Peru is a country known for its culture, food and of course the ancient Inca civilization Machu Picchu.  While the main attraction situated in a cloud forest will undoubtedly take your breath away, what many do not realize is that walking through the artisan neighborhood of San Blas in Cusco, watching condors along the Salkantay Pass, taking a glacial dip in Humantay Lake and going fishing for piranhas in the Amazon are memorable activities that also merit a spot on your bucket list.

Your first step off of the plane in Cusco may have you feeling a bit nauseous as altitude sickness is common in a city that is 11,800 feet above sea level.  While this can last for the first couple days, there are natural remedies such as coca teas and candies that are known for their medicinal benefits.

Once acclimated don’t waste any time and head to Plaza del Armas. The main square in the city has a European feel to it which can be attributed to its Spanish conquest in 1536.  Check out LIMO (located in the north-east corner of the plaza) for mouth-watering ceviche and delicious cocktails made from the Peruvian brandy Pisco.  Other delicacies that are worth trying are Lomo Saltado, Aplaca, and even Guinea Pig.

Once ready for the main attraction, book a stay with Mountain Lodges of Peru where you can hike from lodge to lodge with Machu Picchu being the final destination. Stops include visits to Humantay Lake where those who dare can take an once-in-a-lifetime dip in the lakes pristine blue waters, watching Andean Condors circle above the Salkantay pass, smelling wild orchids and other fauna that grow along the cloud forest’s diverse ecosystem and making once in a lifetime memories with friends who will join you on your adventure.

Other notable stops that should be included in your itinerary around Peru (in no particular order): Puno, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Iquitos, Huacachina, and the Nazca Lines. If you have visited Peru, be sure to share some of your top recommendations and other must-see attractions.

– Kasey McKenna

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