By Shannon Valdes Leiderman
With mesmerizing scenery and a rich history, Peru is the adventurous traveler’s dream. Follow this ecotourism guide to Peru and discover unspoiled corners of the country while leaving a light footprint.
Best time of year to visit
Plan your Peruvian getaway sometime between October and February, when the rainy season keeps tourists at bay. The country’s lush, green landscape glistens this time of year, but don’t worry–it doesn’t rain all day.
Where to stay
Take your trip to new heights at Skylodge Adventure Suites. This collection of transparent capsules hangs from a rugged mountain in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco. The capsules can only be reached by a 400 meter climb, but adrenaline junkies who make the trek get views of a lifetime.
For a lower-altitude stay, book a cabin at Gocta Natura Reserve, where you are engulfed in the natural beauty of the Amazon.
Is complete cultural immersion what you’re after? Try a Peruvian homestay in the Andes to interact with remote indigenous communities you won’t find on the beaten path.
Where to eat and drink
As the gastronomic capital of Latin America, Lima’s sophisticated restaurant scene is firmly rooted in ecotourism and social responsibility. A meal at Malabar supports a nonprofit that helps indigenous women. La Mar Cebichería traces all fish and seafood back to the exact fisherman who caught it.
Then there’s MIL, a groundbreaking restaurant perched high in the Andes. Literally elevating the farm-to-table concept, the restaurant only uses ingredients found 11,500 feet above sea level.
What to do
While Machu Picchu is undeniably Peru’s greatest allure, the country offers so much more to those with a heart for adventure. A place where extremes exist in harmony, Peru’s lesser-known landscapes are as confounding as they are beautiful.
While we’re calling this our ecotourism guide to Peru, it is definitely just scratching the surface. Translation: we’re pretty sure this won’t be your only visit to Peru.
Explore the world’s highest tropical mountains in Huascarán National Park, where snow capped peaks kiss impossibly blue lakes. Head to the small town of Paracas and visit the Ballestas islands and a desert in the same day.
Peru’s wide range of community-based ecotourism is the perfect opportunity to get a feel for the country’s kaleidoscopic culture. Meet the communities of La Tierra de Los Yachaqs near Cusco who are eager to share their Incan heritage with you. Venture deep into the Amazon to observe blow dart hunting and ceremonial dances from the native Yagua Tribe.
If you do visit Machu Picchu, ditch the well-tracked Inca Trail and opt for an alternative route instead. The Salkantay Route weaves through sacred mountains, reaching an altitude of 15,000 feet before descending into a misty cloud forest. Book your trek with an ecotourism organization like Lokal. This ensures that you are connected with a native guide who respects Peru’s natural and cultural heritage.