Machu Picchu is undoubtedly Peru’s number one tourist attraction – and the whole world knows it. That’s why even the most basic of trips there will cost you a whopping $300 USD, a figure that many young backpackers simply don’t have to spend. That’s why we’ve created this list of the top 7 Things To Do Other Than Machu Picchu. Read on…
Explore Colca Canyon
Just a bus ride away from MP, Southern Peru’s Colca Canyon is more than twice as deep as the world-renowned Grand Canyon and probably slightly more interesting too. How many people do you know who have had a photo at the Colca Canyon? Marvel at the soaring Andean condors, one of the largest birds in the world, as well as up to one hundred other different bird species, 300 types of plants, and even thirty cactus species (if cacti are your thing). The Colca Valley meanwhile, is an area of astounding scenic beauty. What more could you ask for?
Why it’s better: Out-do your mate’s boring story about their trip to the Grand Canyon by being able to tell people you’ve visited somewhere that’s twice as deep (and therefore twice as cool).
Money saved: $225 USD
Fly over the Nazca Lines
You’d think with how far we’ve come with technology and research someone would have solved the mystery of the Nazca Lines by now, however they still remain one of the most cryptic sites in the world, with some scholars believing that they date back as far as 500 B.C. Due to their location which offers a stable climate, the lines have been almost perfectly preserved. Nevertheless, as of 2012 it is thought that they are beginning to deteriorate, meaning you might want to stick them on your to-do list before it’s too late! Also, don’t think you have to fork out hundreds for a plane trip to see them – if you can get on to one of the surrounding foothills you’ll still have a decent view of them. You can thank me later for that one.
Why it’s better: The Lines are disappearing, Machu Picchu isn’t.
Money saved: $300 USD (if you take my advice about the hills).
For an even bigger selections of activities to do in Peru, check out this great site here.
Sand boarding in Huacachina
Just give this a read…
Visit Monkey Island in Iquitos
Located on the Amazon River, Iquitos is a sprawling jungle, full of exotic animals and friendly people. However what’s to do there? Well, you’d be nuts to pass up the opportunity to take a speed boat to Monkey Island (locally known as La Isla de Los Monos), spending the day hanging out with monkeys and spotting one of the many varieties of parrots that reside here. At just under $10 USD per visit, you’d be saving a whopping $290 USD more than if you had chosen to go to Machu Picchu (which, by the way, doesn’t have any monkeys). Or maybe, if a day trip to the island doesn’t quite do the job, why not spend a week volunteering there and contribute to promoting their Sustainable Development project?
Why it’s better: See photo for further convincing.
Money saved: $290 USD.
Climb Misti Volcano
With an altitude of nearly 6,000 meters, Misti Volcano is the most well known symbol of the city of Arequipa, and very much a part of its rich history. The good news is that you don’t need to be an experienced mountaineer to climb it either – it’s considered to be one of the easiest mountain ascents of that altitude in the world, and will take only a couple of days to reach its peak. However, like any trek, it’s by no means easy and having a guide is strongly recommended. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, another option is to arrange a downhill biking trip that begins on one of the mountains slopes and ends in the city center. If you’ve had a few piscos the day before, then this one will probably better appeal.
Why it’s better: It’s just a lava-ly alternative.
Money saved: $125 USD.
Food Walking Tour in Lima
Okay, so maybe a food walking tour doesn’t sound quite as impressive as ancient ruins, but if you’re in Peru and you’re hungry, Machu Picchu certainly isn’t going to feed you delicious local food (the Incas were good, but not that good). The Food Walking Tour Peru is a great way to explore Lima’s streets while satisfying your hunger in a unique way. We recommend the Bites in Bikes tour, where you’ll ride through the quirky areas of Miraflores and Barranco, along the beautiful coastline leading to a real fisherman’s market, embarking on a street art tour, and ending with drinking a craft beer in a local brewery. Sweet.
Why it’s better: Food Walking Tour…Food Walking…Food…
Money saved: $250 USD.
Walk through Arequipa
You might’ve heard that Cusco is the city to visit, but, due to its proximity to Machu Picchu, it has become a tourist trap, with high prices and travel agencies everywhere you look. Arequipa on the other hand will give you a far more authentic Peruvian experience, while at the same time offering some of the best food in South America. After a cheap bite to eat at one of the city’s many local restaurants, you can take a walk through the Plaza de Armas, named a World Heritage Site in 2000, before checking out the Ice Maiden, on display at the Museo Santuarios Andinos. (It’s just a 600-year old frozen woman if you were wondering).
Why it’s better: You can get the full Peruvian experience whilst avoiding packs of tourists (unless they too have read this blog post, in which case we apologize).
Money saved: $300 USD – yes, walking can be free.
So to conclude…
Total money saved (if you would have visited Machu Picchu seven times instead): $1,740 USD.
Say no more.
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