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Things to do in Peru

Peru - Discovering Destinations

Popular Beaches in Peru

Punta Sal Beach, Máncora

Experience the epitome of tropical bliss at Punta Sal, Peru’s picture-perfect paradise. Stretching over four miles, this pristine crescent-shaped beach boasts soft white sand and warm, calm sapphire-blue waters. Divided into Sal Chica and Sal Grande, Punta Sal offers a tranquil escape, free from the bustling waves, making it an ideal retreat for families and those seeking relaxation.

Just a 20-minute taxi ride from Máncora, Punta Sal welcomes visitors with cozy houses for rent, excellent hostels, and enticing seafood eateries. Explore the vibrant marine life with whale watching opportunities, as humpback whales, killer whales, and dolphins grace the warmer currents. Indulge in water adventures with jet skis, kayaks, and horseback rides along the coast. With its inviting breeze, this northern gem is a haven for fishing and diving enthusiasts.

Revel in the quiet nights away from the bustle of Máncora, and from June to October, witness the majestic humpback whales from the shore. Punta Sal, nestled along the Tumbes region, invites you to discover its serene shores and unforgettable experiences.

Punta Sal Beach - Discovering Destinations
Mancora Beach Discovering Destinations

Máncora Beach, Sullana

Embrace the vibrant energy of Máncora, where the rhythmic waves tell the tale of a tranquil fishing village that has blossomed into a bustling beach and surfing haven. Situated in the Piura region of northern Peru, Máncora attracts budget backpackers, surf enthusiasts, and those seeking an alternative coastal vibe.

The town pulses with life, drawing surfers and partygoers alike to its sun-kissed shores and ideal kite-surfing conditions. Yet, if you lean towards comfort and a more refined ambiance, consider lodging a bit outside the lively town center. Máncora, positioned approximately 680 miles from Lima, stands as the gateway to Peru’s finest beaches and optimal surf conditions.

The party scene here is electric, the surf fantastic, but the atmosphere is defined—appealing to some and not to others. As the sun dips below the horizon, Máncora’s nightlife comes alive, with reggae beats and maracuya daiquiris echoing through the air. Whether you revel in the intense nightlife or seek the solitude of pristine beaches, Máncora promises an unforgettable Peruvian coastal experience.

Huanchaco Beach, Trujillo

Nestled along the enchanting northwest coast of Peru, a short distance from the charming colonial city of Trujillo, Huanchaco beckons as a tranquil yet captivating beach town deserving a prime spot on your Peru travel itinerary.

Flanked by the arid desert on one side and the rhythmic waves on the other, Huanchaco exudes a friendly atmosphere and embraces a laid-back surf mentality. Vibrant boulevards, traditional reed fishing boats, and a thriving surfing culture define this beach destination, now recognized as an International Surfing Reserve—one of only five in the world.

Huanchaco’s historical significance is woven into its fabric, from its founding by Spanish conquistadors in 1535 to the ancient Caballitos de Totora, reed watercraft used by fishermen for over 3,000 years. Visitors can join fishermen in their daily tasks for a unique adventure. The Santuario de la Virgen del Socorro, the second-oldest church in Peru, graces the village with panoramic views of Huanchaco Bay. With surfing schools offering lessons in sheltered waves, fishing tackle available on the pier, and a gastronomic journey featuring the birthplace of ceviche, Huanchaco unfolds as one of Peru’s premier beach towns, seamlessly blending history, culture, and coastal allure.

Huanchaco Beach - Discovering Destinations
Playa Roja Beach Discovering Destinations

Playa Roja Beach (Red Beach), Paracas

Playa Roja, nestled along the captivating cliffs of Punta Santa Maria in Paracas, stands out as a marvel of nature where the Pacific Ocean’s waves have transformed the sandy shore into a stunning canvas of rusty red hues.

