Picking our top 20 insider experiences in Peru, Bolivia and the Galapagos is nearly impossible. But as we celebrate 20 years of Aracari Travel and 20 years of tailoring unique and authentic experiences, it’s a time to celebrate the incredible places and people that make this part of the world so special.
Top 20 Insider experiences in Peru, Bolivia & The Galapagos to inspire your next trip
1. SWIM IN THE COLOURFUL AMAZON JUNGLE AT SUNSET
Visiting the Amazon Jungle, the world’s largest tropical rain forest and one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet is an experience in itself, with such a concentration of wildlife. So how can that possibly be topped? How about a magical swim at sunset when the sky over the Amazon is on fire with hues of red and orange, beautifully mirrored in the water along with the silhouette of the trees. The sites and sounds of the rain forest at this time are incredible. If you’re lucky you’ll get a friendly visit from the famous pink river dolphins.
2. ADMIRE APU AUSANGATE FROM AUSANGATE COCHA LODGE
The Ausangate Lodge to Lodge trek is a breath taking trek through the Vilcanota Cordillera and in close proximity to the highest sacred mountain in Cusco, the Apu Ausangate. On the second night of the trek, you stay at Ausangate Cocha Lodge. The view of the mountain is spectacular, and you’re given the opportunity to take part in a special ceremony giving offerings so that Apu will grant you safe passage with his blessing. Read Marisol’s blog after doing the Apu’s Trail.
3. HIKE TO SEE THE SARCOPHAGI OF KARAJIA
After a scenic 40 minute hike through the mystical cloud forest of Chachapoyas in northern Peru, you arrive to witness one of the most impressive and remote archaeological sites in the country. The six ornate figures have been standing on that ledge gazing out across the valley for over 750 years. Little is known about the civilisation that left them – the figures guard the secrets and the legacy of the ancient Chachapoyas people. Have a look at our Peru’s Best Kept Secret itinerary to explore the region with Aracari.
4. WATCH THE SEÑOR DE LOS TEMBLORES PROCESSION IN CUSCO
Sitting on a rooftop terrace of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco is the perfect vantage point to watch this important procession through the streets of Cusco. The city’s most venerated image of Christ is taken out in procession in the afternoon on Holy Monday. Showcasing authentic Andean culture and tradition, the whole city participates in Señor de los Tremblores, and it’s a sight to behold. Check out our calendar of festivals in Peru.
5. WALK THROUGH INTI PUNKU (SUN GATE) TO MACHU PICCHU
Bragging rights and photo opp! Of course Machu Picchu has to be on the list. Whether you opt for the one day or four day version of the Inca Trail trek, your toil is justly rewarded with the incredible view of the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu as you walk through the iconic Inti Punku or Sun Gate at dawn. Aracari specializes in Machu Picchu luxury trips; read our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu itinerary.
6. MEET THE GIANT TORTOISE & MARINE IGUANA IN THE GALAPAGOS
There are few experiences as unique and memorable as getting up close to the extraordinary creatures that inhabit the Galapagos Islands. Lacking the natural fear that most possess in the wild, enjoy encounters with a myriad of unusual species in this precious protected environment. Enjoy luxury travel Galapagos aboard a carefully selected luxury Galapagos cruise. You can combine a Galapagos cruise with a trip to Peru on our special History & Evolution itinerary.
7. EXPLORE LIMA’S HISTORIC CITY CENTRE WITH LUIS VILLACORTA
Aracari offers only the best with top Peru specialists to accommpany you. Luis Villacorta, an academic, has encyclopaedic knowledge of the history and architecture of Lima’s historic centre. With a background in Renaissance architecture, and an interest in urban development and heritage conservation, this will be a tour like no other. Luis loves to share his home city with visitors, offering the best guiding in Peru and making for a memorable visit with conversations to recount for years to come. Read about our other top Peru specialists.
8. VISIT HUACA DE LA LUNA WITH THE HEAD ARCHAEOLOGIST
Exclusive access visits in Peru await history buffs with a visit to Huaca de la Luna, a pre-Inca archaeological site from the Moche (c. 100 – 700 AD) era. The site is known for its impressive colourful friezes and reliefs. The head archaeologist and project director Dr Ricardo Morales will take you behind the scenes where excavation is currently underway, just one of the exclusive access visits in Peru that we arrange. Have a look at our Highlights of Northern Peru itinerary for the best way to visit the area.
9. CRUISE ALONGSIDE HUMPBACK WHALES IN MANCORA
The Humboldt Current off Peru’s pacific coast is teeming with marine wildlife, and at the right time of the year (August to October) offers a rare glimpse of humpback whales breeding and calving. Joining a team of marine biologists on a trip from Mancora is an insightful and interactive experience to get close to these majestic creatures.
10. RIDE THE WAVES OF SAND IN A SAND BUGGY IN PARACAS
Explore the expansive lunar landscape of the desert and the never-ending sand dunes, some of which are over 100 metres high, aboard a speedy sand buggy. This unique and fast-paced adventure in the desert near to Paracas is led by a professional driver and offers panoramic views and the chance to sand board down the dunes. It’s a great activity for a Peru family tour – guaranteed fun for the kids, and kids ‘at heart’ as well! If you’re bringing the whole family, we recommend our Amazing Andean Adventure itinerary.
