6 Places in Peru You Should Visit (Outside of Machu Picchu)

Outside of our work with Huaywasi and the artisans, our HQ team and volunteers of our parent non-profit  LLI also enjoy trips to explore the beautiful country we work in. Although Machu Picchu is a must-see, there are so many other wondrous spots in Peru that are worth a visit! 

As winter commences in the Northern Hemisphere and you find yourself searching daily flights to anywhere warm, we hope the following Peruvian destinations tempt you enough to hit that buy button on a flight to Peru. Each spot is personally recommended by Huaywasi/LLI staff, international volunteers, and local volunteers! (Bonus: 2 of these places are simple day trips from Lima!)

1. Matucana

Catherine, our Holiday Event planner, has been back in Huaycán for the third time this year and has spent considerable time in Peru with both LLI and studying.

 “As someone who doesn't go for hikes regularly, I often struggle to find ones in Peru that are at a low enough elevation, incline and distance for my lifestyle. That's why I was so excited when I discovered Matucana, Peru. Located 4 hours from Lima, a quiet mountain town serves as the perfect base for this picturesque 2-kilometer trek that leads to a waterfall!” 

The LLI and Huaywasi team often go on small day trips to Matucana to enjoy a peaceful and easy hike and to escape Peru’s busy capital Lima. 


Photo: @ Bruno Castro Pletikosic 

2. Laguna Azul, Sauce

Our Women’s Program Manager, Jess, has been in Peru for more than two years now. She says: 

It's so hard to think of my favourite place I've visited in Peru, because there are so many! But I think my favourite is Laguna Azul, in Sauce. It is in the jungle, just outside of Tarapoto. Such a beautiful, peaceful lake!” 

Tarapoto can easily be reached by airplane from Lima and it takes 1 hour and 25 minutes to get there. 

Laguna Azul

Photo: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru/tarapoto/attractions/laguna-azul/a/poi-sig/1408988/363423   

3. Callao Monumental

Caroline, our Teen Program manager, arrived at the end of September and told us: 

I haven't seen much of Peru yet but one of my favorite places in Lima so far has been the area of Callao Monumental. Casa Fugaz has a bunch of interesting art and photography exhibitions and the rooftop has great views of Callao!” 

Callao is often only known as the district where Lima’s international airport is located, or as a dangerous area. However, Callao Monumental and La Punta are beautiful hidden gems where you can forget the craziness of the city (Just be careful with your possessions on your commute there!)

Callao Monumental

 Photo: https://cuponidad.pe/viajes/fullday-callao-real-felipe-callao-monumental-museo-submarino-almuerzo-y-mas-27690 

4. Arequipa

Eva, Huaywasi’s Business Communications intern, arrived in Lima at the end of August and likes to travel as much as she can. Her favorite place in Peru is the region of Arequipa. 

In addition to the beautiful Colca Canyon (the second deepest canyon in the world), the region has so much to offer. From salt terraces to Vicuña-protected national parks and beautiful hidden waterfalls, there is something for every traveler in Arequipa. Take your time there to explore the region or even climb one of the three volcanoes that surround the city!” 

Arequipa, the White City, is the second biggest city in Peru, after Lima. The historic center is small and has a colonial feeling to it, but around the city are a lot of farms where many different types of potatoes grow. 

Arequipa Region

Photo: ANDINA/Difusión

5. Cajamarca

Rodrigo, our local volunteer who teaches English to teens, finds that Cajamarco is better than Cusco. 

There is a lot of history in the city and you can find a lot of museums as well. When the Spanish conquered the Incan emperor Atahualpa in 1532, he offered them a room full of gold to let him live. In Cajamarca you can still see that room. The landscapes around Cajamarca are also beautiful. I like playing video games and the landscapes looked somewhat like games I used to play.” 

The Cajamarca highlands are located in the north of Peru (the northern province of Cajamarca borders with Ecuador), with the left side of the region boasting beaches and the right side housing the jungle. You can reach Cajamarca from Lima by flying a little over an hour or a 16 hour bus. 


Photo: https://www.dikatravelperu.travel/resena-cajamarca/  

6. Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley

Our Huaywasi manager, Jill, has been living in Peru for a year and a half and tries to travel to a new place every holiday she gets. 

“An area that many times gets overlooked or rushed through is the Sacred Valley because of its proximity to Cusco and Machu Picchu. The Sacred Valley has so much to offer in terms of cozy towns, beautiful scenery, and enduring cultures where many natives still speak Quechua. Thus far, my favorite town within Sacred Valley has been Ollantaytambo because it is quiet and has well preserved ruins that you could explore for hours. Slow down your trip and take a week to explore the Sacred Valley if you can, I cannot wait to return and explore other towns within it.”

Ollantaytambo is located about 95 km outside of Cusco and can be easily accessible through public transportation called ‘colectivos’ in Peru.


Source: Primera Edicion

We hope these Peruvian spots have inspired you to pick up your passport this holiday season or in 2020. Machu Picchu is without a doubt an unforgettable experience to enjoy while you’re here, but we hope you can check out more of these hidden treasures above as you travel!

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