Millions of visitors come to Peru every year to see major attractions such as Machu Picchu and exciting cities like Cusco. But Peru, sitting on the west coast of South America, has so much more to offer. Getting off the beaten track in Peru gives you the chance to see lesser-known highlights.
Getting off the beaten track in Peru means heading away from the usual hot-spots of Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley. Accessing off-beat attractions can sometimes require a little extra effort and know-how, but it will be well worth it and the rewards will be great. Many little-visited places can be reached by car or by pre-arranged guided tour, though to reach the Amazon jungle in the north of Peru, you’ll need to fly into the small city of Iquitos first.
Peru's off the beaten track experiences are as diverse and impressive as the country itself, from high-altitude treks to tranquil islands, and the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon.
Tucked away in the remote north of Peru is Kuelap, an ancient citadel that was built around the 6th century, making it three times older than Machu Picchu. The ruins can be visited by hiking from the nearby town of Chachapoyas.
Located in the same region as Machu Picchu, but far less frequently visited, is the Qoylloriti Sanctuary, where the Qoylloriti pilgrimage takes place every year. This sacred festival is linked to Catholicism but has its roots in ancient Incan traditions.
Lake Titicaca is well-known for its natural beauty, but for a lesser-known treat, visitors should head to Taquile Island. This small, quiet island has no cars and no phone signal, and is the ideal spot to experience authentic Peruvian culture.
In the far north of Peru is part of the vast Amazon jungle. Here visitors can hike in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, where they can admire diverse flora and fauna, including pink river dolphins.
The impressive sarcophagi at Karajia, a remote mountain near the city of Chachapoyas, are the legacy of the Chachapoya people. The Chachapoya once controlled a nation in the Amazon cloud forest and left behind these mesmerizing painted statues on the cliff face.
When traveling off the beaten track in Peru, altitude is a major consideration. Much of the country is mountainous, and some of its remote destinations can be found above 8,000 or even 10,000 feet. Visitors should take time to acclimatize to these heights, and watch for symptoms of altitude sickness.