Thinking about planning a trip to South America but not sure where to go? I'm sure Peru has popped up in your research and you might've heard of a place called Machu Picchu. The question you're wondering is, “why visit Peru?”
Well, as someone that's been and has a lot of thoughts on the experience, I can unequivocally say that Peru is absolutely worth it and here are 10 reasons why you need to go.
Read more about Peru
- Ultimate Inca Trail and Machu Picchu guide
- Is the Huayna Picchu hike worth it?
- 9 things I learned hiking the Inca Trail
- The Peru packing list
Where to stay in Peru?
Here's what we're covering:
- Why Visit Peru
- Why You Should Visit Peru
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Visit Peru
There's one elephant in the room of course but when looking deeper at what makes a trip to Peru so special, it really is a culmination of these 10 reasons.
When you're done this list, there should be no denying why you should visit Peru.
1 – Oh The Food
From the ceviche to the Peruvian mastery of quinoa, the food was always exceptional. What surprised us the most was how creative the food was even along the Inca Trail.
If you're a foodie, the cooking class at Marcelo Batata Culinary Experience was truly superb in having a better understanding of where Peruvian cuisine comes from, agricultural influences, and learning how to actually cook some of these dishes at home.
The dishes you want to look out for are ceviche, causa, lomo saltado, cuy, rocoto relleno, and aji de gallina.
2 – Vibrant and Colourful Peruvian Culture
Wherever you go, meeting the Peruvians will be the highlight of your trip. The locals you meet along the way are all incredibly kind, courteous, friendly, and giving.
What really stands out is how proud they are of their culture. While it isn't necessarily an easy life, they have a way of sharing their stories, language, heritage, crafts, and cuisine with a smile.
Sure, some of it is part of the “tourist experience” but I never got the sense that it was forced. Every interaction we had was genuine especially when we were able to go off-the-beaten-path in the Sacred Valley with KB Tambo.
I encourage you to seek more intimate experiences with locals. You'll be amazed at what you learn about The Quechua and the Aymara.
3 – Alpacas Are Real
These legendary animals are real and you'll find them all over Peru. They are pretty cute!
In some places, you'll find them ready for a photo op but you'll also find them roaming about in the mountains.
Just be careful to not startle them though because they are known to spit and pack a wallop with their kick.
4 – Cusco Is Pretty Awesome
People talk about Cusco being a great destination and yes we can confirm that you'll have a blast here roaming around this city. There's a certain small-town charm and Incan majesty here that you'll thoroughly enjoy.
It's extremely walkable, safe, and easy to approach compared to the large city of Lima.
A stay here will be mandatory especially if you'll be tackling any of the trekking to Machu Picchu as you'll need to acclimatize to the altitude.
From here, you'll also be able to use it as a base to discover its many local attractions and also venture into the Sacred Valley.
Fun fact: Cusco is 3,399m (11,152 feet) while Machu Picchu is 2,430m (7,900 feet) so you're actually at a higher altitude in the city versus the famed ruins.
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5 – Colourful Weaving
With so many alpacas in Peru, it's no wonder that one of the biggest things that you'll encounter is one of the cores of Quechua culture – weaving.
The high quality wool combined with incredibly skilled artisans means that you'll find a wide array of clothing made from the work of the local women.
While you'll see many of them sold in-stores, to make sure that you know that you're getting the real stuff is to buy them straight from the villages in the Peruvian Andres. Visits to certain villages will allow you to see and learn the process of processing raw alpaca wool, how its dyed to a rainbow of colors before finally being weaved together with all of its intricate pattersn.
As much as I knew I didn't need another toque, scarf, or glove, this was one of those purchases that I did not regret making while in Peru.
6 – Inca Trail Pain For Gain
I'm not going to lie. The Inca Trail was pretty brutal for us and Dead Woman's Pass here was one of the most challenging thing we've ever done. While we all fell ill at some point, our perseverance and pure will to succeed is what carried us through.
For more, read the truth behind what it's like to hike the Inca Trail and the ultimate planning guide for the trek.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE INCA TRAIL?
We have a full blown guide on our hike to see Machu Picchu. No detail is spared!
7 – Machu Picchu Is A Glorious Sight
Everyone's seen the postcard shot of Machu Picchu so really no need to rehash it here but what really got me was the watching of the heavy morning fog lifting from the mountains to reveal our final goal.
While I thoroughly compare the different ways to hike to see Machu Picchu, ultimately the Inca Trail is the only hike where you can literally walk into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. The others require you to take the bus up or hike the bus route up.
8 – The Amazon is Calling
From Cusco and Machu Picchu we were in a prime position to explore at least part of the expansive Amazon rainforest.
There are multiple entry points to the Peruvian Amazon – one is Puerto Maldonado and the other is Iquitos.
For our 2 week Peru itinerary, it made the most sense to fly down to Puerto Maldonado to stay at one of the incredible lodges along the Tambopata River. We ended up choosing the Refugio Amazonas for its balance of price, experience, lodging options, food, and positive reviews.
This might be one of the easiest ways to gain access to the Amazon especially when you consider how brilliantly this can combine with the rest of the incredible sights in Peru.
Oh and guess what? The lodging in the Amazon is completely open air which I didn't have a full grasp of until we got there. Again, another experience for the books.
9 – A Jungle Full of Life
Whether it's waking early in the morning to watch massive flocks of macaw land on a claylick or stumbling upon a family of capybara, there are so many unexpected moments when you're in the Amazon.
I'll be the first to admit that most of us know of the Amazon as a place but don't really have a good grasp of what this area means to the South American continent, its place in the ecosystem, and also the biodiversity in its flora and wildlife that can be found here.
From the comforts of your lodge, you'll have experts in the field guide you into the Peruvian jungle to lean in to see a chain of leaf-cutter ants, or climb up an observation tower to rise above the canopy of trees to get a view of the expanse.
Again, when asking “why visit Peru?”, it's these early morning moments where this technicolor rainbow of parrots flocking into one spot that just make your jaw drop.
10 – Adventures with Friends
None of any of the above matters because at the end of it all, the journey is only possible with the company of incredible friends.
What makes a trip to Peru special with friends and loved ones is that you'll be able to share the memories of the ups and some downs (feeling the altitude) for a lifetime. There's so much to discover together and being able to plan something like an epic 14 day Peru itinerary your own, and pulling it off is incredibly satisfying.
Why You Should Visit Peru
Why visit Peru? Well the answer is simple. It's pretty dang awesome. From the Andes to the Amazon, Lima to Cusco, there's such a wealth of visual beauty but also heartwarming connections to be made with its people, culture, and history.
Hopefully these 10 reasons, coupled with their photos give you a reason to make Peru atop your bucket list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Peru is relatively safe and even more so when you're on the Inca Trail and in the Amazon rainforest. That said, the large cities do have issues with things such as pickpocketing so always be aware of your surroundings.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is not required for entry into Peru. That said, it's recommended for places like the Amazon in Peru.
With pillars of the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon rainforest, there's plenty of see but then you layer in the incredible people, fascinating history, culture, and delicious food and you have a destination that's very much worth visiting.
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