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Things to do in Peru
I may be one of the only travellers who went to Peru and didn't see Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Am I crazy? Kind of, only I didn't organize the trip. What I did see, however, are some fascinating Peruvian attractions, so in a way it's a good thing - these lesser-visited attractions weren't overshadowed by a life-changing trip to Machu Picchu. Another plus is that I learned there are a lot of wonderful things to do in Peru. Top top it off, I now have the perfect reason for going back.
On the downside, I didn't see Machu Picchu. Waaah!
Nonetheless, if you're looking for some fascinating things to do in Peru, take a look at this list of my favourites.
Things to do in Peru
- Clearly, the number one attraction in Peru is to visit Machu Picchu. You only have to take a look at a MachuPicchu Instagram hashtag to see that.
- Fly over the Nazca Lines. Let me just say, these weirdly advanced ancient geometric lines that crisscross the Naza Desert of Peru and form a number of figures like a great huge spider, a monstrous monkey and a humungous hummingbird (not to mention a little guy who looks like an alien), are one of the ancient mysteries of the world. Believed to have been created by a pre-inca civilization, their true purpose is unknown. They're so big they can only be seen by flying over them, and just FYI: You're pretty much guaranteed to feel queasy during the 35-minute flight.
- Get high in Lake Titicaca (no, not that kind of high). The highest navigable lake in the world, mythical Lake Titicaca is also the largest in South America. A unique thing to do at Lake Titicaca is to visit the 'floating islands' near the lakeside town of Puno, more than 60 manmade islands created entirely from totora reeds. These 'floating islands' are home to the Uros people, also known as 'Lake People.' They were built as a safe place for the Uros people to live, that could be moved quickly during any threats of invasion. Warning: You may suffer altitude sickness until you get acclimatized. I did. Believe it or not, the cure is coca leaf tea.
- Hike into the Amazon Forest. For me, visiting the Amazon was the highlight of my trip to Peru. An excursion into the old growth Amazon rainforest is surely one of the top things to do in the country. We started in Iquitos, where we travelled upriver to a lodge. From our base, we travelled deep into the primal forest, fished for pyrannas (no, I didn't catch one), trekked, cruised around searching for pink dolphins, visited members of the Yagua tribe, did a healing with a shamen and generally just soaked up the amazing power of the primordial forest. (Personally, I can't even see how Machu Picchu could top this.)
- Dine well in Lima. I was a little nervous to visit Lima, but was pleasantly surprised at how lovely some of the parks, squares and buildings were. I was even more surprised by the how elegant some of the restaurants were. Whatever your budget, you will no doubt be eating a lot of tuna ceviche and drinking the national alcoholic beverage, the Pisco Sour. If you want to drink in the shadow of Hemingway, try the Gran Hotel Bolivar.