For a long time you have been dreaming of traveling to Peru; you have done quite good research about our country and the must-see destinations you would like to visit, and suddenly, the coronavirus put all your plans on hold. Thankfully, the borders are once again open to welcome travelers back to Peru to start dreaming again.
So, you are probably asking yourself. Is it safe to travel to Peru? Which are the best places to visit in Peru after COVID-19?
At Peruvian Soul, right from the outset, we have specialized in developing private off-the-beaten-path itineraries. We have traveled extensively throughout our country, we know our rich geography, our people, and the most authentic activities, we would love to share our knowledge with you and help you answer your questions, and maybe inspire you for your next adventure.
So, where should you travel in Peru to make the most of your time? Below, you’ll find our recommendations of 11 destinations to consider, where you will avoid the crowds and make the most of your time in Peru.
#1 Amazonas & The Chachapoyas region
Located in the Northern Highlands of Peru, this area is a lesser-known destination with plenty of amazing sites and breathtaking scenery. The area is perfect for travelers willing to visit Peru, explore pre-Hispanic archaeological sites, learn ancient knowledge at rural communities, enjoy the cloud forest and avoid the crowds of tourists. Kuelap fortress and Gocta waterfall are the most well-known attractions in the area, and they are worth a visit, however, the region still has plenty of secrets hidden in the middle of the forest.
Despite what many may think, the Chachapoyas area has a few very top-end boutique hotels and a handful of amazing lodges with a profound motivation for conservation and sustainability which, in our opinion, are the perfect escape from the post-covid era. Gocta Natura, Milpuj, Tambo Sapalachan, and Rangra Wasi are three of our favorite picks.
The perfect place to reconnect with nature. This exclusive property offers five cabins in the middle of the cloud forest with a private deck and terrace to enjoy the Gocta Natura Reserve. This hotel is among our first choices, especially after covid19, since it provides our guests with exclusivity and privacy, while letting them enjoy the beautiful views of the Gocta waterfall and the opportunity to enjoy the hiking trails and wildlife of this private Reserve for yourself.
Milpuj Private Reserve
On the other hand, Milpuj is a unique property run by Lola and Perico, mother and son, who decided to leave the bustling city of Lima to dedicate their lives to the conservation of 80 hectares of the seasonally dry forest ecosystem in the Amazon region. Nowadays, this private reserve is not only the house of 80 species of birds and 16 species of mammals but a private retreat for travelers willing to enjoy a unique stay, while supporting a conservation project. Read the full article about this fantastic place.
Last but not least, Rangra Wasi is an ecolodge located in the surroundings of Leymebamba, a few minutes away from the Leymebamba museum that houses 200 mummies rescued from grave robbers from the nearby Lake of the Condors. Rangra Wasi offers just four private bungalows, each of them overlooking the beautiful Utcubamba valley. Organic food from their gardens is served in their lovely dining room with an open kitchen, or you can have your meals on the open terrace while observing the many hummingbirds that call this place their home. This owner-run property offers exclusivity and personalized service, which makes this an excellent option to consider.
Browse all our top itineraries in Northern Peru.
#2 Pacaya Samiria National Reserve on an intimate river cruise
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most special places in Peru. Enjoying all its magic onboard a luxury and intimate cruise along the river in the Amazon while exploring the jungle is just a perfect plan! After months of being kept in quarantine, this is a great travel idea to reconnect with nature while enjoying an exclusive stay in a small luxury cruise in the Amazon Rainforest. Picture yourself with all your family cruising the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, swimming with pink dolphins, hiking in the jungle discovering new species while getting pampered on board with a glass of wine and enjoying the sunset.
El Delfin I
For small families or groups, we strongly recommend chartering the small and exclusive Delfin I with only four luxury rooms aboard so you and your loved ones can have an intimate experience cruising the Amazon with all the comfort of world-class accommodation.
El Delfin III
El Delfin III is a right choice for travelers seeking modern luxury and extra services such as a beautiful outdoor lounge, a sundeck with a plunge pool, a spa, and a gym. The cruise is much bigger and allows up to 44 travelers on luxury cabins with floor to ceiling panoramic windows so that you can enjoy the best views of the so-called “jungle of the mirrors”. Click here to see how the itinerary looks like.
