You’ve Conquered Machu Picchu – Now What?
Peru has something to satisfy every type of traveller.
I bet if you ask anyone what they think of when you say, “Peru”, they’ll reply “Machu Picchu”.
And rightly so. A journey to Machu Picchu is an incredible experience, but it’s not the only thing that Peru has to offer – there is so much more to explore in this country, and something to satisfy every type of traveller.
We’ve compiled a list of things to do after a visit to Machu Picchu, depending on what you’re looking for once you’ve conquered the mountain.
#1 To Explore A New City, Visit Arequipa
Arequipa is Peru’s second-most-populous city; it’s one-tenth the size of Lima, but it packs as big a punch in terms of cuisine, history and cultural experiences. It’s a must-stop destination for foodies in particular, thanks to its impressive range of restaurants.
In Arequipa, you’ll find plenty of places to try new and interesting types of cuisine, like Sonccollay, which specialises in pre-Incan cuisine. If you’re lucky, the charismatic and informative owner will even let you jump in the kitchen and help cook your own meal.
The city is framed by three volcanoes, including the better known ‘El Misti’ – the most easily accessible summit of its size anywhere in the world. There are plenty of tour companies that organise guided overnight treks so you can reach the summit in time to see the sun rise.
#2 To Get Back To Nature, Visit Paracas
Visiting Paracas is kind of like travelling through a time warp to a retro fishing village with a Latin twist. It’s known for its beaches and sea lions, and as the starting point for visiting nearby Islas Ballestas, or the “poor man’s Galapagos”.
The nearby Paracas National Reserve is incredible and, like Islas Ballestas, should not be missed. There are organised tours that you can do, but the best way to explore is by bicycle. The park is a real mix bag of attractions, including a red sand beach, impressive land formations, a variety of wildlife, and a mysterious prehistoric carving of a candelabra on the coastline.
And, if you love ceviche, you’re in the right place. There are plenty of local restaurants in Paracas with turistico menus that offer a set price for a few dishes, and they almost always include ceviche.
#3 For Adventures, Visit Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon is one of the most popular trekking destinations in Peru, and the best place in South America to see condors in the world (an eagle-like vulture, but with more badass wings). The Colca Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon, and is framed by traditional, colorful towns.
Peru Hop offers a variety of tours depending on how active you are and what you want to get out of the experience. Otherwise, self-guided tours can be done, just make sure you bring plenty of water and plan accordingly because there are no proper roads.
#4 For Chilling On The Beach, Visit Máncora
Yep, Peru has beaches! Máncora beach has big waves, so it attracts a large amount of surfers and tourists. Despite being a bit of a resort town, it’s a beautiful place for a relaxing holiday.
If you prefer the surf look over actual surfing, the beach seemingly stretches forever, so you’ll find plenty of space to bliss out by yourself.
#5 For Instagram Game, Visit Vinicunca
For many years Vinicunca was hidden under a thick layer of ice, but rising temperatures revealed the multi-coloured mountain wonder to the world.
The best way to reach the summit is with the help of a local guide who knows the terrain and the local language, Quechua. Llama Path organises a full-day tour which will take you through quaint towns and herds of llamas, yielding plenty of content to keep your ‘gram game strong.
#6 When You’re Sick Of Peru, Visit Bolivia
First of all, I don’t believe you’re sick of Peru. But, secondly, if you’ve made it all the way to Peru, I highly recommend you take the time to visit Lake Titicaca and cross the border to Bolivia for an even more immersive cultural experience.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and the largest lake in South America. Other than being a pretty spectacular place to visit, there are plenty of towns and attractions to visit on both the Peruvian and the Bolivia sides pf the border – including the 42 islands made completely out of living reeds.
Overnight buses to Puno (on the Peruvian side) leave from Cuzco, Arequipa and Lima, or you can fly from major cities. You can then either stay and explore from there, or organise a bus that will take you over the border to Copacabana.
(Lead image: Eder Fortunato / Flickr)