Peru, a land of staggering beauty and rich history, has captured the hearts of travelers for centuries. Nestled in South America, this enchanting country is a treasure trove of diverse landscapes, from the lush Amazon rainforest to the towering peaks of the Andes Mountains. But Peru is much more than just stunning scenery; it’s a cultural kaleidoscope, a place where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern life. Get ready to be inspired, enchanted, and transported to a world where history and nature collide in breathtaking harmony. Welcome to the wonders of Peru!
We don’t even have to mention Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. We do have to clarify that you need at least 3 days to explore Cusco, so plan this for before or after your service program. But besides Machu Picchu, there are literally hundreds of amazing sites that you can visit in Cusco, and no amount of days would be enough to explore all its wonders. You should look at The Inca Trail, running 26 miles through the Andes Mountains, cloud forests, jungles and Inca ruins all the way to Machu Picchu. Don’t forget about Ollantaytambo either, a charming village dominated by two massive Inca ruins and the best surviving example of Inca city planning dating back to the 13th century. Finally, for the most adventurous ones, you may want to look at the Rainbow Mountain.
Peru is mostly jungle: 60% of the country is majestic, exotic, and exciting Amazon jungle. This is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, full of animals from sloths and jaguars, to anacondas and piranhas. But don’t worry, tours can vary from the most adventurous to the most luxurious and worry-free you can imagine. You can fly to Puerto Maldonado, stay at a luxury lodge, and enjoy stunning views as well as a variety of tour options. You won’t regret it!
It is known as the “White City” as it’s filled with baroque buildings made with white volcanic stone and it sits at the feet of the Misti volcano. Besides enjoying the Historical City Center by foot and its wonderful cuisine, you should visit the Santa Catalina Monastery, an architectonical jewel built in 1579. Finally, again for the more adventurous, you can’t miss the Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca is the perfect place for hiking and getting a glimpse of the majestic condor.
While you will technically be staying in Lima, you will be far from the historical center and main tourist attractions. We suggest you take advantage of the weekend and explore some cool sites. Volunteers’ favorites include:
- Huaca Pucllana – a 1,500-year-old archaeological complex with a nice Peruvian restaurant overlooking the ruins, perfect for dinner.
- The Inca Market – for those who like shopping, a couple of blocks full of shops with typical Peruvian souvenirs and handcrafted objects, including jewelry and alpaca clothing.
- Museo Larco – featuring a great collection of Peruvian pre-Columbian exhibits, beautiful gardens, and a gorgeous restaurant.
- Historic Center of Lima – includes the Plaza Mayor, Presidential Palace, Lima’s Cathedral, and other majestic colonial buildings. We suggest you tour the Convent of San Francisco, an architectonic complex built in the 17th century with a network of underground galleries and catacombs. If you like art you should also check out Lima’s art museum: MALI.
- Barranco – Lima’s bohemian district overlooking the Pacific. Its colonial architecture is home to great restaurants, bars, and art museums.
Puno – Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and home to the Uros people, a culture that lives on islands made from reeds. Close to Lake Titicaca you also have Sillustani, a site full of chullpas, funerary towers standing as high as 40 feet built around AD 600.
Pisco-Paracas-Ica-Nazca (AKA: Vineyards, luxury resorts, oasis adventures, and Nazca lines)
Another perfect weekend adventure is this group of neighboring towns in the southern Pacific coast. Pisco is the hometown of the national brandy of the same name, and the perfect place for a vineyard tour. A few minutes down the highway you can get to the Islas Ballestas (Paracas), home to thousands of birds, sea lions, pelicans, penguins, and dolphins. Here you can also enjoy some of the most luxurious resorts in Peru. Further south you have Huacachina (Ica), a natural oasis perfect for dune buggies and sandboarding. And finally, you have the Nazca Lines, huge figures created between 200 BC and 700 AD that can only be seen from the sky.
Punta Sal, nestled along the stunning coast of northern Peru, is a paradise for beach enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its warm Pacific waters and golden sandy shores, it’s the perfect destination for relaxation and adventure alike. Visitors can bask in the sun, take refreshing dips in the sea, or try their hand at water sports like surfing and snorkeling. Beyond the beach, the region offers opportunities to explore lush mangrove forests, visit nearby archaeological sites, or indulge in delicious Peruvian cuisine. Whether you seek tranquility by the sea or an active vacation filled with exploration, Punta Sal promises an unforgettable getaway.
Volunteering in Peru allows you to connect with its people on a profound level.
Peru is a country that welcomes travelers with open arms, inviting them to give back to the communities that make the country unique.
Global Volunteers in partnership with dedicated community leaders, aim to eradicate hunger, improve healthcare, and enhance education through the Reaching Children’s Potential Program. As a volunteer you can help in a number of areas; help students of all ages improve their English skills, provide medical assistance and support at the community clinic, conduct interactive workshops on various topics for parents, teach various subjects and assist with homework, stimulate preschool children’s development through activities, or maintain and repair center facilities.
Volunteering allows you to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Peru while making a positive impact on the lives of those in need. By volunteering, you become a part of the journey to uplift children and families from the cycle of poverty, promoting a brighter and more promising future for all.