One of the things on my bucket list is to visit all 7 continents, so I knew I wanted to go to South America one day but I always thought my first time would be going to Brazil or Argentina or something—Peru was pretty low on the list! But Peru completely surprised and awed me and, I can now not only cross another continent off my list, but also a Wonder of the World (of course I want to see all 7 of those, too). Here are the most amazing things you should experience in Peru!
M A C H U P I C C H U
I promise you, I vow to you, it’s more incredible than what you’ve seen in pictures. Imagine this forgotten, secret city built (incredibly) at the peak of the Andes at almost 8,000 ft. above sea level. Now try to tell me the Incas weren’t an amazing civilization!
To get there we flew into Cusco and took a 3 hour train ride (Inca Rail, you can buy your tickets at the airport) to Aguas Calientes. That’s the nearest town to Machu Picchu and we got a hotel there. From there it’s about a 2-3 hour hike to Machu Picchu, and you can still hike even higher to all the different places within the ancient citadel (Machu Picchu is enormous! Remember, it was once a thriving city).
I N C A R A I L
Many people decide to hike the famous Inca Trail (the full one is about a week of hiking up to Machu Picchu) but we were only there for a week and wanted to maximize time. The Inca Rail is the most beautiful train ride I’ve ever taken, rivaled only by the train that cuts through the Swiss Alps. You will not want to tear yourself away from the window for the entire 3 hours. The train is not cheap, but it’s totally worth it for the priceless view and how close it gets you to Machu Picchu.
R A I N B O W M O U N T A I N
I’ll be honest, I first became interested in this spot for the cool pictures I’d be able to take, but hiking Rainbow Mountain ended up being one of the most cathartic experiences of my life. Again, rivaled only by the Swiss Alps, the view from the top (a mere 17,000 ft., if you can believe it) will blow your mind.
We took a 3 hour tour bus ride from Cusco (you can buy tickets at the airport when you arrive or at any travel agency in the city center) and then hiked about an hour up to the peak. You can either hike or go up on horseback. Be prepared…the air is THIN. Expect to be lightheaded, short of breath, and pushed to the limit! But also be prepared to touch heaven, walk with angels, and glimpse the deepest levels of your soul—you won’t return home the same after Rainbow Mountain.
C U S C O
I had never even heard of the city and was surprised to find a beautiful town with impressive architecture, exquisite food, parades, music, shops, and more. Definitely stay in the city center if you go so you can wander around exploring Cusco. You have to try the pisco sour!
L I M A
Candidly, the only reason my husband and I visited Lima is because we missed our flight out! In the end I was so glad we did, though, as Lima was spectacular. Ok, when you first walk out of the Lima airport you will not be impressed. But, if you hop into a taxi and drive maybe 15-20 minutes to the coast, you’ll find some really beautiful beaches with delicious seafood restaurants and ice cream shops right on the boardwalk. The rocky beaches, colonies of baby crabs, and misty oceanfront makes it seem like you’re on another planet. As for the city of Lima, definitely visit the city center—you could practically be in Madrid for the impressive Spanish colonial architecture you’ll find there. Great food, cool music, vibrant nightlife (and the catacombs were pretty interesting, too). Plenty to see and do!
I hope you visit one day and share your own experience with me.
Thanks for reading and keep on flying!
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