Cruising the Pacaya Samiria is fascinating all year-round. During the rainy season, 85% of the reserve is flooded, making it only accessible by boat and allowing travelers to probe further into the Amazon and closer to the top of the trees, while during low water season, the jungle allows more exploration on foot. Despite when you decide to come and which cruise you choose, Pacaya Samiria will surprise you with its biodiversity and once in a lifetime experience.
#3 Lake Titicaca & community-based tourism
If you’re looking for a place to clear your mind, breathe fresh air, and enjoy peace and tranquility, you should consider traveling to Lake Titicaca. Imagine rowing at sunset aboard a Polynesian canoe enjoying the vibrant colors of the sunset over the deep blue Lake Titicaca, taking part in an agricultural activity with the local villagers, spotting a wide range of native birds, or stepping outside your accommodation during the night for a fantastic astronomical observation in Lake Titicaca’s clear skies. At Lake Titicaca, all this is possible. Above all, there is plenty of suitable accommodation with the highest standards of quality, to keep your mind at rest. Read on to find our favorite off-the-beaten-path experiences or check here to see our top itineraries.
It is a private boutique house located on the Amantani Island. The property with only two rooms can accommodate up to 6 travelers, making this an excellent choice for families or couples looking for privacy and exclusivity. The lodge has a stylish European design that blends perfectly with the native elements and resources of the Island.
Suasi is a private island at Lake Titicaca and a great example of a well managed sustainable ecolodge. The lodge is run with solar energy and has very low impact on nature. On the Island you can find alpacas, vizcachas, hummingbirds, and wild vicuñas that usually like to visit the lodge gardens. Hiking through every corner of this small private Island, rowing at the shores of the Lake, or enjoying star gazing are just a few of the activities available on the Island. Travelers looking for open wide spaces, comfort, nature, and with a profound respect for nature will fall in love with this place.
Titilaka Lodge is a beautiful luxury property at the shores of the Lake in the corner of the Chucuito Peninsula. What makes this place special is its isolated location on a private peninsula with four acres of land and two private beaches. The remoteness of the lodge, the rooms with a lake view, and the a-la-carte activities make this place one of our top recommendations for travelers wishing to have a luxury service while exploring Lake Titicaca’s natural and cultural heritage.
Last but not least, Fundo Chincheros is a beautiful old farmhouse, located on the outskirts of Puno. The Fundo has plenty of open areas with horses, llamas, and alpacas. Although this is not a luxury property, its rooms are warm and comfortable, and you feel like you are in the countryside. Here you can learn everything about the breeding of the alpacas, and we can organize horse riding excursions or hiking trails in the altiplano surrounded with views of the Lake and cactus forest.
#4 Sacred Valley of the Incas
Besides the regular touristic circuit in the Sacred Valley of the Incas packed with many visitors and crowded attractions, many communities are willing to open their homes and hearts to travelers offering a more authentic experience.
You could spend many weeks exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas, almost without seeing many tourists and supporting the local communities. Below you’ll find some of our favorite projects and activities in the valley. So, once you are again starting to plan your trip to Cusco, don’t miss the opportunity to include any of these experiences and get off the beaten path.
Hiking with llamas
Join the Llama Pack project for an authentic hike at the Pumahuanca valley escorted by llamas. In this experience, you’ll learn about the conservation of mountain ecosystems and the important role of the llamas as an eco-friendly pack animal. Moreover, you’ll support the sustainable development of the alpaca breeder communities.
For travelers willing to experience and learn about the textile traditions in the Andes, we recommend skipping the tourist trap of the textile workshops at Chinchero and heading instead to the Parobamba workshop. What makes this place so special is its weavers: Martina and Ruth Pimentel. They have been recognized by Unesco with the certificate of excellence for its handicrafts, and they will teach us the ancestral weaving techniques. So, if you are curious and wanting to join a genuinely immersive activity, then you shouldn’t miss this opportunity.
