Jump off the bandwagon in Peru and Bolivia and experience some of Travel Expert, Ross’ hidden gems. He’s chosen some of his favourite things to do that are sure to make your South America trip one to remember!
1. Don’t avoid Lima (as many suggest)
Lima’s water park is a hidden gem in this city and is available to you explore. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around the beautiful fountains either during the day, or at night when the water is lit up in a spectacular laser light show.
2. Try traditional dance in Lima
Las Brisas del Titicaca is Lima’s best folklore dance show. Food and drink is available as you sit and enjoy the spectacle of various forms of Peru’s traditional dance. It offers an intimate seating arrangement where the audience are encouraged to join the dance floor. The party lasts long after the last scheduled dance and it’s one of Lima’s better parties.
3. Get a taste for Peruvian cuisine
Peruvian cuisine is growing in popularity as it puts it mark on the global culinary map. Travellers can indulge in a wide variety of regional delights, including arguably the continent’s finest ceviche (raw seafood in a lime marinade), traditional specialties such as alpaca steak and roasted cuy (the infamous guinea pig), and tasty, leaf-wrapped Peruvian snacks like juanes, tamales and humitas.
4. Brave some of the extreme sports
If you like adventure, Peru is the perfect place – there are plenty of things to jump off, climb up, and slide down, like:
• Paragliding off the coastal cliffs of Lima
• Sandboarding down giant dunes near Huacachina
• Taking a dune buggy for a spin in the desert
• Surfing some serious waves along Peru’s extensive coastline
• River running in the Amazon’s upper reaches
5. Hike the Colca Canyon
The Colca Canyon’s claim to fame is that it’s twice as deep as the Grand, though the walls are not as vertical or dramatic. The region is also well-known as the home of the rare Andean Condor, an enormous bird with the largest wing span of any land bird, at 3.2 meters. There are several mountain villages in the valley but the most popular with tourists is the town of Chivay, celebrated for its natural hot springs and dramatic views.
6. Witness the wildlife of the Ballestas Islands
The Islas Ballestas are accessible from the beach town of Paracas by tour boat, typically lasting about 2 hours. Often described as the Galapagos Islands of Peru, the islands are home to many rare birds, including pelicans, penguins, cormorants, Peruvian boobies, and Inca terns. It’s also common to spot sea lions, turtles, dolphins, and whales in the park.
7. Explore the Santa Catalina Monastery, Arequipa
Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, the Santa Catalina monastery takes up an entire block. The nuns lived inside the monastery walls, without electricity or running water and completely cut off from the outside world, until the 1970s when it was opened up to the public. You can quite easily spend several hours wandering its quaint and picturesque streets.
8. Watch traditional Cholita Wrestling
Cholitas are indigenous females; they arrive into the ring, amidst smoke and loud music dressed in all of their finery, bowler hat, jewellery and beautiful shawls. These are soon discarded once the action begins (for obvious reasons) and all you see is braided hair and multi-layered skirts flying around, quite a sight.
9. Take in the sights of Lake Titicaca
The radiant blue-turquoise lake is what people come to Copacabana for, and options abound for exploring it. Hiking trails along the shore is a great way to see the lake for different perspectives, with white-capped mountains in the background. Kayaking or paddle-boating your way around the bay gets travellers up close and personal with the lake.
10. Uncover the surrounding areas of the Salt Flats
The Salar de Uyuni is one of the most beautiful places on earth, not just the actual salt flat but the whole area is full of mineral-laden lakes and Dali-esque landscapes. This is full of amazing photo opportunities and is simply incredible.