ruins a hilltop Inca citadel and fortress with impressive agricultural terracing. Pisac itself is worth exploring especially on market days when the village comes alive with locals from nearby hillside villages in traditional dress selling local fruit and vegetables as well as handicrafts. The quaint town of Ollantaytambo is also dominated by Inca ruins. There are a few houses in the town dating back to Inca times. The ruins were not only a fortress, but were also of religious significance.
Both Cusco and Machu Picchu are at a high altitude (Cusco more so than Machu Picchu) and as such please be aware that you could suffer from altitude sickness in these areas. We do try to plan our itineraries to ease people into the altitude with low impact tours and activities on your first few days in the Andes. We also recommend you to consider adding one or two extra days purely to relax, acclimatise and get used to your first high-altitude experience. A great way to do this is to ask to book a transfer direct from Cusco Airport to one of our lovely hotels located in the Sacred Valley (located at a lower, more comfortable altitude). Staying in the Sacred Valley for two nights is a great way to ease your way slowly into the altitude. You can then continue rom here to Machu Picchu and leave Cusco, which is highest of the three, for last.
When to Visit the Peruvian Highlands
The Highland Region has two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs from October to April and the dry season from May to September. The drier months are generally considered the better months to visit, although due to the popularity of these destinations many people now consider the wet season better. The wet season isn t necessarily continuously wet. There is a higher chance of rainfall from October to April (particularly January and February) but you do often get cloud-free days. It can also, of course, rain in the dry season. We recommend that you don t put too much importance on wet/dry season. A lot of it is luck!