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Cordillera Huayhuash | © Jenny Salita / Flickr
Cordillera Huayhuash | © Jenny Salita / Flickr
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The Ultimate Guide to Exploring the Peruvian Andes

Picture of Brandon Dupre
Updated: 2 October 2017
The Andean region of Peru is a paradise for explorers and adventurers. You’ll find ancient Incan ruins, and some that even predate them, as well as more than a couple of perfect photo opportunities. The Andes offer backpacking trips among some of the tallest mountains in the world, and the most beautiful valleys – there’s a reason the Incas considered them sacred. Your Andean adventure awaits you: here, you’ll find excitement and adventure in one of the world’s most beautiful locations.

Where to Go

Huaraz

This town, which is only about eight hours from Lima, is one of Peru’s most popular with trekkers because of the seemingly endless backpacking options the area affords. It is one of those places you intend to stay in for three days, but end up staying for three months. It is the perfect basecamp for every hike in the area, and the town also has a craft brewery; what’s not to love?

Cusco

The holy city of the Incas is truly a sight to behold. From its colonial and Incan architecture to the beautiful sights around the area, there is a reason it was considered the center of the universe by the Incas. There isn’t anything else in the world quite like Andean towns, and Cusco is the best of them all.

The Sacred Valley

The sacred land of the Incas has plenty of exploring and activities to keep the most active visitors busy. You can take horse rides through the valley and hike mountains; adrenaline seekers can try white-water rafting. The valley is very scenic, too, and if you’re looking for a more relaxed trip, the Sacred Vally offers one of the most romantic landscapes imaginable.

Lake Titicaca

This is the highest navigable lake in the world and the home of the Uros people, who build floating reed islands in the middle of the lake. These islands were constructed to protect them from more aggressive neighbors such as the Incas, and now serve as the main tourist attraction in the area. You can take a ride in one of their reed boats and visit an island, and you can even stay with a family if you really want to immerse yourself.

Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca | © SarahTz/Flickr

What to Do

Hikes

In and around the the Andes are an endless number of hikes and backpacking trips that attract the the most adventurous thrill seekers. The mountain range is long, which means thousands of beautiful and unique places to explore – and it is truly exploring, as you’ll find remote areas and villages where you’re the only foreigner. The Andes offer both advanced hikes and easier outings for the beginner backpacker.

Ruins

The Andean region is a hotbed of ancient civilizations, and you’ll even find hundreds of ruins that date back to pre-Incan times. Of course, you’ll want to find Incan ruins too, and those are everywhere. From Machu Picchu to the many that surround the Sacred Valley, you’ll have days of exploring and plenty of picture opportunities.

Culture

Within the Andes, you’ll come across little towns with colonial churches and plazas and traditions that have been passed down for thousands of years. From the dress to the language and traditions, these communities are truly fascinating.