3 Underrated Destinations in Peru

You finally booked your trip to South America, that one you’ve been craving for such a long time. You’ve researched about many popular destinations like the Salt Flats in Bolivia and the Atacama Desert in Chile – and of course, you can’t wait to see the famous Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru.

Yes, Machu Picchu is beautiful — I almost cried when I walked around the city, marveling at those perfect walls with their massive stones meticulously attached to each other. But what if I told you that Peru has a lot more to offer?

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If you look carefully, you’ll find stunning beaches along the coast, dense forest in the northeast and even the remains of civilizations older than the Incas in the north of the country.

Let me pique your interest:

1. Huanchaco

This city is located on the north coast of Peru, around 600 km above Lima. It’s just 20 minutes away from Trujillo and when you arrive there, you somehow feel instantly welcomed. It has this special energy that only beach cities in warm countries have — a very laid back attitude coupled with smiles all around.

Although I prefer green landscapes, I was mesmerized by the dry scenery. The whole of the coast is situated on the west side of the Andes and it creates a microclimate that resembles a desert.

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You can spend lazy afternoons watching the surfers aptly weaving the perfect waves while you catch some sun. Then, you can stuff your face with the freshest ceviche you’ll find in Peru and finish your day at the pier, taking in the magical sunset over the Pacific.

2. Chachapoyas

If you’re coming from the coast of Peru, you’ll find in Chachapoyas the opposite of beach, sun and desert. The people who lived there were once called “The Cloud People,” as the area is covered with cloud forest.

Because it’s located in the Andes, it’s also a lot colder and wetter, but the views are breathtaking — rich green hills crisscrossed by powerful rivers.

A couple of hours away you’ll find Kuelap, which is in my opinion, Machu Picchu’s biggest contender. It’s the lost city of the Chachapoyas and, probably due to its secretness, it’s almost unspoiled. You’ll find round structures covered in moss and bromeliads as you walk around trying to understand how the people lived so high up in the mountains.

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3. Iquitos

Since I was a child, I’ve heard tales about Iquitos and how dangerous it was. Compared to other Peruvian cities, it’s indeed chaotic, and you should definitely be aware of your surroundings so you don’t get in trouble.

But the beauty of Iquitos is the area in which it’s located: The Amazon. You can only get there by boat or by plane, and once you arrive, you’ll have a myriad of jungle tours to choose from. Thoroughly research each one of them and then make the most of it!

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It’s an amazing experience to explore such a dense and untouched forest. You’ll come across massive spiders, giant frogs, scary snakes and insects you never knew existed. You might swim with the river dolphins or even go fishing for piranhas!

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