After about 2 weeks of exploring Peru via the ultimate tourist trek going from Lima to Cusco, we’ve finally narrowed down our top 5 photo-worthy destinations that will definitely create some serious wanderlust.
Without further a due, let the countdown begin..
#5 - Huacachina
While we mistakenly went during one of the busiest times of the year (Easter weekend), these amazing sand dunes that surround a surreal oasis are absolutely stunning and usually next to empty. You can hire a dune buggy that will bring you across the dunes and you can even try out some sandboarding, all for a whopping 10$ (for an hour). We do, however, recommend splurging a bit and going for a private tour right before sunset if you’re after the most epic photos. If you happen to be in the area on a new moon, you should definitely consider staying the night here as well, as the stars will absolutely blow you away.
#4 - Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca)
This would have gone higher on the list, except for the fact that for most people it is ABSOLUTELY PACKED and nearly impossible to get a good photo without hundreds of people either getting in the way, rushing you to move on, waiting in line, or having to take other people’s photos for them. We were lucky enough to get to Rainbow Mountain FIRST with Flashpacker Connect, check out our blog post on how to do the same here. We highly recommend doing it this way, otherwise it’s a very long hike with very big crowds.
#3 - Machu Picchu
The ultimate peru icon, and one of the few places I’ve visited that truly lives up to the hype. To get the best shot here, I’d recommend actually going on your own! Grab a train up to Aguas Calientes and stay a couple of nights, giving yourself more than one chance to see the mountain. The weather in this area changes quite rapidly, and if you find yourself there in shoulder season, there’s a big chance you’ll have a day so misty you can’t actually see anything (even though the days before and after were all beautiful). We were lucky enough to have good weather on the first day, but know of a few people that were there around the same time who only had one day to see it and didn’t get to. Another tip is unlike most places that get busier as the day goes on, the busiest time of day on Machu Picchu is actually the morning! Many people aim to hike there for sunrise, and most tours do it in the morning, so if you find yourself there around noon or later, you’ll see it starting to clear up (no tripods are allowed, and there are no restaurants so if you’re planning on staying up there for a few hours be sure to bring enough water and food to last you. There’s also a few veggie loving llamas up there, so keep that in mind too!) If you don’t feel comfortable booking everything by yourself, there are some companies that do offer later tours, like Exploor Peru.
#2 - Alternate Rainbow Mountain (Palccoyo)
A hidden gem in Peru (who knew that was possible!) Only discovered in 2017, this alternate rainbow mountain is a much easier hike than its popular big brother, and has wayyyyyy less people. We literally were the only group there when we went with Exploor Peru. They also have an adorable alpaca accompany you along the walk. Check out the video below to see just how empty it was during the middle of the day! **disclaimer: drones are not usually allowed here, we were granted special permission as part of a project**
#1 - Laguna Humantay **winner**
This place absolutely took my breath away. I honestly didn’t want to leave, and no matter what angle you photographed it, it looks absolutely GORGEOUS. This is another one where you have to get up a little early to beat the crowds (we overestimated this one, but luckily had a full 1.5 hours at the top by ourselves before anyone else got there). We went as a day trip from Cusco with Exploor Peru, and our guide showed us a unique vantage point! Once you arrive at the top, go to the left and up the rocks a bit, and you’ll end up where we were!
While we didn’t get to see all of Peru, from what we did see these spots were definitely our favorite! We’d love to hear and see about your experiences, feel free to leave a comment here or message us on Instagram @simplysantos and @tomstrickland
For a full list of what’s in our camera bag and how we captured these moments, check out our Gear Page here.
A special thanks to Exploor Peru, Flashpacker Connect, and PeruRail for complimentary tours and transportation. All photos, opinions, and suggestions are our own.