If there is one question or topic that I get asked about more than anything else, it is people asking me what my favorite place in the world is, or what is the main destination I think they should visit. My answer is pretty much always the same place. There are so many destinations around the world that I love and find rewarding and interesting, and truly, whatever destination you desire depends on what you are in the mood for at any given time. However, all of that being said, I always tell people that they should visit Peru now.
Peru has so much to offer, but there is a specific reason to visit it right now. Arguably and without question, Peru’s main attraction and tourist draw, is Machu Picchu. I have been going to Machu Picchu for the last 17 years, ever since we started Zoom vacations, and I have seen it evolve, or perhaps better said, devolve over the years little by little.
More than any other destination, archaeological site, or world wonder, what I have noticed about Machu Picchu, is that every time I go back, there is less and less of the site that is accessible to tourists, and there are more and more regulations in place. It is absolutely a destination that the longer you wait to experience it, it is not going to be quite as accessible, impactful or enjoyable. That being said, Machu Picchu is always going to be a destination to enjoy (just maybe not quite as much as the years pass by). It is stunningly beautiful and has an incredible spiritual quality. There is as little or as much of an athletic component involved in visiting the site, because you can either simply go there and appreciate its awe-inspiring majesty and beauty from the entry point, or you can take the circuit trail which climbs to different locations within Machu Picchu.
You are always going to have a lot of tourists at archeological sites around the world, and especially here, but I do have a tip to get around that somewhat. For starters, you can take the longer hike to Sun Gate, where there are less tourists, and from Sun Gate, which is the entrance point from the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you can see all of Machu Picchu in its glory in front of you. It is a spectacular place to get photos.
The other thing you can do, and you need to schedule and reserve your entrance ahead of time, is take the hike up to Huayna Picchu. This is definitely something that requires a decent level of physical fitness, and a lack of a fear of heights. However, when you hike up to Huayna Picchu, there are hardly any other tourists, and you really get to explore what the main site of Machu Picchu was like a decade ago, in terms of tourist footprint.
In addition to the site being so spectacular, there are also really great hotels and restaurants right there, so your stay in the area can be as luxurious and pampering as you want.
Of course, you’re not going to go to Peru and only go to Machu Picchu. Whenever we bring our Zoom Vacations travelers to Peru, they are always amazed at how much they love Lima: its culinary seen, its art and culture, its beautiful parks and fountains, its history, and of course its beautiful hotels. Lima has more options than you would ever imagine
From Lima, you will need to fly to Cuzco, Peru. Cusco was the heart of the Inca empire, and is one of the most beautiful, charming colonial towns you will ever see. It also has spectacular hotels, incredible restaurants, spectacular ruins, and so much history. You need at least two nights, if not three in Cusco.
And then of course there is the Sacred Valley of the Incas, located midway between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, where you can see the early Inca way of life, and see many original forts, terraces, and structures from the early days of the Inca empire. My favorite is Ollantaytambo which was one of the few sites where the Incas actually won a battle against the Conquistadors.
In the valley, you can also learn about how the ancient people cultivated various types of corn, potatoes, and more. You can interact with adorable alpacas, and you can learn even more about the ancient mysticism which is really fascinating.
So definitely come to Peru so that you can experience Machu Picchu now, and just know that once you are in this wonderful country there is so much to see and do to round out your stay, and in as minimal or as luxurious a way as you would want. The time is now.