An Adventure Traveller's Guide to Peru

Colca Canyon, Peru
Colca Canyon, Peru | © Donyanedomam / Getty Images
Manuel Orbegozo

Traveling to Peru is always an adventure. But if you’re looking for more adrenaline, there are plenty of activities to satisfy certified thrill-seekers, from riding white rapids to paragliding.

Trekking Salkantay

Trekking the Inca trail is perhaps the most popular adventure activity among travellers who want to visit Machu Picchu. But the Salkantay route, listed by National Geographic as one of the 25 best treks in the world, is an alternative option. Andean scenery, snowcapped mountains and tropical forests: you’ll see it all during the Salkantay trek, as well the impressive mountain with the same name. Private tours can last four or five days and include meals, guidance, cargo mules and campsites. On your last day, you’ll arrive very early at Machu Picchu with a clear idea of what the Andes is all about.

Salkantay, Cusco, Peru

Salkantay Trekking

Caballo de totora surfing in Huanchaco

A caballito de totora is an ancient kayak-like vessel made from woven reed. It’s still used by fishermen in northern coastal regions such as La Libertad. Could this have been the earliest form of surfing? The surfing historians aren’t sure yet, but there are surfers and even fishermen themselves who can be seen riding waves sitting down, kneeling or standing up in caballitos de totora. Nowadays you can rent a caballito de totora and take lessons in Huanchaco, Trujillo’s main beach. Your friends will never believe you.

Huanchaco, Trujillo, Peru

‘Caballitos de Totora’, Huanchaco, Peru

Paragliding in Miraflores

You simply can’t miss the paragliders jumping off the green Miraflores cliffs facing the Pacific Ocean. Gliding like a bird has to be the coolest way of getting a tremendous view of Lima’s coast. There’s a short course at the Antonio Raimondi Park in the Cisneros seafront, then a private and experienced instructor joins you once you’re ready to take off. Flights last 15 minutes or so and cost about $60, and they include a free HD video of your session.

Antonio Raimondi Park, Miraflores, Peru

Paragliding in the Miraflores district, Lima

Sandboarding in Huacachina

Three hours south of Lima lies a dreamy place called Huacachina. It’s a town surrounded by desert in the Ica region, and the dunes nearby are the perfect spot for dune buggy riding or sandboarding. Most tours will offer a guided experience with basic equipment, and in the case of dune buggy riding, a private driver to take you up and down the sand mountains. Try to take a late afternoon tour: you’ll never forget the sunset in the desert.

Huacachina, Ica, Peru

Sandboarder outside the village of Huacachina

Rafting down the Urubamba

Rafting down the Urubamba river is one of the best options in Peru for an adrenaline rush. This is a river south of Cusco, in the middle of the Inca’s Sacred Valley. The usual ride is a level three of difficulty and lasts about three hours – perfect if you’re looking to spend a whole day outside of Cusco.

Urubamba, Cusco, Peru

Urubamba river

Cycling the Colca Valley

The Colca Valley is located in Arequipa, south of Peru. It’s a spot much visited by locals and tourists hoping to see the king bird of the Andes: the condor. Most cycling tours last about three days and start at Chivay, before descending through unpaved roads onto the highway and finally reaching the Pacific Ocean. Your tour may require you to camp, but nothing beats the experience of waking up in Peru’s most important valley and biking all over again. All meals and a bike are usually included. Other tours offer a more cultural experience, often visiting communities along the road and trying traditional food.

Colca Valley, Arequipa, Peru

Chivas village, Canyon Colca, Peru

Canopy and Zip Lining in the Amazon

Tambopata is a National Reserve located in Madre De Dios, an Amazonian region bordering Bolivia and Brazil. This paradise is known for its important ecosystem rich in flora and fauna. Image zip lining or walking suspended in the air over this part of the rainforest, home to 1,700 different species of plants and hundreds of animals.

Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Peru

Canopy bridge in Tambopata National Reserve

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