Ausangate Mountain a missed destination in Peru, only for adventure travelers

Authentic and Inusual

Undiscovered Peru: 7 Less Visited Hotspots

by

11-01-2024

Given the considerable number of travelers who include Peru on their itineraries, one might anticipate that the country and its finest attractions would be inundated with visitors. Peru can be explored in a less conventional manner, provided one looks beyond Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and the upscale restaurants that require reservations in Lima.  

Consider the following seven off-the-beaten-path Peruvian destinations when planning your trip. Are all of the aforementioned locations devoid of tourists? While not inherently devoid of visitors, these locales do not attract the large throngs that can be found in Peru's most renowned tourist attractions. We recommend that you visit the following locations while they are still relatively unnoticed by tourists.

CHOQUEQUIRAO

Choquequirao, despite its architectural resemblance to Machu Picchu, is thought to be a minimum of three times more expansive in size. Choquequirao, perched atop the Apurimac River at an elevation of 3000 masl in the Vilcabamba mountain range, is the authentic lost city of Peru and a significant Inca ruin deserving of a visit. Since excavations of the site commenced less than fifty years ago, archaeologists estimate that only thirty percent of Choquequirao is represented by the artifacts unearthed from dense forest brush. 

 

The journey to the historical site, which takes between four and five days, is as far from the beaten path as it gets. In contrast to Machu Picchu, which is accessible via transport and train, Choquequirao is exclusively accessible on foot. The finishing touch? After reaching Choquequirao, the ruins are essentially uninhabited, as few travelers are audacious enough to experience Peru in this manner.

SACRED VALLEY

Gazing upon the Sacred Valley, you'll find a stunning tapestry of traditional Quechua villages set against the majestic backdrop of snow-capped mountains. This is particularly evident considering its close proximity to the vibrant metropolis of Cusco (approximately 1.5 hours via vehicle) and the congested entrance to Machu Picchu (a two-hour train journey). It is common for travelers to only dedicate a few hours (or a day) to the Sacred Valley subsequent to their visit to the renowned Inca ruins; however, a more extended sojourn is highly recommended in this serene region. 

 

A trek along the verdant and river-carved floor of the Sacred Valley, from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, is an absolute necessity for any visit to Peru, particularly if tranquility is what you seek. Pisac not only boasts a top-notch Italian eatery but also entices with its vibrant market, rich archaeological treasures, and scenic trails awaiting exploration. A stone's throw to the west of Yucay, Museo Inkariy beckons history buffs with its rich showcase of ancient local civilizations. The main town in the Valley, Urubamba, is home to several fashionable cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. So, Ollantaytambo is not just an old Inca town; it's the oldest one still standing, and because it's where you catch the train to Machu Picchu, loads of people flock there. Although the town appears to be fixed in time due to its stone streets, Kuoda can direct you to Alqa, a gallery showcasing popular Andean art, and the town's innovative distillery.

CHACHAPOYAS

It may not come as a surprise that venturing into the jungle is one of the finest ways to experience Peru off the beaten path. Although the more widely recognized jungle metropolis of Iquitos does offer some advantages, our deepest affections lie with Chachapoyas, which serves as the starting point for two magnificent structures in northern Peru—Gocta Falls and the Kuelap Fortress. Gocta Falls, measuring 771 meters (2,530 feet) in height, is a multi-drop cascade that is positioned as the third-highest waterfall globally. The highest free-falling cascade in Peru is accessible via a car journey from the town of Chachapoyas and a brief hike. 

 

Due to its obscure location, Gocta Falls did not receive international recognition until 2022. In close proximity to Chachapoyas is an additional remarkable and lesser-known location known as the Kuelap Fortress. According to the World Monuments Fund, Kuelap, a pre-Inca fortified citadel, was constructed by the Chachapoyas culture (900-1400 AD) and initially spanned 15 hectares. Perched high in the Andes at 3000 meters above sea level, Kuelap stands as one of the largest stone ruins in the Americas, showcasing a rich tapestry of Chachapoyas culture. Over 420 circular stone dwellings, zigzag friezes, and the remains of a monumental stone wall that encircled Kuelap's cliffside position comprise its structure.

THE HUAYHUASH.

Visit the Huayhuash, a compact mountain range situated just below the more extensively traveled Cordillera Blanca, for an untamed and secluded environment. Seven peaks above 6,000 masl (19,000+ feet) comprise the Cordillera Huayhuash, all of which are linked by a trekking circuit that outdoor devotees have repeatedly hailed as one of the finest alpine treks in the world. 

 

There exists an extensive selection of circuits for ascending Huayhuash, contingent upon one's temporal constraints and physical endurance. The traditional Huayhuash trail can be traversed in eight to fourteen days, requiring the passing of one or two mountain passes per day. The views of the icy mountains and turquoise lakes are incredibly beautiful. Prior to embarking on your trek, it is critical that you acclimatize in the city of Huaraz and that you have a satisfactory level of physical fitness.

AUSANGATE

Ausangate, situated atop the Cordillera Vilcanota at an elevation of 6,384 meters (20,944 feet), is the tallest peak in Southern Peru. In the context of this article, our focus is on the 43-mile trekking circuit that is devoid of tourist traffic and teeming with picturesque small villages, glacial lakes, towering snow-capped peaks, and frequently encountered colonies of alpacas. If you are interested in visiting Machu Picchu but dislike the throngs that accompany the Inca Trail, then the Ausangate Trek is an ideal option for you. However, keep in mind that the high-altitude trail traverses elevations between 4000 and 5500 masl, and that the majority of trekking circuits last between 6-7 hours. Ausangate, a traditionally six-day ascent, is a challenging trek that provides one of the most picturesque off-the-beaten-path experiences in Peru.

THE ISLANDS OF UROS

Set sail on a remarkable journey to the Uros Islands in Lake Titicaca, where you'll immerse yourself in the raw beauty of life untamed. The community of floating islands was built from totora, an indigenous species of reed. It is said that when the Incas conquered their land, the Uros people were compelled to establish themselves on the lake in this manner. Even the vessels are constructed from reed. Presently, the inhabitants of the Uros Islands sustain themselves through the trade of reed handicrafts and fishing. A sojourn on the Uros Islands will only serve to solidify your conviction that Lake Titicaca is a sublime location. Staying overnight with a local Uros family can provide deeper understanding of their way of life.

PACAYA-SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE

The tranquil and wildlife-filled Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is among the most pristine and stunning locations in Peru. Nestled in the vast Amazon Rainforest near Iquitos, Pacaya-Samiria stands as one of Peru's largest havens for diverse wildlife and untouched natural beauty. This area thrives by balancing eco-friendly travel with its role as a sanctuary for wildlife lovers. The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve protects over 900 plant species and over 1,000 animal species in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. Observe pink river dolphins, seek for caimans, and embark on flashlight-guided nighttime hikes and boat rides through the forest when it is at its most vibrant.

 

A deluxe Amazon cruise is regarded by our travel staff as the most ideal method of exploring this extraordinary region of Peru. A journey to Peru is entirely up to the traveler. While Machu Picchu may be the primary motivation for your Peruvian vacation, we are here to demonstrate that the country has much more to offer than just this renowned marvel.

While Machu Picchu may be the primary motivation for your Peru trip, we are here to demonstrate that the country has much more to offer than just this renowned marvel.


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