This picturesque beach, situated about five hours south of Lima in the Paracas National Reserve, is a unique spectacle where the arid desert meets the sea. Beyond its captivating appearance, the reserve is a haven for diverse flora and fauna, boasting nearly 200 fish species and an abundance of birds.

Paracas, a charming beach and fishing town in the Ica region, is renowned for its relaxing vibes, sunny weather, and captivating beaches, with Playa Roja being one of the most popular. The beach’s distinctive color results from volcanic activity and the presence of iron oxide, creating a landscape of orange and reddish tones.

While swimming is prohibited at Playa Roja, visitors can revel in its beauty, take photographs, and explore nearby attractions such as the Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands for an enriching experience in nature. Whether you seek sunbathing, swimming, or photography, Playa Roja promises an unforgettable journey into the vibrant coastal wonders of Peru.

Playa los Órganos Beach, Mancora

Playa los Órganos, situated just south of the bustling beach town of Máncora, offers a tranquil retreat with a distinct ambiance. Unlike the lively atmosphere of Máncora, Órganos exudes a sense of solitude even during the peak beach season, creating an intimate experience for visitors.

While services are basic, the beach’s sublime stretch of golden sand provides an idyllic setting for swimming and sunbathing, characterized by gentle waves and a peaceful ambiance. A stroll to the pier unveils a spectacle of green turtles and pelicans congregating as fishermen return, adding a touch of wildlife to the serene coastal landscape.

It’s essential to note that outside peak season, the beach may lose some of its charm due to occasional debris—an issue prevalent along the Peruvian coast during non-holiday periods. However, Órganos holds a unique appeal a few miles offshore, making it a hub for scuba enthusiasts.

The coastal waters boast an abundance of marine life, with Muelle de los Órganos standing out as an exceptional dive site. This old oil platform turned artificial reef attracts a diverse array of fish, and its stunning corals, natural rock formations, and marine inhabitants contribute to an unforgettable underwater experience. Ideal for those seeking peace, quiet, and scuba diving, Playa los Órganos in the Piura region invites you to discover the beauty beneath its calm waves and the rich marine biodiversity of Peru’s northern coast.

Playa los Órganos Beach - Discovering Destinations

Unique Attractions - Discovering Destinations

Machu Picchu Ruins, Cuzco

Hidden within the breath taking scenery of the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, Machu Picchu Ruins stand as an awe-inspiring testament to the ingenuity and architectural prowess of the Inca Empire. Situated at an altitude of 2,430 meters, the ruins are ensconced in a tropical mountain forest, showcasing giant walls, terraces, and ramps seamlessly integrated into the natural rock escarpments. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a mystical pilgrimage site, featuring over 20 remarkably preserved structures that hint at its potential religious significance.

The archaeological marvel, constructed in the mid-15th century, remained undiscovered by the Spanish Conquistadors until 1911, preserving its mysteries and adding to its allure.

The ruins, comprising approximately 200 structures, span a steep ridge with stone terraces crisscrossing the landscape. Divided into upper and lower sections, Machu Picchu maintains a distinctive layout, blending agricultural and residential areas with a central square. Its purpose, intertwined with religious, ceremonial, and astronomical elements, continues to intrigue scholars. A train journey through the Andes offers an enchanting approach to this historical sanctuary, allowing travellers to explore the intricate temples, terraces, and plazas that have endured since the 15th century. With its captivating aura and enigmatic history, Machu Picchu remains an unparalleled destination.

Machu Picchu Ruins - Discovering Destinations
Canopy Walkway - Discovering Destinations

ACTS Field Station and Canopy Walkway -Sucusari Biological Reserve

Located deep within the heart of the Amazon rainforest, the ACTS Field Station and Canopy Walkway offer an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Napo-Sucusari Biological Reserve.

Situated amidst the lush biodiversity of the Ecuadorian Amazon, this field station serves as a gateway to an extraordinary adventure. The Canopy Walkway, a marvel of ecological engineering, elevates your rainforest experience by allowing you to traverse the treetop canopy, providing a unique perspective on the intricate web of life below.

