Peru’s Stunning Unspoiled Landscapes

Peru has awe-inspiring landscapes in spades. Everyone knows famous Peruvian destinations like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Lake Titicaca, but there are also plenty of spectacular and nearly secret locations not on the classic tourist routes. These places may take a bit more effort to get to, but the reward is having a magical experience without the crowds. Here are some of Peru’s most stunning but less well-known landscapes.

24, Peru
If you are into ecotourism and yearning for an almost untouched landscape, Reserve Paisajistica Nor Yauyos-Cochas is the place to go. Even though it is located within the Lima region, it is actually located around 3,000 meters above sea level. The destination itself is characterized by the stunning views that you’ll encounter while exploring the surroundings. Amid lush forest and sweeping pampas, you’ll find lots of small lakes full of diverse birds species and herds of camelids. This is a natural conservation area, and once you get here you will understand why. Camp beside the main lake (Piquecocha) for easy access to the rest of the park. Remember to bring plenty of water, and warm clothes for the night. You can reach the reserve using one of the cheap bus services offered by local tour operators.
In the summer, the Lachay Hills are desert-like and unpopulated. Winter is when the magic happens. Between the months of July and October, the humidity of the mist generates a unique ecosystem of wild flora and fauna, including eagles, foxes, owls, and various rodents. You can camp here, but you won’t find any electricity or other facilities.
Amazonas, Peru
Gocta Falls, with the longest drop at 1772 feet, have been ranked everywhere from the third to the fifteenth highest waterfalls in the world. This hidden gem lies in the Chachapoyas region, between the Andes Mountains and lush Amazon rainforest. These mighty falls are located 2,000 meters above sea level, but the climate remains tropical and the jungle remains dense.
Huarochirí Province, Peru
Some say that the sunrise at Marcahuasi is the best in the country. This high plateau, located 4,100 meters above sea level, has long been a popular camping site for locals. The main attractions are mysterious rock formations which resemble llamas, human faces, and even turtles. This effect is particularly pronounced in the moonlight. The plateau is located 90km east of Lima – a relatively quick drive or bus ride from the capital. Leave your vehicle in the closest village, San Pedro, and then hike in. If you visit Marcahuasi at the end of July, you may enjoy the annual village festival, with its three days of music, dancing, and festivities.
Peru
Rupac is a pre-Incan ceremonial site nestled into the highlands near Lima. To reach the ruins, you must undertake a three-hour trek uphill to 3,000 meters above sea level, but the view is worth it – especially if you arrive in time to witness a colorful, dazzling sunset. After a night of camping under a starry night, you may explore the “chullpas,” ancient funerary towers that rise above the clouds. Several tour operators offer a two-day package that includes transportation to Rupac and a guide through the site.
Frente a, Farmacia el Pueblo - Cevichería el Rey, Jr. Bolognesi Frente a, Oxapampa, Peru
Oxapampa might be best described as a German village transported to the middle of the high jungle. It was founded in the mid-1800s when 10,000 colonists from central Europe came to the Americas in search of a better future. This mix of cultures in a exotic landscape makes it an interesting destination. Once you get there, you find a small village (that seems to be taken from a fairy tale), where the food is great and the people are welcoming. The waterfalls and beautiful green countryside make the surrounding area perfect for hiking and camping. Oxapampa is a ten hour bus trip from Lima – no flights available for coming here.
Cumbemayo, Peru
The Cumbemayo Stone Forest, which covers an area of 25,000 sq/mt, is the largest known megalithic building site in the Americas. There is plenty of space for you to get lost and feel as though you’re going several thousand years back in time. The site is surrounded by beautiful water channels, hills, and forest. The aqueduct is a channel finely carved into the stone, more than 1 km in length, with borders and straight angles build in to control flow speed. You’ll also find sanctuaries, caves with stone carvings, and an ancient fortress.
Huacachina is a coastal desert located in the Ica region. It holds one of the few oases in the whole region: a blue-green lake amid huge sand dunes under a beautifully clear sky. Take a dune buggy so that you can ride all over the dunes before riding a sand board down. This is the definition of a touristic little town, and it is definitely worth a visit. You’ll find some nice hostels ands lodges where you can stay overnight right in the middle of the oasis. Huacachina Oasis is a short four-hour drive from Lima, and there are also plenty of buses that will bring you here.
Huarmey, Peru
Huarmey is a small beach town located on the Ancash shore. The town itself is quiet and nondescript, but the beach is spectacular. You’l find crystalline water, sea-swept rock formations, and a deeply peaceful atmosphere. Huarmey is also a popular regional surf spot, and it is renowned for its excellent waves. There are several small hostels and lodges in town, but you can also just camp out on the beach.
Lake 69 is a large aquamarine lake at 15,256 feet (4650 meters) above sea level. It lies at the end of the Demanda Valley, the continuation of the Llanganuco Gorge. The lake’s pure color and crystalline waters lend this place a near-mystical beauty. Getting here is no easy feat, with a cold, four-hour trek at high altitude, but the view is well-worth the journey. If that doesn’t sound spectacular enough, a large waterfall crashes down into the lake from the glacier above.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure