What we love about Peru is that it offers an incredibly diverse range of activities and ecosystems, plus amazingly warm and welcoming people. Whether you seek history, culture, wildlife, or scenery, Peru can deliver an exquisite array of experiences that will leave you with an incredible sense of appreciation and understanding. From rugged coasts and lush valleys, to towering mountains and Amazonian jungles, Peru enchants even the most experienced travelers. While Peru’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, it is still possible to uncover authentic Peru.

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Peru’s diverse landscapes cover over half a million square miles, from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes and into the Amazon basin. Roughly split between coastal, highland and interior jungle areas, the country has a landscape (or landscapes) for every traveler.

The coastline stretches 1,500 miles, north to south, with Lima, the capital city, set in the middle. We suggest spending a day or two exploring Lima, with its ocean vistas. The city is chockfull of Peru’s best restaurants, as well as the must-see Museo Larco, an 18th century colonial mansion housing more than 50,000 ceramic artifacts.

Heading east toward the Andes lies the ancient Incan city of Cusco. These days the city bustles, split between its rich cultural heritage and its role as a contemporary tourist hub. Sitting at an elevation of 11,152 feet, it takes a few days to fully adjust to the altitude, but the effort is worth it. The beautiful Andes tower over the famed Sacred Valley, where travelers shop for artisan’s wares and admire the colorful dress of the locals. Be sure to take note of the Inca and pre-Inca citadels that dot the landscape.

Machu Picchu is a must for most travelers. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a multi-day trek to the celebrated citadel along the Inca Trail or Salkantay. For serious trekkers with more time, include a trek to Choquequirao; or continue north to the Cordillera Blanca, a rigorous route through the world’s highest tropical mountain range.

South of Macchu Picchu, travelers have the option to experience various outdoor and cultural activities. From Lake Titicaca, known both for its beauty and its inhabitants, who steadfastly maintain their traditional lifestyles, to the awe-inspiring Nazca lines, to the Colca Canyon (one of the deepest in the world), to Arequipa, Peru’s old colonial capital, there’s so much more to explore.

If you’re on the lookout for wildlife, try the dense foliage and yawning rivers of the Amazon. Cruise along the waterways in search of pink dolphins; or trek through the jungle to appreciate the staggering biodiversity found there. For the adventurous, kayak or paddleboard on the river.

Peru’s diversity is not limited to its geography though. Over the centuries, various indigenous peoples have called Peru home. Learn about the country’s rich history or hear about the experiences of the contemporary Quechua people and their longstanding traditions. While the Inca ruins are exceptional and a must-do, don’t forget about the remnants of the Wari, Moche, Chimu and other pre-Inca civilizations.

Secrets and Tips

  • Arrange a flight over the Nazca Desert to see the lines from above.
  • Chew on coca leaves or drink coca tea to alleviate altitude sickness.
  • Take a traditional Incan cooking class.

Good To Know

Home to the lost city of Machu Picchu – Explore jungles of the Amazon - Magnificent Andean Mountain vistas

Frequently Asked Questions

The Sacred Valley is exceptional and one of our favorite destinations. Whether you drive with a private guide or spend a few days on foot trekking the surrounding mountains, ancient history is found around every corner. This is also where you can visit the citadel of Machu Picchu, perched high up among the clouds!

To feel like you are in another world, visit the Amazon to experience mysterious jungles, a spectacular array of wildlife and learn about the only indigenous cultures never conquered by the Inca or the Spanish. 

Peru is a great option for active travelers who are also interested in art, culture, history or food. The richness of Inca and pre-Inca civilizations, as well as the Spanish influence on the indigenous culture and architecture makes for fascinating touring. The country offers dramatic landscapes of all varieties with activities suitable for varied skill levels; mountain buffs can test themselves at high altitude, or simply enjoy a more leisurely cycle through the countryside. As a bonus, foodies will enjoy the delicious cooking using fresh ingredients.

If you are looking for a vacation where you won’t have to lift a finger, or leave your secluded resort, Peru is not for you. Whether you are hiking Machu Picchu, paddle boarding in the Amazon, or horseback riding in the Andes, a sense of excitement, adventure, and energy must be present. This destination simply cannot be properly explored without venturing out into the great unknown, and it takes the right attitude to do so.

Travelers who struggle with higher altitudes might also find the mountains of Peru challenging but there’s always the beautiful coastlines or Amazon jungle. For most people, it takes a few days to acclimate; thereafter, they are generally fine. Additionally, if culture and history are not a prime focus for you, then Peru might not be the right destination.

Note: Peru is a large country and many of the destinations that you might want to see are a fair distance from each other. To make the most of any trip, you’ll likely want to fly between your various destinations.

Note: While Peru has lots of luxury offerings, there are significant wealth disparities and you should be expect to encounter such disparities during your trip. 

There are two distinct seasons in Peru – wet and dry. However, weather will vary depending on which region you are visiting as the highlands, tropical rainforests, and deserts can be quite unique. The dry season, characterized by sunny days and chilly nights, coincides with peak season, from about May through October (and remember that even the dry season can experience occasional showers). June through August are the busiest months, so if you can manage to use your vacation days on the shoulder periods of April/May or September/October, you would be avoiding the worst of the crowds. The peak season pops back up again around our holiday season, from mid-December to early-January. Don’t forget that high altitude brings colder temperatures, so pack appropriately!

The wet season, from November through April, can bring the hot and humid days (though nights can still get chilly) and a high chance of heavy rainfall. The wettest months are January, February, and March, when multi-day treks to Machu Picchu are discouraged. In fact, most trails are closed for maintenance in February, so if the Inca Trail is your goal, then this is the wrong time to visit.

The coast generally stays dry and hot anytime making it a year-round destination. Therefore, Peruvian beaches and deserts can be a good add-on no matter which month you depart. The Amazon is hot and humid year-round and can experience showers anytime, giving it a rainy season and a “rainier” season. January and February bring higher water levels and slightly higher temperatures (reaching mid-90’s). It’s still a great time to visit the Amazon because the wildlife is very active, but you’ll have to feel comfortable sporting a poncho. 

Since Peru is quite a large country and encounters such a topographic range, weather in one part of the country can be completely different from another. So any month of the year you wish to travel, we can be sure you’re visiting the most appropriate location to compliment your calendar. However, in general the dry season is the safest bet if you are looking to combine Machu Picchu with any other location. We recommend months which have good weather and also tend to have (slightly) fewer crowds. January and February are the rainiest months, and hiking (especially the multi-day hikes) around Machu Picchu can become hazardous. In February the Inca Trail closes completely for safety and maintenance.

The diversity of property types in Peru is immense, so depending on the type of experience you are searching for, each trip cost will be different. To take advantage of the boutique hotels that are both unique and ethically responsible, as well as top of the line private excursions, a weeklong trip can start at around $6,000 per person. 

Peru’s landscape lends itself to scenic drives and plane rides, but you can also expect to hike, canoe, kayak, horseback ride, or boat your way through this incredible country. Privately guided city tours and day-trip excursions to the countryside are great ways to experience the history and charm of the country.  Venturing on one’s own into the small towns can be a worthwhile way to spend the day and learn about local Andean culture. Couple this with incredible options for multi-day trekking throughout the Andes, scenic train rides and a relaxing dip in one of the many hot springs. 

CONNECT with your personal travel expert.

Have you started planning your safari on your own? Are you totally overwhelmed with all the informationout there? Let us help you cut through all the conflicting information online and start planning a safari that is completely tailored to you. Get in touch with us and we can discuss your travel passions and help you begin the planning process for your dream safari.

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Elizabeth Gordon