Why Everyone Should Go to Peru…

…and the amazing and unexpected things you can see there.

The majority of people have a very Macchu Picchu-centric mindset about what you can do in Peru. Before I went, I’ll be honest, that’s one of the only things I could conjure up in my head. As soon as I arrived, though, the group I was traveling with attended a lecture about the country and suddenly I was fascinated. Peru is the most ecologically diverse country on the climate, containing 84 of the 103 ecosystems and 28 of the 32 climates found on Earth. If you think about it, those numbers alone are remarkable. The variety of amazing things you can do and see in Peru is even more astounding. Here are just some of things I did, that you may never imagine could be seen in this underappreciated South American country.

1. View ancient ruins in the center of Lima (and take in cloudy but beautiful weather, drive along the ocean, and visit a high quality mall propped into a cliff)

2.Take a boat into the depths of the rainforest. (and cruise past other tiny boats loaded up with bananas or people)

3. Witness unexpected and expected rainforest wildlife (parrots, insects and monkeys of course, but also bats, caiman, tiny deer and countless other possibilities)

4. Kayak or motorboat on the many rivers and smaller lakes that wind through the Amazon Rainforest

5. Visit a operating fruit farm nestled in the rainforest and taste the exotic, fresh fruits growing on every plant.

6. Visit the Sacred Valley. Please, just do it. You’ll experience panoramic views no matter where you are (and drive past countless fields of grazing sheep, cows, goats and llamas)

7. Explore tiny valley communities. Interact with the locals. Try bizarre foods (guinea pig, for instance, is very popular). Shop in tiny stores full of handmade items.

8. Buy something made of llama or alpaca hair. (a sweater or socks or a scarf. Or all of the above.) You won’t regret it.

9. Go to Cusco and walk around the bigger and smaller plazas scattered through the city. Most are equipped with beautiful sculptures or fountains, and surrounded by stores and restaurants. All are perfect for people watching.

10. Walk slowly through the Sacsayhuaman complex, made of massive stones places closely together to form huge walls. Learn about the history of the region in a place that has been around through all of it.

11. Visit Paracas, on the coast of the country. Play in the ocean, find ancient fossils in the sand, walk to cliff overlooks and watch the waves.

12. Take a tour and, weather permitting, look for sea life such as whales, seals and even penguins.

13. If you’re able, ride in large buggies on a rollercoaster-like ride through the dunes. Stop for photos or even to go sand boarding. (*this was without a doubt the best experience I had in an overall amazing trip*)

These are some of the things I saw and did in Peru. They are just a fraction of the options available to visitors of this spectacular country. By all means find your own adventures. Peru is full of them.

And of course, do save time for Maccchu Picchu. It’s famous for a reason.

I am a sophomore English major at the University of Minnesota.

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