If you are an active traveler, you’ll find endless options at the Sacred Valley. Biking, hiking, and rafting are very popular at the valley; however, a good experience relies on detailed planning to develop new circuits off the beaten path. Imagine rowing on a calm lake with the views of the snow-peaked mountains, followed by an authentic picnic lunch consisting mainly of Andean tubers, a biking excursion to a less known archaeological site, and finishing the day under the stars enjoying a glamping experience in a rural community.
#5 Illescas National Reserve, nature at its purest
Illescas, located in the region of Piura in northern Peru, is one of the few national parks located on the Peruvian coast and one of the most pristine ecosystems in the whole country. Its pure remoteness and its unique geography where the Humboldt current meets the Equatorial current makes this a fascinating place for nature lovers. Blue-footed boobies from tropical waters sharing the same rock with Humboldt penguins is something unique.
Illescas is the perfect retreat for families or groups of friends wishing to spend a few days on secluded beaches with no other tourists at all, just Andean condors, flamingos, sea lions, penguins, and plenty of wildlife that call this paradise their home.
Arriving at Illescas is not easy, and only 4×4 vehicles and knowledgeable guides can reach the place, but this isolation is what has helped preserve this beautiful ecosystem. Staying at Punta Luna, with no other lodge or human being within a perimeter of 100km is a really good way to reconnect with yourself and with nature. Stargazing here is almost guaranteed. Find our more about this experience.
#6 Tambopata National Reserve
The Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, encompassing approximately 60% of the country, is home to endemic wildlife, indigenous tribes, and some of the most exotic plant species in the world. One of the Amazon regions with the best accessibility from Lima and Cusco is Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to Tambopata National Reserve, one of the most biodiverse national parks in the world.
Visiting the Amazon is an opportunity for families and kids to get involved in science and learn about exotic plants, wildlife, and the cooperation between different species. It’s also a great choice for honeymooners looking for adventure while enjoying luxury accommodation in the middle of the Amazon. In Tambopata it is common to see three to five different species of monkeys, capybaras, caimans, giant river otters, macaws, among others.
There are many lodges to choose from depending on the budget, travel style, comfort requirements, and time available; however we love to recommend the following:
Tambopata Research Center
This is the only lodge located inside the Tambopata National Reserve, making it one of the most remote shelters in South America. The remote location of the lodge means that it is surrounded by the best wildlife that the Amazon Rainforest has to offer. Its naturally constructed rooms have an open wall to the surrounding jungle, giving tourists a safe way to enjoy this diverse ecosystem, even during free time.
An eco-luxury lodge in front of Madre de Dios River with 35 wooden cabins, is located in a pristine, remote, and easily accessible area adjacent to Tambopata National Reserve. From here, tourists can visit the Inkaterra Canopy Walkway, a bridge system 30 meters above the ground, that allows adventurers to enjoy a fantastic view of the forest.
Check here our top experiences featuring the recommended lodges above.
#7 Arequipa’s best-kept secret, Caleta San Jose
Arequipa is well known for its colonial architecture built with white volcanic sillar, for its delicious cuisine, for the majestic flight of the Andean Condor at the Colca Canyon, and its pre-Hispanic terraces; however, few people know about its coast. Caleta San Jose is a small eco-lodge located in a tranquil cove beach on Arequipa’s coast, one of the less explored coasts of our country. A few years ago, it was only possible to reach this place by boat, and this is one of the reasons why nature here has been so well preserved. Nowadays, a 2-and-a-half-hour drive takes you from the city of Arequipa directly to this isolated lodge on a secluded beach.
Travelers can enjoy their days here visiting the islands full of sea lions, pelicans, penguins, and lots of wildlife or for the more adventurous to practise snorkeling to observe the underwater life. It is also interesting to explore its rocky shoreline, its sand dunes, and its peculiar beaches in the shape of fjords. There are also some archaeological remains dating back to pre-Inca times that remind us of the importance of the sea in the development of many societies in Peru.
We recommend spending at least three days in the area to make the most of your visit and enjoy some time to relax, explore the islands and taste the delicious meals based on fresh seafood.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the shoreline on kayaks.
