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We hope you know how to say “book now” in Spanish (hint: it’s “reservar ahora”). Because after reading this roundup of the top nine adrenaline-inducing adventures in Peru, you’ll be buying a flight to Lima so fast your credit card will smoke. This South American wonder country serves up desert, jungle, beach, and mountains in equal servings—so whether you’re hoping to kayak across the world’s highest navigable lake or climb through the rainforest canopy at the continent’s most remote jungle lodge, this is the destination for you.
1. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
There’s a reason visiting the Lost City of the Incas sits firmly atop so many adventurer bucket lists. While all Inca roads lead to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail gets you there in the most boast-worthy way possible—four days of hiking through hauntingly beautiful archaeological sites and past stunning panoramas toward an unmatched final destination. Access to this route is strictly controlled, with only 500 permits per day issued to authorized travel companies. Book today and start the StairMaster training…well, yesterday: The 27 miles of stone steps feature knee-crushing descents, brutal altitude, and heart-pounding mountain peaks. (A four-day trek starts at $600, llamapath.com)
2. Paraglide Over Lima
Men’s Fitness recommends getting high responsibly—and Lima is the perfect location to get a fix. Paragliders take off daily from Raimondi Park in the nation’s coastal capital, soaring high enough to survey both surfers and skyscrapers. Flights extend from the modern Miraflores district to Bohemain Barranco and back again, a high-adrenaline introduction to two of the city’s most-buzzed-about districts. For the ultimate brag footage, rent a GoPo to capture your high-altitude sightseeing. (150 soles or $53 USD per flight, GoPro rental from 80 soles or $28 USD with perufly.com)
3. Go Piranha Fishing in the Amazon
They aren’t just the antagonists of third-rate horror films any more. Now, piranhas can be the stars of your Amazon adventure as you hook and reel ‘em in, toothy fish by toothy fish. Piranha fishing is just one of many included excursions onboard The Aria, a sixteen-cabin luxury cruise ship plying the waters of the remote Amazon River. Between outings, you can squeeze in workouts in the ship’s picture-windowed micro-gym, which features the best view you’ll ever have from a treadmill. (Three-day cruises from $3,000, aquaexpeditions.com)
4. SUP in Cusco
The standup paddleboarding craze has officially reached new heights—an altitude of 12,500 feet, to be exact. When Peruvian fitness enthusiast Alvaro Bedoya launched SUP Cusco in Lake Piuray, he created the highest-altitude paddling tours in the world; skydivers regularly make the leap from the same elevation. Today, travelers and athletes alike—including the Peruvian national soccer team—head to the highlands for training programs that blend CrossFit, yoga, and low-impact paddles around the picturesque lake. (Paddling trips from $60 USD, fitness programs from $95 USD with SUP Cusco)
5. Sand Board in Huacachina
Snowboarding? S’no thanks. You’ll be hard-pressed to head back to the original once you try the sand version of one of the world’s top adventure sports. Just four hours south of Lima lies Huacachina, a tiny oasis town in the middle of the Peruvian desert where sandboarding reins supreme. Grab a board and a candlestick—locals use them to add speed to the bottom of their boards—and jump into a Transformer-esque dune buggy for a ride up and around the sweeping dunes. Just remember to buckle your seatbelt—there’s no ski patrol on these slopes. (Two-hour dune buggy and sandboarding trip from 30 soles/$10 USD with Banana’s Adventures)
6. Canopy Climb Through the Tambopata Jungle
At the most remote jungle lodge in South America, travelers can play macaw researcher for a day (and, really, would you want to play a macaw researcher for much longer?) by scaling 115-foot trees with rope, harness, and jumar. Scientists at the Tambopata Research Center perform this canopy climb daily to check the artificial nests of breeding macaws—and now able-bodied adventurers can join in on the bird’s nest fest, too. You can take it easy and enjoy the eye-level view of the surrounding primary rainforest, or hustle and try to beat the guide’s record—a mere 4 minutes and 20 seconds. ($75 as an add-on activity, included in six-day adventure packages from $1,226 with Rainforest Expeditions)
7. Surf in Mancora
Despite the fact that it’s so far north in Peru it’s practically kissing Ecuador, Mancora magnetically draws surfers from around the globe. Rent boards from thatch-roof huts for as little as $10 per day; beachfront accommodation is a steal; and up-and-coming restaurants serve innovative, global cuisine for a fraction of what it would cost to refuel at home. Best, there are no territorial wave wardens here—swells are shared between locals and travelers alike in this friendly, laid-back beach town.
8. Ride an ATV in Paracas
This is the kind of off-roading adventures ATVs were made for. Three-hour tours through the Paracas National Reserve cost a mere $40 through any agency in town. Push your motor to the maximum and take in faint fossils, sweeping beach vistas, and wide-open spaces. The flat and hauntingly expansive desert terrain is perfect for adrenaline-junkie speed demons. And don’t worry about those pesky points on your license—there are no speed limits here.
9. Kayak Through Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and arguably the most beautiful. Too bad typical tours taking in several islands are a total snoozefest. Solution: You can adrenaline pump your high-altitude exploring by traveling under the steam of your own paddle. Two-day kayaking tours take in almost 12.5 miles—nothing to sneer at when you’re at an altitude of 12,500 feet. And there’s no napping here. Trips include hikes around the island upon arrival and an overnight home stay with a local family. (Prices start from $206 USD for a two-day trip, edgaradventrues.com)
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