With platforms suspended high above the forest floor, you can observe diverse bird species, playful primates, and a kaleidoscope of vibrant flora, all while guided by knowledgeable experts well-versed in the secrets of the jungle. The field station itself acts as a hub for scientific research, conservation efforts, and educational programs, allowing visitors to actively contribute to the preservation of this vital ecosystem.

Pisac Market, Sacred Valley

Nestled at an elevation just under 3,000 meters, Pisac Market is a vibrant gem in the heart of the Sacred Valley, making it a must-visit stop on your journey through Peru. Contrary to common belief, this lively market is open every day of the week, with Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays being the liveliest.

The rows of stalls burst with colorful displays, showcasing an array of handcrafted treasures made primarily from luxurious Alpaca wool. From ponchos to sweaters, bags to toys, the market exudes a lively atmosphere where local artisans and neighboring communities come together to offer a rich tapestry of products. Sundays, in particular, see an explosion of colors and diversity as vendors from various places converge to create a bustling spectacle.

Whether you’re a seasoned shopper or simply a lover of vibrant cultures, the Pisac Market is a feast for the senses. Navigate the charming cobbled streets, immerse yourself in the Andean motifs adorning alpaca textiles, and witness skilled artisans crafting silver jewelry. The market not only offers a shopping haven but also serves as a cultural crossroads, making it an enriching experience as you journey through the picturesque village of Pisac on your way to Machu Picchu.

Pisac Market Discovering Destinations
Ballestas Islands - Discovering Destinations

Ballestas Islands, Pisco

Embark on a captivating marine adventure off the coast of Paracas as you discover the enchanting Ballestas Islands, a hidden gem renowned for its diverse wildlife and stunning coastal beauty. Located a short boat ride from Paracas, these rocky islands are a haven for marine creatures such as Humboldt penguins, Guanay cormorants, and playful sea lions.

The ideal conditions fostered by the Humboldt Current create a thriving ecosystem, making it one of Peru’s premier wildlife-spotting destinations. While environmental laws prevent landing on the islands, boat tours offer an up-close experience, cruising along the perimeters, arches, and caves for unparalleled wildlife observation. As part of the Guano Islands, Islets, and Capes National Reserve System, the Ballestas Islands contribute to the rich biodiversity along Peru’s coast.

Delight in the spectacle of Peruvian pelicans, Humboldt penguins, and Peruvian boobies, which cover the islands, contributing to the valuable guano that once played a crucial role in the nation’s agriculture. Immerse yourself in this lesser-known marvel, and you’ll uncover a wealth of avian wonders, ensuring an unforgettable exploration of Peru’s southern coast.

Sacsayhuaman ruins, Cusco

Perched high above the enchanting city of Cusco, the Sacsayhuaman ruins stand as a testament to the incredible craftsmanship and strategic genius of the Inca Empire. Easily accessible from the bustling Plaza de Armas, this former Inca fortress offers an ideal introduction to the region’s rich history and captivating landscapes. As you venture to Sacsayhuaman, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marvel at the panoramic views of Cusco and the surrounding valley.

The site itself boasts three terraces meticulously crafted for fortification, showcasing the Incas’ signature precision in fitting massive stones together without mortar. The archaeological site, with colossal stone pieces weighing several hundred tons, reveals zigzagged walls extending for hundreds of feet.

Despite Spanish conquest and plunder, the awe-inspiring zigzag walls, some reaching almost 10 meters in height, remain intact, offering an extraordinary glimpse into Inca stone architecture. The site’s ceremonial significance and devotion to celestial elements, including the Royal House of the Sun, add layers of intrigue to its history. Explore the remnants of towers, natural slides, and intricate carvings, and absorb the mystical atmosphere that still lingers atop this historic hill, making Sacsayhuaman an essential stop in your Peruvian adventure.

Sacsayhuaman ruins - Discovering Destinations

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