Travel in Peru – Beyond Machu Picchu

In this blog,  Peru travel guide of nearly 15 years, Fernando Figueroa, shares a local perspective on how things have changed in Peru and what those changes mean to communities. As more people travel to Peru, locals are trying to find new ways of enticing people to other, little-known sites across the country. Read on to learn about some of these up-and-coming sites to see when you travel in Peru – beyond Machu Picchu.

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There is a lot of talk recently about overtourism in Peru. What are some of the things tourists can do differently?

In the last decade tourism has been increasing, especially since Machu Picchu was nominated as one of the new seven wonders. But people hear about Machu Picchu and the classic Inca trail only. We know that there are other things that can be visited as part of a Peru trip, such as Kuelap, Ballesta Island, Huaraz, Puerto Maldonado, and some other regions that can be included in a Peru experience.

Peru mountains

Image by Götz Friedrich from Pixabay

Just in Cusco we have varsities of places like Incan sites that are not that popular, but they are very important to have a better understanding of what the Inca civilization was about. For example, there is the hanging bridge “queswachaca” that is located a couple of hours away from Cusco. There is the Pumamarca ruins along the Sacred Valley. A traveller could be part of a Cusco home-stay to spend time in someone’s house to see the day-to-day life. These are some other activities that can be part of a unique experience and still include seeing Machu Picchu – that way we can spread out the visit to Peru and Machu Picchu, and not just have all the travellers in the same places.

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What are some of the places you like to explore around Cusco?

Huchuyqosqo is an Incan archaeological complex on the side of a mountain a large open ceremonial centre. There’s an amazing panoramic view of the Sacred Valley, the Vilcanota River, and the mountain range of the same name. There is a trek around the ruins and down the mountain to a town called Lamay. Here, there is a special place called “parque de la papa”, Potato Park, a great place to learn about Peru’s agriculture.

Patabamba is a hike along a path that leads to the Tauca town, with ruins and wild crops, such as tarwi, and cactus. Along the way, there are Incan remains and various Inca bridges and sets of stairs (some of the best Inca Stairs anywhere). The path leads to Huchuygoso.

Do you think there are other parts of Peru, ie Lares, that will become popular?

Another place that is becoming popular is Choquequirao, which is considered as the other Machu Picchu. But, we can only access this place by walking two days on a challenging trek. These last few years the government is working to make easier access by constructing cable cars in certain parts so the hike won’t be as difficult as it is now.

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For travellers who want to get off the beaten path, what should check out?

Vilcabamba (Espiritu Pampa) is another forgotten place that is recently becoming better known because the Peruvian government is investing in the research and cleaning of the area. These Incan sites were the last cities of the Incas when they fled away from the Spaniards conquistadors.

Most of the places that we local people visit are so impressive, but they are not visited by outsiders because they are difficult to access. But, as I mentioned earlier, the government and some NGOs are working to make them more accessible. I’m sure in some years they will have many visitors.

Read more about Fernando’s experiences in Peru and recommendations on how to travel with purpose.

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