Insight /


Machu where? Peru is about more than Machu Picchu

Peru has long enticed travellers, chiefly thanks to its incredible Incan citadel of Machu Picchu: a mountain-top kingdom above the cloudforest, capable of reducing the most stony-faced visitor to tears of joy.

Classic Peruvian circuits also included the reed islands and indigenous communities of Lake Titicaca, and Cusco, perhaps the fairest colonial city of them all.

But things are changing. While everyone still goes to Machu Picchu – with many hiking the Inca Trail to get there – Titicaca and Cusco, the rest of Peru is also garnering some much-deserved attention, aided by the modern traveller’s yen for seeking out lesser-visited locations.

    Underestimated beaches

    Take Mancora, a typically‑chilled surf town near the Ecuadorian border. American and British  travellers have yet to cotton on to the breaks and golden sands here, let alone its boutique beach hotel‑spa, Arennas de Máncora: all hot tubs, palm trees and clean‑lined architecture.

    In either coastal direction white-sand beaches await where one can dive, kitesurf and fish – with this stretch of the Peruvian Pacific inspiring Ernest Hemingway’s angling novella, The Old Man and the Sea. We also recommend exploring wider Northern Peru. Kuelap is a mighty walled settlement accessible via new cable cars, while the cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo host pyramids, clay-brick citadels and the Lord of Sipan’s glittering, gold-festooned tomb.

From beach to jungle

The lowdown

  • Best for

    Walkers, adventurers, wildlife lovers and the well-travelled, looking to be wowed again!

  • Think about

    Don’t rush through Lima. It is worth an extra day or so for the great museums, galleries and excellent cuisine.

  • When to go

    Ideally May to October.

  • Cost

    From £2,950 per person for a 14 day tailormade journey, including flights and some guiding.

Jungle eco-lodges in Peru’s dazzlingly diverse Amazon reaches are also opening up thanks to new flights between Cusco and the gateway city of Iquitos.

Spend days bird‑watching on lagoons, cruising to spot caiman, piranha fishing or looking for pink Amazon river dolphins. Down in the capital Lima, you’ll find some of Latin-America’s best restaurants including innovative Central. The tasting menu has 17 courses, which reflect the 17 altitudes of Peru with corresponding dishes including clams, cactus and cacao.

All this, and we’ve not yet mentioned flyovers atop the mysterious Nazca Lines or hikes along condor-dotted Colca Canyon. You can trek in the Andes, too, or visit ancient markets in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Phew.

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