- Trekking in the Sacred Valley: The most famous trek outside Cusco is, of course, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But if you're not up to 4 strenuous days with a group along a highly structured trail, there are plenty of additional hiking options in the Sacred Valley. Other trails are much less crowded and share some of the same extraordinary scenery. Ollantaytambo and Yucay are the best bases for walks in the pretty countryside of the Urubamba Valley. The trek from the Inca site Moray to the Salineras salt mines is particularly stunning.
- Running Big-Time White Water: Just beyond Cusco in the Urubamba Valley are some excellent river runs, ranging from mild to world-class. Novices can do 1-day trips to get a taste of this thrilling sport, while more experienced rafters can take multiday trips and even hard-core rafting journeys along the Tambopata River in the Amazon jungle. The area around Arequipa and the Colca Canyon in southern Peru is even better for rafting. The easiest and most convenient runs from Arequipa are on the Río Chili. More advanced rafting, ranging up to Class VI, beckons on the Río Majes, Río Colca, and Río Cotahuasi.
- Exploring Colca Canyon: Perhaps second only to the Callejón de Huaylas Valley in northern Peru for quality independent hiking is Colca Canyon. One of the most celebrated hikes is the descent into the canyon itself, from the Cruz del Cóndor lookout. There are others that are even longer and more demanding, but more accessible hikes are also possible; walking from one village to another, or bicycling around the valley should satisfy most peoples' outdoors urges. Excursions on horseback throughout the valley and into the canyon are also possible. Hard-core sports enthusiasts might take on remote Cotahuasi Canyon, deeper and more rugged even than Colca.
- Mountain & Volcano Climbing Near Arequipa: For mountaineers (and fit, adventurous travelers), the volcanoes just beyond Arequipa are perfect for some of Peru's best ascents. Several don't demand technical skills. Towering El Misti, which forms part of the Arequipa skyline, is an extremely popular climb, and the city's other major volcano, Chachani, also presents an accessible ascent. Peaks in the Colca Valley are great for serious climbers; these include the Ampato Volcano and Coropuna, which, at more than 6,425m (21,079 ft.), is perhaps the most stunning mountain in the Cotahuasi Valley and is for specialists only.
- Spotting Birds & Wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon: Peru's Amazon rainforest is some of the most biologically diverse on the planet. The southeastern jungle and its two principal protected areas, the Tambopata National Reserve and the Manu Biosphere Reserve, are terrific for viewing wildlife and more than 1,000 species of birds. One of the great birding spectacles is the sight of thousands of macaws and parrots feeding at a clay lick. Keep your eyes peeled for more elusive wildlife, such as caimans, river otters, and even jaguars and tapirs.
- Surfing the Waves of Peru's Pacific Coast: Brazil might be more popularly known as a surfing destination, but wave connoisseurs dig Peru, with 2,000km (1,200 miles) of Pacific coastline and a great variety of left and right reef breaks, point breaks, and big-time waves. Beaches are mostly uncrowded, but the water is cold, and most surfers wear wet suits year-round. More than two dozen beaches attract surfistas. Northern Peru, best from October to March, is the top choice of most, and surfers hang out in the easygoing fishing villages of Huanchaco and Máncora; the biggest and best waves in Peru are found at Puerto Chicama, Lobitos, Cabo Blanco, and Los Órganos. Though it can't compete with the north, the best beaches in southern Peru, where surfing is best from April to December, are Punta Hermosa, Punta Rocas, Cerro Azul, and Pico Alto.
- Trekking & Climbing in the Cordillera Blanca: The Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain chain in the world, is almost wholly contained in the protected Huascarán National Park. For walkers and mountaineers, the scenery of snowcapped peaks, glaciers, lakes, and rivers is unrivaled in Peru. Fifty summits soar between 4,800 and 6,662m (15,748-21,857 ft.) high, so naturally, expert mountaineers are drawn to the Cordillera, but trekking and climbing opportunities abound for less-experienced outdoors types. The classic trek is the 4- to 5-day Santa Cruz-Llanganuco route, one of the most beautiful in South America.
- Mountain Biking in the Callejón de Huaylas: Mountain biking is developing some legs in Peru. The top spot is the valley near the Cordillera Blanca, the pristine mountain range in central Peru. Hundreds of mountain and valley horse trails lace lush fields and push past picturesque Andean villages and alpine lakes. Hard-core peddlers can test their lung capacity climbing to 5,000m (16,400-ft.) mountain passes. For cycling camaraderie, check out the Semana del Andinismo in Huaraz, which features a mountain-bike competition.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.