Discovering your way around Peru means seeing the country’s attractions and finding the nooks and crannies that often elude the guidebooks. Many who make the journey to South America combine the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, others choose the jungle and the mountains, and some prefer to discover the culture of places like Quito and Cusco.
Finding your dream trip with Happy Gringo Travel is a matter of letting us know what you want to do, and we can offer ideas and suggestions for tailor-made trips in both countries that fit the bill. Keep reading for some off-the-beaten-path destinations in Peru and alternatives for travel in both Peru and Ecuador to consider putting on your list.
Iquitos and the Jungle
Iquitos is one of the destinations that are hard to explain without diving into a bit of Peru’s history. During the rubber boom, it was a central port city where materials were shipped in a used for work communities downstream. There are no roads to get there- it is only reached by boat or plane.
These days it is a hub for people traveling downstream from Ecuador, or upstream from the more remote regions of the Peruvian jungle.
Its streets are crowded with motorcycle taxis, its waterfront has a hip collection of restaurants and bars, and off of its shores is a floating village that draws people from far and wide.
Today it’s also a gateway to the jungle-an odd mix of a central port, hub for travelers, and arguably one of the only places in the region where you can go to a movie.
National parks and protected areas are close by, you can hire a local fisherman to take you or sign up for a guided tour. For those who want an experience that shows you the genuine side of life in the jungle on the Amazon River, this is a place that won’t let you down.
Like Iquitos, Huaraz in the mountains is a city that wears many hats. It is the climbing capital of the country. Epic treks take you up glaciers to pristine lakes, rock climbers head out daily to boulder, and it serves as a commercial center for the surrounding communities. Each year groups come from nearby villages to take part in the Señor de la Soledad festival in May.
Different dance troupes perform elaborate dances in vibrant costume- a highlight for the sleepy town and anyone who happens to be there at the time for treks up the towering peaks that are seen in the distance.
Trujillo could easily be described as a low key fishing town if it wasn’t for the fact that nearby is the sprawling pre-Inca complex of Chan Chan.
The city was the largest of its kind of its time in the Americas-making the small nearby town a stop on many a travelers list before heading south to Lima.
Huacachina is another one of those stops that travelers often miss. It’s a tiny oasis in southwest Peru surrounded by sand dunes. Despite the sandy landscape, a small lake sits in the center of town where palm trees that circle the water make it look like a scene from a movie.
Tours in the area take guests by dune buggy to dunes where sandboarding is what draws people from the nearby town of Ica.
Smaller and less crowded than the nearby surfing town of Mancora, Lobitos offers fewer crowds, more space, and a secluded spot to spend a few days catching some rays before moving on.
Previously an oil town built by the British and later used by the Peruvian military, the town’s Victorian-era houses are now hostels for those who make the trek. It’s not exactly chic, but definitely worth a look if you are a sun lover trying to get away from the crowds.
The Salkantay Trekking Tour to Machu Picchu
For those who want an off-the-beaten-path active adventure that takes you through the stunning mountains and valleys on a route that finishes in Machu Picchu, The Salkantay trekking tour is your ticket forward.
This tour combines exploring the sites of Cusco, a tour of the Sacred Valley, and four days of hiking and camping before reaching Machu Picchu. It’s a paradise for hikers who want to explore routes taken by messengers for royalty, based in the mountain mecca when the Inca were in power.
Combining Peru & Galapagos Land Tour
Happy Gringo Travel also offers a range of Galapagos land tours designed for those who want to explore while based on inhabited islands. These trips offer excursions to nearby uninhabited islands, plenty of opportunities to snorkel, and hiking and biking in the tropics. For people who want to experience the sights, sounds, and creatures of the archipelago without rigid itineraries of cruises, these tours hit their mark.
For more information about Peru, the Galapagos Islands, Happy Gringo’s Galapagos Island and Machu Picchu tour, and your options for tailor-made tours to both Ecuador and Peru contact a member of our team.