Few places pack the kind of outdoor bounty and natural beauty into their borders the way Peru does. This itinerary is designed for high-octane thrill-seekers, to take in some of Peru’s most scenic natural areas as well as give a taste of some unusual ways to tackle the outdoors. For a pure adrenaline rush, it’s hard to beat incredible Andean treks, white-water rafting, mountain biking past ancient ruins, and board surfing on towering sand dunes.
Day 1: South of Lima
Spend your first day in the country just south of Lima. Make your way to Punta Hermosa, one of the most reliable surf spots on Peru’s central coast. Either rent a board or take a lesson with a local pro in the chilly waters. After a lunch of ceviche at one of the no-frills beach shacks, join a bike tour of Pachacamac in the valley of the Lurín River, a place of organic farms and a sizable pyramid complex that dates back more than 1,000 years. You can either return to Lima that night or camp down in a small hotel in the area.
Days 2 & 3: Paracas
Spend the following morning driving south to Paracas, several hours south of Lima, camping down in a coastal resort on the waterfront. In the afternoons when the winds pick up, this sheltered bay becomes a hotspot for wind or kitesurfing, and most hotels can provide equipment or give lessons. In the morning when the wind is calmer, you can kayak in the bay, keeping your eyes open for the occasional dolphin or sea lion.
Days 4 & 5: Huacachina
Check into a small hotel near the oasis of Huacachina outside of Ica. Rent a sandboard from one of the shops around the lagoon or join a dune buggy tour through the dunes for the rest of the day. Early the next morning, hike up to the top of the dunes to watch the sunrise. For the rest of the day, you can go with a guide to search the desert for fossilized shells and shark teeth, remnants from when the region was covered by the ocean millions of years ago.
Day 6: A Breather in Cusco
Fly back through Lima and on to Cusco. In the afternoon, hike up through the San Blas neighborhood to the grand Sacsayhuamán ruins, one of the Incas’ finest monuments. Take it easy getting acclimatized on what is essentially a rest day.
Days 7–11: Trek to Choquequirao
An alternative to the Inca Trail, embark on this 4-day trek to Choquequirao, spectacular but rarely visited Inca ruins high above the Apurímac River. The route descends to a campsite next to the river, only to climb 1,219 vertical meters (4,000 ft.) the next day. (Choquequirao is just one of several stunning multi-day treks in the Cusco highlands; if you’ve never been to Peru before, you may want to opt for the granddaddy of them all, the Inca Trail, which takes you right to the foot of Machu Picchu.) White-water fanatics might prefer to trade a 4-day rafting trip for the trek to Choquequirao.
Days 12 & 13: The Sacred Valley
After your trek down from Choquequirao, come back to earth in the serene Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here you can do one day’s white-water rafting on the Urubamba River, or if you’d prefer to keep your hiking boots on, do a day hike and walk from the Inca site of Moray down to the Salineras salt mines at Maras (3 hr.).
Day 14: Above the Fray in Lima
Although there’s adventure enough in Lima just dodging murderous traffic, there’s one last opportunity for outdoors adventure before your flight out. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance to catch a thermal current and get up in the air in a paraglider, soaring out over Miraflores and the Costa Verde.
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.