Though Machu Picchu is far and away its biggest claim to fame, when it comes to adventures, Peru is so much more than a one-trick pony. It’s a country ripe with natural wonders that run the gamut from towering Andean mountains and remote Amazon rainforests to planet Earth’s deepest canyons and 1,400+ miles of chilly Pacific coastline. Needless to say, there’s a lot to get lost in. Give yourself enough time to adequately uncover all that this mid-sized Spanish-speaking country has to offer and you’ll be blown away by not only the variety, but the sheer scope of the Peruvian wilderness. Heard enough generalizations? Good, then let’s get down to some specifics.
While the more manageable mountains of south-central Peru get the majority of the foot traffic, the Himalayan-esque peaks of Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash in the western Ancash Region are the country’s true mountaineering marvels. Aesthetic profundity aside, these mastiffs consistently top out above 6,000 meters, with Huascaran and Yerupaja reaching heights of 6,746 m and 6,617 m respectively. You’ve also got the volcano-strewn Arequipa Region to the far south, with plenty of formidable hiking and climbing challenges such as 6,000+ m peaks Coropuna and Chachani. If you’re still set on hitting up the mountains of the Cusco Region, consider supplementing a hike to the Lost City with treks over or around nearby Ausangate and Salkantay, which add a lot more altitude to your cultural mountain excursions. All told, there are over 30 high peaks in this magnificent landmass.
But far be it from us to paint Peru’s adventures so lopsidedly. If mountains aren’t your thing, try tackling the opposite extreme. Several hours north of Arequipa you’ll find the world’s deepest canyon (Cotahuasi) and one that falls just short of that distinction (Colca). These two cracks, along with the rivers that carved them, provide both visceral excitement and sublime beauty for those exploring both on foot and by raft. And speaking of white water thrills, you’ve got several other world class options to choose from in Peru, including the incredible Rio Apurimac not far from Machu Picchu. Prefer your water with a splash of salt and a few monster waves? Then you’ve come to the right place, where surf destinations range from can’t miss (Chicama, Mancora and Chiclayo to the northwest) to not bad (Lima). Combine this with the possibility of sandboarding in the La Huacachina Oasis, wildlife excursions into the massive and untapped wilderness of the Manu Rainforest and hikes to one of the world’s tallest and most remote waterfalls (Gocta) and you begin to understand what makes this country so absolutely incredible. Now get moving!