11. SAMPLE CEVICHE & PISCO SOUR: CULINARY TOUR PERU
A tantalising journey for your taste buds awaits you in Lima, the gastronomic capital of Latin America. With Aracari you can avoid the tourist traps and discover the true insider experiences in Peru. We’ll recommend the best spots for sampling ceviche and tiraditos with the freshest fish, and of course you’ll have to wash it down with a refreshing pisco sour or chilcano. Download our free ebook on peru culinary travel and taste it all on Aracari’s Peru with Flavour itinerary, including food tours with top chefs, dining at the best restaurants, traditional Andean pachamanca experiences and more.
12. LOOK OVER LA PAZ FROM A CABLE CAR
The best way to see the sprawling city of La Paz is from above. To get your bearings and take in the scale and contrasts of the city, take a ride on the lofty cable car to El Alto. Once up there, Aracari offers unique luxury travel Bolivia experiences such as a private tour of the famed Cholets buildings with the architect who started the movement, or meeting a local Cholita female wrestler and watching a match. Read our blog about La Paz showcasing what’s new in the city and then check out Aracari’s Salt Silver & Starlight itinerary, showcasing the best of Bolivia.
13. RIDE THE INCA PRINCESS TRAIN TO MACHU PICCHU
For the ultimate in luxury and privacy, charter the Inca Princess private train carriage to Machu Picchu. You’ll never forget this journey through the stunning Urubamba Valley as you enjoy a gourmet three course gourmet meal and sip on champagne. In between courses, take in the views from the private balcony – definitely the way to arrive at Machu Picchu in style. Keep the class and style going throughout your trip on our Classic Luxury Peru itinerary.
14. ROAM THROUGH COLCA CANYON ON HORSEBACK
One of the deepest canyons in the world, Colca offers dramatic mountainous landscapes with volcanoes and ravines, and unique endangered wildlife such as the Andean Condor and Vicuña (family to the alpaca). Explore the region riding a world-renowned Peruvian Paso Horse, known for its distinguished, four-beat lateral gait called the paso llano. Explore Colca Canyon and nearby Arequipa on Aracari’s Highlights of Southern Peru itinerary.
15. BROWSE LIMA’S LARCO MUSEUM
Housed in an elegant, whitewashed mansion, the Larco Museum hosts the world’s largest private collection of Pre-Columbian art including ceramics, gold and silver jewellery and an extensive selection of ceramics from the Moche culture – featuring memorable erotic pottery. Enjoy an exclusive private tour and then enjoy lunch at the onsite restaurant overlooking the lush gardens.
16. MARVEL AT HUASCARAN MOUNTAIN FROM LLANGANUCO LODGE
Nestled within the foothills of Huascaran, the Llanganuco Lodge is about as close to Peru’s highest mountain (6,858 metres/22,500 feet) as you can stay, with majestic views to take your breath away, and inspire the next day’s trek. The Cordillera Blanca mountain range is the second highest mountain range in the world, after the Himalayas, and a mecca for hiking enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies and nature lovers from all over the world. Consider a hike to Laguna 69, the beautiful turquoise glaciar lake, pictured.
17. RELAX AT HOTEL B AND EXPLORE BARRANCO ON FOOT
It doesn’t get swankier than a stay at Arts Boutique Hotel B in the heart of Lima’s bohemian art district Barranco, one of our favourite hotels in Lima. Hotel B offers the perfect base for exploring the art galleries, fashion boutiques and cafes in this trendy bohemian neighbourhood. We can arrange for a local ‘Friend in the City’ to join you for the afternoon, offering one of Aracari’s true insider experiences in Peru.
18. DISCOVER THE INCA SITE OF CHOQUEQUIRAO
Located above the raging, glacier-fed Apurimac River, surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks and seated on a high ridge, Choquequirao is a remote and rarely visited ‘lost city of the Incas‘. Its name means ‘Cradle of Gold’ in the Quechua language and is believed to be where the last Inca rulers fled following the loss of the city of Cusco to the Spanish during the conquest. Read about the 5 day trek we offer with camping to visit the Inca site, or about our alterantive treks.
19. ATTEND THE BAROQUE MUSIC FESTIVAL IN THE CHIQUITOS MISSIONS
Taking place every two years across over 20 towns in the Chiquitos Missions region of Bolivia, the music festival promotes the culture and traditions of the region and also includes ancient baroque art exhibits, handcraft fairs, theatre and dance exhibits. The festival is inspired by the 10,000 sheets of hand-scored baroque music from the 17th and 18th centuries discovered during the restoration of temples in the region in the 1970s. Here’s a fascinating documentary about Bolivian Baroque Music.
20. EXPLORE DALí DESERT AND LAGUNA HEDIONDA
A landscape so strange, it’s named after a surrealist artist! The Dalí Desert and the Arbol de Piedra (Stone Tree) are unlike any other place on the planet, with endless salt and strange rock formations. Then suddenly the desert comes to life with the nearby sulphur-rich Laguna Hedionda known for its colourful pink flamingo population. Check out our Salt, Silver and Starlight itinerary to Bolivia.
READY TO PACK YOUR BAGS?
Of course it would have been easier to make a list of 100 amazing experiences. Aracari Travel is celebrating 20 years of creating unforgettable insider experiences in Peru, Bolivia and the Galapagos. For more inspiration and a closer look at what we offer, have a look at our destination pages for Peru, Bolivia and the Galapagos.