Peru, we almost all know the country because of the world famous Machu Picchu (sometimes also called a modern wonder of the world) or the imposing Andes Mountains. But did you know that there is much more to discover while traveling in Peru? There is much more to it than just famous tourist sites. For example, think of undiscovered pearls such as an equally special Inca city, but without the crowds of tourists, or the hidden secrets in Cumbemayo. Discover more about these two and some other unknown highlights in Peru and embark on the real adventure in this South American country.
5 unknown highlights in Peru for your bucket list
1. Chachapoyas, mountain town on the edge of the Amazon
In the north of Peru, close to the border with the Amazon, lies the almost undiscovered mountain town called Chachapoyas. Not just any mountain town, because this place is centuries old. The culture in this place seems to date back to 700 AD and because this place is still so unknown, the area around it is seen as one of the most beautiful places in Peru. At Chachapoyas you will find a lot of natural violence, amazing mountains and valleys, green jungles, unique bird species and one of the world’s highest waterfalls: the Gocta waterfall. Not only the fact that this part of Peru is still relatively undiscovered, but especially these highlights make this area a must visit during a trip to Peru. Moreover, you can also see special sarcophagi here. Sounds a bit creapy, but these sarcophagi (stone coffins) are made in the shape of stone dolls. These stone statues of Sarcophagi or Karajía have special shapes and are painted with beautiful earth tones.
Mini Machu Picchu in Peru
2. Choquequirao, the mini Machu Picchu of Peru
Choquequiro, this literally means ‘cradle of gold’ and this place in Peru is also called ‘mini Machu Picchu’. Choquequiro is one of the most remote Inca ruins in Peru. You will notice this immediately from the fact that this place can only be reached on foot and that this trail takes about two days. The nice thing is that, unlike the well-known Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you hardly see any other tourists on this route. No queues of people, no groups with selfie sticks, but just you who may be walking the Inca Trail together with some fellow travelers. The road to Choquequiro is also one of the most challenging, spectacular and most beautiful tours in Peru. The trail goes straight through a deserted valley and then uphill for over 3000 meters. The Inca city itself is then a spacious complex and certainly just as impressive as the Machu Picchu. Is the two-day hike a bit too adventurous for you? Next year the new cable car to Choquequirao will be finished! So you don’t have to walk all that way or you have to be fast, before it might get just as busy as at Machu Picchu.
Secrets of Cumbemayo
Hidden secrets and a volcanic aqueduct in Cumbemayo
Those who love caves and a necessary dose of mystique should travel to Cumbemayo in Peru. You will find Cumbemayo at an altitude of more than 3 kilometers close to the Peruvian city of Cajamarca. This place is one of those special places in Peru that is full of hidden secrets and riddles. At Cumbemayo you will find caves with all kinds of petroglyphs, paths that take you through a ‘stone forest’ and of course ingenious architecture. This place is more than 3500 years old and is considered the third wonder of Peru. Like other places, this is also closely intertwined with Inca culture. The highlight of this pre-Inca complex is not a temple or structure, but the ancient aqueduct cut from volcanic rock. This 9-kilometer aqueduct is one of the oldest man-made structures in South America. An amazing place to travel to.
Manu Park in Peru
4. The world’s greatest biodiversity in Manu Park
Like Chachapoyas, Manu Park is also located near the Amazon. The Manu National Park is actually part of the Peruvian Amazon. According to various biologists, this is one of the world’s most pristine natural areas in the world. This distinction also led to Manu Park being included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the Manu Park you will not only find special plants, but also with more than 200 mammals, 99 reptiles, 200 fish species (freshwater dolphins!) And over 1000 different bird species. The ideal place if you are a bird watcher or just in love with the nature in South Africa. With this list, Manu Park is also a place in the world with the greatest biodiversity. Would you like to go here? From Cusco it is about a four hour drive to the start of the Manu park. The best way to proceed next? For example by canoe!
Mountains around Huaraz
5. Adventurers go to Huaraz in Peru
If you are looking for a picturesque or beautiful town, Huaraz is not the place. Huaraz was built completely in American style after its reconstruction, this reconstruction was necessary after an earthquake in 1970. Although this town is not the most beautiful place in Peru, the surrounding mountains are certainly worth a visit. Especially for adventurers. The beautiful mountain landscape consists of snow-capped peaks, elongated valleys and amazing blue lakes. You can go mountain biking, hiking, rafting, but also mountain climbing and even skiing every now and then. The best place, perhaps in all of South America, but at least in Peru, if you like adventurous activities.