From hiking a path that leads to ruins of an ancient civilization to taking a dune buggy tour, these are just some of the adventure activities in Peru.
Each year, more and more backpackers come to South America for adventure and beautiful natural scenarios.
Peru is one of the countries who receive most of the tourists, its diverse landscapes and ecosystems provide different activities and experiences especially for those looking for adventure and nature.
Backpacking in Peru is an amazing experience, but if you crave some active experiences, you’ll find them in spades here.
10 Amazing Adventure Activities In Peru
There are so many epic adventurous things to do in Peru, that narrowing them down to 10 was difficult. Still, here’s a great place to start!
Hike The Inca Trail
Imagine literally walking down the path of an ancient civilization! That’s exactly what the Inca Trail is about.
Originally the Incas built nearly 40,000 thousand kilometers of trails to connect all parts of their territory that used to go from Ecuador to Chile.
Nowadays, what we call Inca Trail is the path that connects Cusco to Machu Picchu.
There are different options for those willing to take the journey.
The classic one takes 4 days between km 82 (starting point) and Machu Picchu.
On the way, the trail passes close to different Inca ruins that can only be visited for those hiking the Inca trails.
It is important to notice that this route ascent to beyond 4,200 meters, which can cause altitude sickness for those who are not prepared or used to this altitude.
The tip here is to spend some days acclimating in Cusco to make sure your body will be more prepared.
For those who find the idea of hiking for 4 days at a high altitude too extreme, there is also the short option that takes one day to reach Machu Picchu.
It is important to note that the Inca Trail is regulated and limited, so bookings should be done at least 4 months before.
Hike The Salcantay Trail
Named as one of the 25 Best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine.
Salcantay trail is another ancient path located in the same region as the Inca Trail, although its trekking is considered harder than the Inca Trail, it has no limitations on spaces.
The Salcantay trail is a path in the middle of the Cordillera Vilcabamba and raises to 6,271, it is recommended to spend some days in Cusco before taking the hiking, in order to avoid the altitude sickness.
The trail receives its name due to the Salcantay Mountain, a glacier-capped summit considered sacred by the local Indians.
The long route also leads to Machu Picchu and takes 5 days to reach the ruins, but there are also shorter options.
Meet The Wildlife At Isla Ballestras
Located in Paracas, this group of rocky islands, is an important sanctuary for the marine fauna, being compared to the Galapagos.
The islands are home to sea lions, penguins, different birds and depending on the period of the year, it is possible to see dolphins as well.
As the islands are protected, it is not allowed to swim in the region nor get out of the boats, but it is possible to come really close to these animals in wild and watch them carrying on their daily life. It is definitely a unique experience and a must for wildlife lovers.
On the way to the Islas Ballestas, it is also possible to see from the boat the famous Paracas Candelabra, a prehistoric geoglyph similar to the Nazca Lines, the figure is 595 feet tall carved on the soil.
It is believed to be made by the Paracas people dated back to 200 BCE, however, its meaning remains unknown.
Visit The Rainbow Mountain
Also known as Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain is becoming a very popular tourist destination, so make sure you get there soon before it gets too crowded.
The mountain is located in the Vilcabamba, really close to Cusco and can be done as a day trip from the city.
It receives this name due to the different natural pigments of the rocks in the mountain that makes it look like a rainbow.
During the summer the colors look brighter, but during the winter you can have a completely different experience since it can get partially covered by snow.
On the way up you will come across many llamas and alpacas breeders, and if you feel like the hiking is too much for you, you can rent a house to bring you to the top.
Here’s our post on the best tips for visiting Rainbow Mountain.
Manu Park Trail
Manu Park is a natural reserve located in the region of Cusco, the park protects different ecosystems, from the Andean grassland to lowland rainforests.
There are three options for tours, varying from 3 to 8 days.
It is a great opportunity for those who wish to see with their own eyes the Amazon forest.
During the trails, it is possible to watch different birds as well as other animals in their natural habitat, such as monkeys, otters, and if you are lucky enough, Jaguars.
The trails start at a high altitude, where you can observe the Andean ecosystem and continue its way down until the lowland in the Amazon forest.
For a long time it has been considered the deepest canyon in the world, with a depth of 3,270 meters.
Colca Canyon is an Andean valley with pre-Inca roots. Stepped terraces have been built around the mountains and are still used by locals today to cultivate.
Colca Canyon is famous not only for its trail, that some say is more tiring than the Inca Trail, but also for being the home of illustrious dweller, the Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world by combined measurement, with a wingspan of 3.3 meters.
To visit Colca Canyon you can leave from Arequipa, there are different options for tours and trails, from a full day tour to 3 days trek.
On the way to the canyon, you will be able to visit small towns where people of the Collagua and Cabana cultures still maintain many of their ancestral traditions.
Humantay lagoon is a mirrored turquoise lagoon hidden at the top of Humantay mountain, one of the snowy mountains considered sacred by the local people.
The lagoon is located in the Cusco region and at 4,200 meters above sea level, it can be reached as a day trip from Cusco.
The tours normally take you by bus to the town of Mollepata, the beginning of the Salcantay trail, from there you will get to the lagoon by trekking.
The trail is considered easy but it is possible to rent horses if you feel too tired on your way up.
Huacachina Buggy Trip
The only natural oasis in South America.
Huacachina is located in Ica, the Pisco region, really close to Lima and can be visited as a day trip from the capital.
The town itself is really small and doesn’t have much to offer, however, the nature surrounding it is worth a visit.
Huacachina has the biggest sand dunes of South America and has the best dune buggy and sandboarding tours in the whole continent.
Every day the city gets crowded by backpackers ready to take the buggy adventure that feels more like a rollercoaster in an infinite desert of sand!
In the middle of the tour, at some point, you stop at the top of a high dune where it is possible to admire the beauty of the desert and practice sandboard before getting on the buggy again.
A tip for those willing to get some stunning view is to take the tour close to the sunset.
Located in Arequipa, the second biggest city of Peru, El Misti is the main volcano in the region and probably the most famous of Peru due to its perfect coned-shape and snow-capped during the winter.
Misti is still active and its last eruption happened in 1985.
It is really close to the city and can be admired from the main square of Arequipa, but those willing to come closer can take the 2 days hike till its top.
Uros Floating Islands
A group of man-made islands made by the Uros, an indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia, floating in the middle of Lake Titicaca that is indeed a bucket of culture right on your face.
Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and accordingly to the Andean belief, it is where the lake gave birth to the sun as well as the birthplace of the Inca Empire.
It is believed that the Uros moved to the lake as a defensive way to avoid confrontation with Spanish troops who had seized Cusco and slaughtered other tribes.
Nowadays they live on forty-two islands made of totora, a local plant similar to the Egyptian reed.
The islands can be visited by boat, during the tour, it is possible to have contact with the local people and learn about their daily life.
The islands also offer a hotel for those interested in staying overnight, another possibility is to take the two days trip which includes staying with a local family for the night.