5 Experiences Every Traveler Should Have While Visiting Peru

There's more to this South American country than just Machu Picchu.

By: Hillary + Matt + Save to a List

Looking to see spectacular Inca walls that have withstood earthquakes, conquest and reconstruction? How about scale an Andean peak so high it literally takes your breath away? Or maybe, if food is more your interest, sample a glass of chicha found in some tucked away countryside bar marked with a red flag out front. 

Southeastern Peru, once known only as the gateway to Machu Picchu, has for the last couple of years, witnessed an explosion of interest by foreign travelers seeking both adventure and culture from their trip. And we can thank Hiram Bingham, the enterprising Yale professor who "discovered" Machu Picchu in 1911, for that.

Though it's probably most well known as the birthplace of "the Lost City of the Inca," there are so many more reasons to explore this country. You can do it on your own or use a tour company (we used O.A.R.S.). In the meantime, we've compiled a list to get you started on your Peruvian adventure!

Hike Mount Machu Picchu

Forego the sweltering heat (and the Disneyland-like crowds) and opt for a rarer glimpse of the Lost City of the Incas. Machu Picchu Mountain stands at more than 10,000 feet above sea level, towering over the famous ruins below. The trek up to its summit is an ass-kicker to be sure, but the views are unparalleled and offer a 360-degree look at the spectacular mountain scenery surrounding Machu Picchu.

Raft the Urubamba River

The Urubamba River, meaning "sacred river" in the ancient Inca tongue, was once considered a sacred reflection of the Milky Way. Today, the river is best known for its great rafting and kayaking options. The Class III rapids offer travelers another way to experience the outdoors in Peru’s Sacred Valley. 

Eat a Guinea Pig

Cuy (pronounced "kwee"), is one of Peru's most famous dishes. It's so popular, in fact, that a painting of the Last Supper inside Cusco's Cathedral Basilica features the dish front and center. While it might seem unconventional to some, this indigenous mammal has been a staple in Peruvians' diets for thousands of years. (It even has its own national holiday on the second Friday of October.)

Pay Tribute to the Pachamama

Chicha de jora, once a sacred drink of the Incas, can now be found in small household bars dotting the countryside of Peru. Traditionally, the corn drink is first offered to the Pachamama, or Mother Earth, by pouring some out on the ground below before drinking. This act signifies gratitude for the fertile land in which the corn was grown and harvested. Then, the drinker salutes the mountains by raising the glass to the sky and blows three times. Only then can the drinker take a sip. 

Zipline Through the Amazon

Located at the edge of Peru's Amazon Jungle, the Cola de Mono Zip Line (also known as Flying Fox), is one of South America´s highest and longest zips lines. Here, you'll soar from peak to peak on six cables. The farthest section is more than 8,000 feet across. The approach to reach the zip line is steep and the conditions most often are humid, so make sure to take your time to reach the beginning of the tour and drink plenty of water.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


The Adventurous Route to Machu Picchu

Madalyne Staab

A New Airport Near Machu Picchu?

Kyle Frost

Why Backpacking the Inca Trail Is Better Than Machu Picchu Itself

Katie Y

Trekking to Machu Picchu Without a Guide

Sean O'Brien

Peru’s Salt Ponds Left Us Drooling

How Far From Home