#8 Choquequirao to Machu Picchu
Yes, you have definitely heard about Machu Picchu and maybe even about Choquequirao, known as the Sacred Sister of Machu Picchu, but what about hiking all the way from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu?
This is a challenging 7-day trekking expedition, connecting the still less known Choquequirao archaeological site with Machu Picchu. Enjoy beautiful views, connect yourself with nature, explore untouched archaeological sites, and last but not least, be ready to enjoy Machu Picchu taking the opportunity to visit it, avoiding the crowds. In the last 20 years, the site has been packed with thousands of daily visitors; however, due to the pandemic, regulations will be strict, and the first travelers that venture to Machu Picchu will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the site with just a few of other tourists.
The Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is not something for everyone. This trek is only recommended for experienced hikers willing to join one of the most authentic trekking expeditions in Peru.
#9 Ausangate Lodge to Lodge
The 5D/4N Ausangate Lodge to Lodge trek always comes up as one of our first suggestions for travelers wanting to combine trekking, culture, and comfort. The route takes travelers through isolated areas at the foot of the impressive Ausangate mountain, the fifth highest peak in Peru, more than 6370 meters above sea level. Imagine hiking with views of snow peaked mountains, crystal clear lagoons, and impressive rainbow mountains and getting pampered each night with a hot shower, a fireplace, and a delicious meal in a charming lodge in the middle of nowhere.
In addition to the breathtaking scenery, taking part in this trekking expedition contributes directly to the improvement of the livelihood of the high Andean communities that are an essential part of the experience. Llama breeders are the ones in charge of transporting the luggage of the travelers from one lodge to another, resurrecting this ancestral practice at risk of disappearing. Follow this link to read more about this incredible experience or click here to check our Ausangate Lodge to Lodge itinerary.
#10 Huancaya & Nor Yauyos Cochas landscape reserve
Okay, but if you’d like to go off the beaten path and experience Peru like you’ve never imagined before, then you should consider traveling to Huancaya and the Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve. If you are a photographer, hiker, or a nature lover, then you’ll fall in love with this national park where you’ll find one of the most pristine regions of the country. Turquoise lagoons, waterfalls, cascades, mountains, Andean wildlife, pre-Hispanic terraces still in use, and rural communities working in harmony with nature are just a few words to describe the hidden jewel of Lima and one of the most fascinating and untouched regions of the country. Check our Huancaya & Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape reseve here.
To be sincere, there are not many tourist facilities in the area, and actually, this is probably the reason why this place is still so authentic and special. Visiting this area means hiking through fishermen trails along the shores of emerald lagoons, rowing on small vessels on the lagoons, working at the fields with the locals, trying the local gastronomy, exploring unknown archaeological sites, spotting Condors, vizcachas, and other wildlife and enjoying a homestay with your local hosts. For those who venture to the area, expect basic facilities but unforgettable memories, sharing and learning with the locals and enjoying a good opportunity to reconnect with nature. You won’t regret it!
Bonus: Waqra Pukara, Cusco
Waqra Pukara is a magnificent Inca site in the Cusco region that very few people get to see. The name of the place means “Horn fortress” in reference to the two horn-shaped peaks of the site. The fortress is impressive for its fine stonework and its location at the top of a mountain forming the slopes of the Apurimac River. Triple-jambed doors have been found in the area, so archaeologists believe this was an important religious and political center for the Incas.
The most “popular” way to reach the area is by a two-day hike starting and finishing in Cusco. Unlike Machu Picchu or other Inca sites, there is still plenty of research to be done in Waqra Pukara, so travelers visiting the area will feel they are discovering the site for the first time. Enjoying a luxury camp under the stars with almost no tourist at all is really worth it and a great alternative to visiting Cusco off-the-beaten-path.
Another great alternative we love to suggest to our travelers is adding an extra day to the adventure so you can combine it with a kayaking or paddling excursion at the clear lagoon of Pomacanchis on the route towards Waqra Puqara. A 3-day itinerary including kayaking, hiking, and camping under the stars is a great way to explore Cusco in an active and authentic way while avoiding the crowds. For travelers with some extra time, we recommend combining this multi day excursion with unique horseback riding to Apu Wanakaure.