Peru is one of the most heavily visited countries in South America, a fact that is most easily felt during the high and dry travel season between May and August when crowds are largest. To escape from the groups, there are many alternative ways of travel that give the same if not better experiences in the end. Consider these 3 options the next time you want a breath of fresh air off the beaten path.
1. Sail from Yurimaguas to Iquitos – Iquitos is the largest city on earth only accessible by air or water. On this 3 or 4 day cruise down the infamous Amazon River, you will get to slowly bask in the glory of the rainforest all around you while observing life along the banks of the water. At night, from the comfort of your personal hammock, listen to the exotic animal sounds coming out of the darkness. Most Peru Amazon tours include a cruise, but this strips away all the fancy add-ons and leaves you with only the essentials of the nature around you.
2. Train from Lima to Huancayo – The central Andes of Peru is arguably the most authentic and tradition of the country. Indeed, the cultural elements and traditions of the area east of Lima have been passed on for centuries by its people, making Huancayo and the villages around it in the Mantaro Valley the richest and most diversified in handicrafts, from intricate gourd carvings to fine silver jewelry making. The trip there is half the fun as well, since the journey was once the tallest in the world up until a few years ago when the Chinese built an even higher one. The 12 hours of scenery and landscapes as you wave through the mountains, rivers, and valleys will prove to be unforgettable.
3. Trek the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu – Everyone wants to go to Machu Picchu, and the Inca Trail is one of the most popular in not only Peru but in the world. It is so heavily used, in fact, that the trail must be shut down for the entire month of January each year to allow it to recuperate. To approach the magnificent Machu Picchu citadel built by the Inca people over 600 years ago, embark on the Salkantay trek which usually takes 5 days and 4 nights. The natural landscapes along the way rival that of the Inca Trail, and the last day is spent touring the Machu Picchu archeological site.