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The Best Outdoor Activities in Peru

For the adventurous spirit who enjoys the outdoors, travel to Peru to experience the vacation of a lifetime.

Join any number of South America tours for your journey to Peru and the northwestern region of the continent.

Visitors to Peru will be situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains with a host ways to get close to nature. Plenty of Peru tours are available to help you get a lay of the land.

If you're planning an itinerary for Peru, be sure to include these ten outdoor activities to make the most of the lush, green land of Peru.

1. Whitewater Rafting

If hitting white water rapids sounds like a thrill, then the Urubamba River in Cusco is a definite hot spot.

This area is considered Peru's rafting capital, with the Andes providing amazing scenery beyond compare.

For those who wish for a more extreme experience, leave Cusco for the Tambopata River, where you'll ride on a rush of whitewater and find yourself in the jungle.

For the experienced rafter, a trip through the Colca Canyon near Arequipa would make for an excellent adventure.

2. Exploring Colca Canyon

In addition to seeing Colca Canyon from the water, it is a fantastic place for hiking in Peru.

There are guided Peru tours through the Canyon, or one can go on solo trips. There are a range of opportunities, from day hikes to three-day stays.

The most advanced option involves a five-day hike down the canyon before crossing a snowy pass and ending in the Valley of the Volcanos.

There are huts available for overnight stays, or hikers can bring a tent. The river adds the enticement of a swim in refreshing pools.

3. Volcano Climbing Near Arequipa

Volcano climbing near Arequipa should be a goal for the outdoor enthusiast in Peru.

Known as the “White City” in southern Peru, Arequipa's claim to fame is being surrounded by volcanoes.

Climbing to the peak of Picchu Picchu, one of the favorites offers a breathtaking, colorful view as a reward.

El Misti cone is another prime location where tourists admire white volcanic rock.

Chachani provides one of the higher climbs for those who welcome a challenge.

4. Bird Watching in the Amazon

For wildlife and bird lovers, Peru boasts the second most significant portion of the Amazon rainforest, surpassed only by Brazil.

Ample opportunities to experience flora and fauna can be found in the rainforest.

Peru has a dense population of birds, butterflies, orchids, and mammals in the depths of the forest.

It would be well worth a tour to experience its wonders. There is even the possibility of new discoveries, seeing species that haven't been identified before.

5. Surfing Peru's Coast

Surfers will delight in hitting the waves on the Pacific coast in Peru.

Mancora is a prime destination, featuring one of the largest left-handed point breaks in the world. Surfers of any ability level can attempt the sport here with pleasure.

6. Trekking Cordillera Blanca

The Cordillera Blanca is the White Mountain Range and offers an exciting opportunity for those who love trekking.

Hikers can come in and acclimatize for a few days before enjoying a hike to even higher altitudes where they can admire the lakes, glaciers, rivers, and an ancient aqueduct.

At the end of their trip, they can rest for another day before going on the next adventure.

7. Mountain Biking in Callejon de Huaylas

Callejon de Huaylas offers an excellent location for mountain biking.

This valley runs between the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra mountain ranges.

Local companies offer guided trips, which will help the extreme biker get the most out of the ride and the scenery.

Huacachina, Peru
Huacachina, Peru (photo: by Andre Kiwitz of Viventura)

8. Sand Boarding in the Oasis of Huacachina

The oasis of Huacachina, located in the village of Ica, offers many options and activities for adventure lovers.

Travel with a guide as you drive ATVs and sand buggies across dunes for the best sandboarding spots.

This activity is not only exhilarating as you surf down Peru's sands but is also a great place to experience the sunset, which seemingly changes the colors of the sand with each passing minute.

Plaza de Armas in Cuzco
Plaza de Armas in Cuzco (photo: by David Lee)

9. Parade in Cuzco

Cuzco, located in a valley, is the perfect setting to watch a parade of horseback riders trot by.

Known as the capital city of the Inca Empire, Cuzco lets tourists experience magnificent archaeological remains of impressive temples and buildings.

Depending on the day, one might see a cavalcade of riders that stroll through the town, re-enacting important historical events.

Although not always in costume, these reenactments allow visitors to learn about the history and truly understand the culture.

Every day, paragliders can be seen flying over Lima's coastline
Every day, paragliders can be seen flying over Lima's coastline (photo: by David Lee)

10. Paragliding in Lima

Due to the constant change and growth in the tourism industry over the past few years, Lima has expanded its activities to adjust to travelers' wants and needs.

One can now find paragliding schools throughout the city and take a one-day course to learn about this exhilarating adventure.

Then take a leap with a highly trained instructor as you fly over the city below, and view the dynamic surroundings as you experience a pure rush of adrenaline.


This story is brought to you in partnership with Viventura.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Katie Martin

Thursday 5th of April 2012

I had never thought about the variety of environment types in Peru- it is so unique! I love that it has major mountains, volcanic areas, rainforest, and beaches. Being in Hawaii I had three of those four environments, but I did miss seeing large mountains in the distance. I am so curious about so many aspects of Peru because I know so little about it. Does most of the population live closer to the coastal areas, or are a lot of people still living in the more mountainous regions? And does most of the populace speak Spanish, or are there at least some region specific dialects still spoken? Also, is it expensive to travel and stay in Peru?

Eyetravelsolo aka kevin

Thursday 1st of March 2012

Great article! So many people believe that the only thing to see in Peru is Macchu Picchu, even though I have not been "YET" :) I have researched, there is a lot more than people know.

Blogging is a good way to get the word out, but you tend to hit "Travellers" already in the know, it's the occasional tourist who doesn't know the full scope. Whether you go on a Tour Group or go it alone, don't restrict yourself to one or two sites & take it slow and absorb the culture. To get a good start I would recommend travel book. Great unbiased info. whether your solo or on a Tour.


Thursday 1st of March 2012

Great, i'm juste in Peru right now!

I know also Viventura from Medellin:-) Who is your contact in Viventura?


Thursday 1st of March 2012

Hey Fabrice, I'm leaving Peru tonight after 5 months here. Enjoy!

I worked with Adriana Gil at Viventura for this article.


Wednesday 29th of February 2012

I was able to check 2,4 and 8 off the list during my trip to Peru in 2011.


Wednesday 29th of February 2012

I like the shot of PLaza de Armas. Nice angle and composition.

Comments are closed.