While I sit in my corner in my parents’ house, I know I’m blessed to have a place to call home. Nevertheless, I’m craving the kiss of cool, crystal clear water on my cheeks. I spent the summer of 2018 river rafting in Peru, gawking in awe at Machu Picchu and enjoying some exotic cherimoya cake in a quaint cafe overlooking the beach. Now, I spend most of my time planning for travel when it is safe again (spoiler alert, Peru is on the list).
While Machu Picchu alone should entice you to look into Peru, there’s so much more of this country to explore — and summer is no doubt the best time to do so. From hiking to shopping to food tours, there is something for everyone.
Explore Machu Picchu
You simply cannot go to Peru and not visit Machu Picchu. This spot is the lost Incan city and is righteously one of the New Seven Wonders of the world. This city is perched between the Andean mountains, at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet. Located near Cusco, Machu Picchu was built in the mid-1400s as grounds for the Temple of the Sun, The Room of the Three Windows and a royal estate. You’ll not only be able to see the stunning dry-wall structures up close, but also get a sweeping view of the mountains and lake below. If you love hiking, this is definitely for you. There are more than 3,000 stairs to reach the destination. If climbing doesn’t sound fun, you can still reach the attraction by taking a tour bus that runs all day long.
Trek, trek, trek!
Peru is a trekker’s dream. The most famous ones are the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trek, which both take you up to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is usually a two or four-day trek along the original Incan pathways. You’ll catch glimpses of historical Incan sites, Andean valleys, tropical cloud forests and wait for it — llamas! The Salkantay is an intense trek usually lasting five days, but there are a few that go from three to eight days. Along the way, you’ll find Andean huts, jungle domes, Humantay Lake, the Amazon rainforest and coffee plantations.
Stay overnight on a human-made “floating island”
After a good chunk of the week spent in the wilderness, you may be itching for some home-cooked food and a heater. Next up, we’re heading to Lake Titicaca, home to more than 60 artificial floating islands. The Uros, Indigenous people who built and still inhabit the site today, use thick buoyant totora reeds found near the lake to build and maintain islands as well as houses and watchtowers. You can stay with one of the numerous families who stay on these floating islands year-round, who kindly offer their homes as a source of income. Be prepared to fill your stomach with plenty of bread and pancakes as they do not carry refrigerators on their islands.
For all the foodies out there
So you’ve had your fill of carbs, but now you’re craving some real food. Get ready, because we’re heading to Lima’s infamous food tour. Lima, Peru’s capital, holds the title of the World’s Leading Culinary Destination. Start off with a Pisco sour, a Peruvian cocktail, with a view of the beach. Next, get a taste of Peru through a cooking lesson on how to make plantain ceviche. End the night with ice cream while taking the stroll through Barranco, the most romantic part of town. It’s often said that if you hold your breath while crossing the Bridge of Sighs, your wish will come true!
Make your own chocolates!
If you like chocolate (who doesn’t), stop by the ChocoMuseo located in Cusco and Lima. It’s part museum, part shop and chocolate-making classroom. The family-friendly workshop teaches students how chocolate is made from a tiny bean to the final product. You get to be hands-on with toasting the bean, choosing your fillings, filling your chocolate and of course, eating it! You can also buy chocolate-based products, from cocoa tea and lip balms to shampoos and chocolate condoms (yes, you read that right).
If this wasn’t enough to convince you, there are plenty of other experiences such as desserts at La Bonbonniere, white water rafting in the Urubamba, picking out fruits at the San Pedro Market — all awaiting your next visit.