Peru is a fantastic destination for combining a little bit of everything. Despite being a haven for the adventurous of spirits, this isn’t to suggest that Peru cannot provide the much desired luxury that many travellers crave. Not only does the country have a large selection of premium hotels to relax in, but it is also fast becoming one of the world’s gastronomic hotspots, offering gourmet food that is sure to compete as a highlight of your holiday. For those that can’t resist the notion of golden beaches, Peru’s northern shores are sure to provide all the sun, sea and pisco sours that you could wish to have. Alternatively, for a little more adventure, the various treks to Machu Picchu or an excursion to the Amazon Jungle is sure to leave to leave you breathless. We have compiled some of our favourite experiences in Peru that make it a wonderful luxury travel destination.
Experience the wonder that is Machu Picchu
Let us start with the obvious – no visit to Peru is complete without setting your eyes on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. The lost city of Machu Picchu (translating to Old Mountain) was completely self-contained, with chasquis (the Peruvian word for a messenger) holding spots along what is now known as the Inca Trail to ensure that communications existed. The cloud-shrouded ruins encompass temples, baths and houses, some still in a remarkable state of preservation. The mystical area remained undiscovered by the outside world until 1911 when American explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon the ruins while searching for a different lost city.
There are various options to reach Machu Picchu – the most luxurious being the Vistadome train with panoramic windows showing the stunning landscape as you drift through the mountains. For those who want more of a challenge, the Inca Trail is the most popular walking route, closely followed by the Lares and Salkantay treks. Note that the Inca Trail has no accommodation and so camping is essential, however the Salkantay Trek offers hotels and lodges for a more upmarket hiking experience.
Fly over the Nazca Lines
To say Peru is a country shrouded in mystery is spot on, and that brings us to our next fascinating adventure – the Nazca Lines. These massive geoglyphs were formed by making incisions into the rich soil of the Nazca desert and it’s thought that they were created between 500 BCE and 500 CE. While some lines run straight along the landscape, others are merged to create shapes of animals and plants. Due to the remote location and stable climate, the lines have naturally been very well preserved. The first mention of the mysterious shapes was back in 1553, where they were simply considered trail markers. Over the centuries, countless historians and archaeologists have attempted to determine the purpose of the lines. One of the most favoured proposals is that they were created to determine the position of the sun and other celestial bodies while others argue that they were formed so that they could be seen by the deities.
A flight over the Nazca lines is the best and only way to experience the sheer size of them. Prices start from around 100 USD per person, however if you want a private flight for your party, you’ll be looking at more.
Stay in a luxury lodge in the Amazon jungle
For the ultimate nature experience, not many adventures can top a stay in the heart of the Amazon Jungle. Considered the most biodiverse place on earth, the beautiful rainforest is home to around 600 species of birds, 1200 types of butterflies and more than 300 reptiles, amongst many other lurking mammals. Hire a local guide and learn all about the flora and fauna that coexist in the jungle and enjoy unique experiences such as piranha fishing, jungle walkways and river cruises. The Incaterra Reserva Amazonica is one of the finest eco-lodges on the Peruvian side of the jungle and offers luxury cabanas in the heart of nature. Awaken to the sounds of the wildlife, enjoy breakfast with fantastic jungle views and relax in the on-sight spa as you unwind in one of the most peaceful places on earth.
Visit the best restaurants of Lima
Peru offers a variety of delicious cuisine and Lima is where you’ll find the country’s best restaurants. The swankiest establishments can be found in Miraflores and San Isidro – including popular haunts like Maido which was voted the best restaurant in South America in both 2017 and 2018, as well as making the top ten restaurants in the world in 2019. Popular dishes to impress your tastebuds include fresh ceviche, grilled fish and other delightful seafood platters. Due to Lima’s location on the coast, it boasts some of the best seafood in South America. Of course visitors must also try a pisco sours, the most popular alcoholic drink in the country. A refreshing blend of pisco liquor, lime juice, egg white and syrup, they are offered on menus across Peru. Visit one of Lima’s many rooftop bars to enjoy a cocktail with a view, or book onto a pisco sours making class to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Hike to the Cordillera Blanca mountain range
The stunning Cordillera Blanca mountain range is similar to the scenery found in the depths of Patagonia. Part of the Andes mountain range, they extend for 200 kilometres and supply parts of northern Peru with water year-round. Many say the area is one of Peru’s best kept secrets, as most visitors head straight to Machu Picchu or the Amazon Jungle. Huaraz is the small town nestled in the Cordillera Blanca and used as a gateway to the mountains and hiking trails. From Lima, you’re looking at around an eight hour bus journey to reach the town, however there are quite a few bus companies that offer this, including Cruz del Sur and Movil Tours. Of course, you can look into a private transfer too. There are walks for all levels of hikers and photographers will fall in love with the untouched, wild landscape. Huaraz is small, yet there is a decent selection of luxury boutique hotels to choose from.
Matt Gannan is the CEO and Owner of Tucan Travel. Tucan Travel operate cultural tours in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Asia and Europe, as well as tailor-made holidays in Latin America, Africa and Asia.