Although seemingly little more than a barren desert at first glance, this arid region spanning between the southern Peruvian Andes and the Pacific Ocean is home to a surprising number of attractions. From a lush oasis to long-lost relics, here are the best things to see and do in Peru’s southern coastal region.
Catch some sun in Mollendo
When the sun is shining (December to February), this picturesque beach town becomes a hit with sun-seeking holidaymakers from Arequipa and elsewhere in Peru. Well away from the well-trodden gringo trail, very few foreigners find themselves here which makes for an entirely authentic Peruvian seaside experience.
A post shared by Instagramers Arequipa (@igersarequipa) on Dec 10, 2017 at 10:03am PST
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Marvel at the architecture of Arequipa
A little further inland lies one of South America’s true colonial gems, an architectural masterpiece which many consider the most spectacular in Peru.
Trek the Colca Canyon
Those heading to Arequipa would be mad to miss Colca, a panoramic canyon dotted with traditional Inca villages where giant condors glide effortlessly overhead. Like so many other natural wonders, the best way to appreciate such a marvel is on foot.
Pay homage to the dead
Probably the region’s most grisly attraction, the Chauchilla Cemetery is home to vast collection of mummified pre-Inca remains, many of which remain excavated in full public view. Movie buffs may recognize the site from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Drink some pisco
The age-old debate continues to rage between Chile and Peru as to who exactly came up with this tangy grape flavored spirit. Each country claims it as their own, but few places are as passionate about pisco as Ica, Peru’s premier grape growing region. A multitude of vineyards means travelers can sample some top-shelf product straight from the source.
Get a history fix in the Casa-Hacienda San José
Situated just outside the small coastal city of Chincha, this grand colonial estate provides a fascinating if somewhat unsettling insight into the history of the African slave trade in Peru. Among the many historical remnants on display are a series of spooky catacombs which visitors can explore by candlelight.
A post shared by Anni Lorelli (@alorelli68) on Nov 18, 2017 at 7:50am PST
Go sandboarding in Huacachina
An essential item on any thrill-seeking backpacker’s bucket list, sandboarding down the towering sand dunes that surround the hidden oasis town of Huacachina is every bit as epic as it sounds.
Spot some wildlife at the Islas Ballestas
Colloquially referred to as ‘the poor man’s Galapagos’, these wildlife-rich islands off the coast of Paracas offer an extraordinary naturalist experience for a fraction of the cost of their more famous Ecuadorian cousin.
Uncover the mystery of the Nazca Lines
An age-old puzzle of incredible proportions, scientists are still debating how and why these strange markings in the desert were made. Seeing them for yourself from the air is a truly special experience, while a museum down below offers some interesting theories on how the world-famous Nazca Lines came to be.
Enjoy everything Lima has to offer
This massive metropolis of some 10 million inhabitants has everything you would expect from a city of its size, including an unrivaled fine dining scene, electric nightlife and an abundance of historical attractions that keep travelers lingering longer than expected.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.