Alongside stark and inspiring landscapes that range from the bleak altiplano to undulating desert and dense Amazonian rainforest, Peru provides ample opportunity to engage in things to do like hiking, biking and rafting. The Inca Trail has become a global phenomenon, but other opportunities exist to reach Machu Picchu through less traditional methods. Leaving the mountains behind, the southwestern deserts of Peru are popular sand-boarding spots, while the Pacific beaches to the north are famed for their secret surf spots.
One of the most popular activities in Peru is to hike the Inca Trail. Llama Path offers two, four, and five-day treks, although booking with any operator well in advance (particularly during the high season from June-August) is recommended as only 500 people are allowed on the protected area per day. If the classic route is sold out there are a few other options such as the Salkantay Trek. Peru Trek offers a tour which combines the epic hike with mountain biking and vehicle transportation to get you to Machu Picchu over a period of two to five days.
The area around Ica is known as a good place to go sand boarding on the large dunes. Duna Grande in Huacachina is the largest in the world, reaching over 1.5 miles high. Peru Adventure Tours offers full-day sand-boarding experiences and the opportunity to ride around in a sand buggy.
As the waters gush down from the mountains into the tributary rivers that feed the mighty Amazon, it is no wonder that Peru is an excellent destination for white water rafting and kayaking. Apumayo offers extensive tours all over the waterways, including the Apurimac River and Colca River that have Class V rapids.
Manu National Park has one of the greatest levels of biodiversity found anywhere in the world. It was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a World Heritage site in 1987. Jungle trekking is popular with Manu Explorers who will take you to spot wildlife such as jaguars, macaws and birds with experienced guides. They offer fully inclusive tours lasting between four and nine days.
The town of Mancora in northern Peru is a popular place to go surfing. The waters on the Pacific Ocean are warm year round, and Wavehunters offer surf trips to three spots that focus on north and south swells. Equipment and training is provided.
The Cordillera Blanca in the central highlands is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to go mountain climbing. Peruvian Treks has multi-day trips to snowy peaks around 19,000 ft high.
Peru is known to have some of the best train rides in the world, with spectacular scenery from a comfortable seat. One of the most well known is from Cusco to Puno, on which you are presented with amazing views across the altiplano to Lake Titicaca. The journey only operates three times a week, catering strictly to tourists and takes about 12 hours. The service is run by PeruRail, which also operates the Machu Picchu line―a popular way to reach the site if you don’t do the trek.