Peru – there is so much more than Machu Picchu

by on 23rd April, 2018

Typical dress Colca Valley


When most people hear of Peru the first thing that comes to mind is Machu Picchu. The lost city of the Incas is the best-known archaeological site on the continent and the main reason why in high season over 2500 people visit daily.

The most popular trek in that part of the world is the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and this has to be controlled by a permit system limited to 500 per day and sold on a first come first served basis. Spaces usually sell out early, so they need to be booked between 2 and 5 months in advance, especially April to October, when demand for places is high.

However, Peru is much more than Machu Picchu.  Here are some of the Andean Trails Team’s favourites for you to consider:


Cordillera Blanca

500 km north of Lima is the Cordillera Blanca (White mountain range), where you will find an impressive concentration of 6000m peaks. The Huascarán National Park, established in 1975, encompasses almost the entire range of the Cordillera Blanca. Here, as well as stunning scenery, there is abundant flora and fauna including the Andean condor, the vicuña, the white-tailed deer, the puma and even the spectacled bear. The area is also culturally rich with fascinating ruins of Inca and several pre-Inca cultures.

Most visit to this area centre around the town of Huaraz and popular treks include the Santa Cruz trek and the Huayahuash circuit.

This area is a particular favourite of Kathy’s.

She says: “I enjoy wandering around remote Inca sites far from the crowds at Machu Picchu.

One of my favourite Inca sites is at Huánuco Viejo, at 3,600 m,  en route to the Huayhuash circuit – not far from Huaraz.

This vast Inca site was built as an administrative centre on the main Inca road that ran between Cusco in Peru and Quito in Ecuador.

The site is on a high plateau with gorges on all sides, and boasts lovely mountain views.

There is rarely anyone there and you can wander as you please, take a picnic and enjoy this beautiful place.”

Urus Morraine, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Urus Morraine


Cordillera Vilcanota/Ausangate Massif

Head 100 Km south east of Cusco and you are suddenly off the beaten path and into the majestic Cordillera Vilcanota range of mountains which includes the massive Nevado de Ausangate (6,385m) and three others over 6000m.

Some may have seen photos of a muticoloured hill commonly known as the Rainbow Mountain (Vinicuna) which is in this area. Popular treks include our 5 day Ausangate camping trek and with more comfort the Ausangate Lodge to Lodge.

This is Kat Dougal’s number one choice in Peru.

She says: ” I love the Ausangate mountains for trekking – the lodge-based trek I did really took me away from it all, into truly stunning scenery and we had so much contact with the local community who work at (and own)  the lodges. It was 5 days that really made me switch of and get immersed. I’d be back in a flash. ”

Trekkers at Rainbow Mountain on Ausangate trek Peru colourful rock

Rainbow Mountain


Colca Valley

200 Km north west of Arequipa is the Colca Valley and Canyon.  The local people keep their ancient traditions alive and you will find a fusion of Spanish and pre-Colombian culture on show. The beautiful pre-Inca stepped terraces continue to be cultivated. The valley is a great place to acclimatize and is a popular stop off on our Peru Highlights itinerary –  visited between Arequipa and Lake Titicaca. Those looking for something tougher can try the Colca Canyon Trek.

This was one of Alan’s first ports of call on his first ever trip to Peru.

He says: “The Colca Valley was a great introduction to Peru. The drive from Arequipa had me glued to the window just watching the mountains pass by and spotting the vicuñas and llamas.

It was a fantastic place to get acclimatized and I took my time to explore,  visiting typical towns, bathing in hot springs and capping it all, condor spotting at the mouth of the Colca Canyon. I was challenged gastronomically as I am a bit of a fuss pot and here I had my first taste of alpaca.”

Andean condor flying Colca Canyon Peru

Condors at Colca Canyon



The Amazon rainforest covers 60 % of the Peruvian land mass. It is also one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth with the largest number of bird species in the world and the third-largest number of mammals. The wildlife in the rainforest is much more timid than that which you will find on the African plains and what you spot, whether it be a jaguar or a capibara will depend on what the forest decides to reveal to you!

There are different options to visit this region which range from comfortable remote lodges such as the Tambopata Research Centre or more rustic itineraries which include camping such as the Manu Explorer Camping Trip.

This is Tom’s must see destination in Peru.

He says: ” A favourite experience of mine in Peru is the cannopy towers in the Amazon, at sunrise or sunset. A quick, 5-minute climb up some stairs puts you 30-50m up and above the rainforest canopy, and from here you get documentary-style views over the trees. You might come face to a face sloth, see toucans and macaws flying or find yourself among a troupe of passing monkeys.Peaceful, unique and worth all the travel time to see this view.


Macaw clay lick

Much More

And the list goes on with Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Gocta and more.

Contact Andean Trails now to start planning your much more than Machu Picchu Peruvian adventure.



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