Off Pisco: 9 alternative trips in Peru that go beyond the Inca Trail

From remote Amazon biospheres to the archaeological wonders of the north, there’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu. Discover it all on these off-beat adventures to every corner of the country

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1: Experience a riot of Amazonian wildlife

Macaws on a clay lick in the Peruvian Amazon jungle (Dreamstime)

Macaws on a clay lick in the Peruvian Amazon jungle (Dreamstime)

Journey deep into the Peruvian Amazon on a wildlife adventure like no other with Peregrine.

Staying in remote lodges in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, you’ll have unequalled access to the jungle’s extraordinary wildlife. Whether it’s on an early morning river cruise or a trek through the jungle at dusk or at night, you’ll go in search of sloths, howler monkeys, black caimans, jaguars and tapirs. 

A visit to the clay lick at Heath River is an undoubted highlight. The fifth largest clay lick in the world, it attracts a huge variety of animals in search of extra nutrients, including huge flocks of brightly coloured macaws that descend noisily, en masse.

Trip: Remote Amazon Experience - Independent

Who: Peregrine

When: departures throughout the year

How long: 5 days

How much: From £845 (exc. flights)

2: Hike between two different worlds

Llama in high altitudes near Ausangate (Dreamstime)

Llama in high altitudes near Ausangate (Dreamstime)

Walk the line dividing the highland empire of the Incas from the steamy jungles of the Amazon on this breathtaking trek through the Vilcanota range with Journey Latin America.

The five-day trek will take you below the north face of Ausangate, the highest snow-draped mountain in the region. En route you'll cross three high-altitude passes – with views of gigantic glaciers, icy lakes and jagged peaks – and pass by isolated farmsteads and traditional indigenous villages where you’ll stay in remote, but comfortable lodges.

Trip: Active Peru: The Ausangate Trek

Who: Journey Latin America

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 11 days

How much: From £2,288 (exc. flights)

3: Take a bite out of Lima

Cerviche in Lima (Dreamstime)

Cerviche in Lima (Dreamstime)

Indulge your palate on this three-day foodie adventure in the Peruvian capital with Intrepid.

You’ll experience Peru’s charismatic capital in all its gastronomic glory. Starting with a tour of the Surquillo market, shopping for local ingredients, you’ll be shown local cooking secrets as you prepare some of the city’s signature dishes. Next, a visit to a pisco bodega, where you’ll learn everything there is to know about this popular spirit. After a walking tour of bustling Barranco, you’ll enjoy a home-cooked Peruvian meal – a fitting and filling end to this fabulous adventure.

Trip: Bite-size Break Lima

Who: Intrepid

When: Regular departures throughout the year

How long: 3 days

How much: From £138 (exc. flights)

4: Tackle Peru by 4WD

Off-road vehicle in the middle of Peruvian highlands (Dreamstime)

Off-road vehicle in the middle of Peruvian highlands (Dreamstime)

Reach the parts of Peru most travellers can’t on this 4×4 self-drive expedition with Peru Safari.

From a 17th century hacienda base in the mountains above Lima, you’ll set out in your fully kitted expedition vehicle, ready to take on the desert, Andes and the Amazon. Your itinerary will be tailored to what you want to see – offering adventure, authenticity, and the independence, as well as the reassuring back up of a guide vehicle.

This is Peru your way and at your pace. And, most of the time, without another tourist in sight.

Trip: Peru 4x4 Self Drive Guided Adventure

Who: Peru Safari

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,980 (exc. flights)

5: Discover hidden Peru

Horse grazing near Gocta Waterfall (Dreamstime)

Horse grazing near Gocta Waterfall (Dreamstime)

When everyone else zigs, you zag on this adventure through hidden Peru with Travel The Unknown.

By stepping away from the tourist trail, you’ll get to know the real Peru. You’ll explore Peru's colonial and pre-colonial history at Lima's excellent museums before sampling Peruvian delicacies in the trendy Barranco District. You’ll marvel at the sheer majesty of the Gocta Waterfall, seek out the ancient sarcophagi of Karaija and discover the lost ruins of Kuelap, deep in the jungle. This is Peru, but not as most people get to experience it.

Trip: Hidden Peru

Who: Travel The Unknown

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 9 days

How much: POA

6: Help save the Amazon

A jaguar in the jungle (Dreamstime)

A jaguar in the jungle (Dreamstime)

Do your bit to help preserve the flora and fauna of the Peruvian Amazon on this conservation experience with Wildlife Worldwide.

Based on the fringes of Manú National Park – a UNESCO recognised biosphere reserve and World Heritage Site – you’ll play an integral part in conservation research and sustainable community initiatives. You’ll have your work cut out for you – the park is home to over 1000 species of birds, as well as larger wildlife including jaguar, puma, giant otter, giant anteater, giant armadillo and two and three-toed sloth. 

The rewards, however, are immense.

Trip: Amazon Conservation Experience in Peru

Who: The Great Projects

When: Departures Jun-Oct

How long: 33 days

How much: From £1,595 (exc. flights)

7: Join an Andean community

Children in Peruvian village (Dreamstime)

Children in Peruvian village (Dreamstime)

Delve deep into Peruvian culture on this anthropological adventure through traditional Andean communities with Evaneos. 

During this exceptional tour, you will visit a number of traditional communities and stay with local families. They will share their daily activities and beliefs with you and you will get in touch with their culture, customs and ancestral traditions. It is a truly cross-cultural experience and one that will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Trip: Meeting The Andean Communities

Who: Evaneos

When: flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,200 (exc. flights)

8: Hike the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit

Sunrise in the Cordillera Huayhuash (Dreamstime)

Sunrise in the Cordillera Huayhuash (Dreamstime)

Tackle one of the world’s great treks on this expert-led, off-the-beaten-track walking holiday in northern Peru with KE Adventure.

The compact massif of Peru's Cordillera Huayhuash is famed for its dramatic mountain scenery, typified by fluted ice faces and knife-edge ridges, and was the inspiration behind Joe Simpson's best-selling book, Touching the Void. It presents a rewarding challenge to regular hillwalkers, crossing a succession of high passes, and into remote valleys for views of Peru’s highest peaks. You’ll camp beside green glacial lakes, experience indigenous Quechua culture and spot Andean wildlife like the majestic condor.

Trip: Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: May

How long: 21 days

How much: £2,695 (exc. flights)

9: Experience the wonders of the north

Chan Chan Ruins, Trujillo (Dreamstime)

Chan Chan Ruins, Trujillo (Dreamstime)

Discover a region rich in history, archeology and breathtaking scenery on this in-depth journey through the north of Peru with TravelLocal. 

The north remains largely untouched by mainstream tourism, so you’ll get to experience its wonders in relative solitude. Hike to the spectacular Gocta Waterfall, lost in your own thoughts. Wander the Kuelap archaeological complex, hearing only your own footsteps. And ride through the Sun and Moon temples, Chan Chan Citadel and Huanchaco on the back of a horse, with only the local guanaco for company.

Trip: Wonders of the North

Who: TravelLocal

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: £3,020 (

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