Peru offers a multitude of outdoor activities to suit everubody´s interests, abilities, fitness, and wallet. One highlight is a trek, a multiday camping and hiking expedition surrounded by the world´s highest tropical mountains. Others include mountaineering, river rafting, mountain-biking, surfing, or watching wildlife in the Amazon jungle. Huacachina sandboarding is possible through the huge dunes around the south coast. From the hundreds of outfitters and travel agencies that exist, we have selected ones that provide several kinds of services. Many visitors start with the South American Explorers (SAE), based in Lima or Cusco, which has information related to outdoor activities.
Trekking Peru and mountaineering are extremely popular among visitors to Peru, especially during the dry season from May to September. The best base for trekking Peru is Huaraz. Nearby, Cordillera Blanca contains scores of glaciated mountains and is the best-known trekking area. The highloght is Huascaran which at 22,205 ft (6,768 m) is the world´s highest tropical mountain. Which trails crossing passes at up to 16,405 ft (5,000 m) and camping spots commonly around 13,124 ft (4,000 m), these adventures are for fit, acclimatized visitors with good equipment. Both day trips and overnight treks, ranging from three to 12 days, can be arranged. Mountaineers have a choice ranging from the relatively easy Pisco to the symmetrical Alpamayo, or the challenging Artesonraju. All require technical ice- and snow-climbing equipment, which can be rented in Huaraz. The climbing season is from June to August. Some visitors opt to back-pack alone while others hire guides, cooks, or arrieros (donkey drivers).
Cusco, with its tabled Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, is also the center for several other marvelous treks. As the Inca trail is now highly regulated, trekkers need to plan their trips months in advance in order to obtain a permit during the dry season. Other treks are equally georgeous and require less advance notice. The six-day circuit of Ausangate (20,906 ft/6,372 m) with glorious mountain views, huge herds of alpacas, and natural hot springs, is highly recommended. Several treks often end up at Machu Picchu via routes other than the more famous Inca Trail.
The Arequipa area offers some unique adventures. A trek into two of the world´s deepest canyons, the Colca and the Cotahuasi, can be arranged. Both have great scenery, condor-spotting opportunities, and remote villages. Among the best outfitters is Colca trek, run by Vlado, an experiences English-speaking local guide. Another special trekking Peru is the arid Volcán Misti (19,101 ft/5,822 m) which dominates Arequipa´s skyline.
The mountain trails with their jaw-dropping scenery are the perfect getaway for adventure lovers. They provide a stark contrast to the flat desert of the Panamerican Highway. Single track dirt roads crisscross the Andes, and a vehicle or a donkey are required to take you up for a descent of 9,843 ft (3,000m). Rental bikes are quite good, but if you require top-of-the-line wheels, bring your own. Most international airlines allow passengers to carry. In Cusco, a good choice is a one-to-six day trips, some visiting Inca sites, the famous Inca Jungle trek to Machu Picchu, and trek tours in the Sacred Valley.
The rugged high Andean rivers are the best place for white-water kayaking and rafting. Trips range from a few hours to over a week of descending through mountain canyons into the Amazon rainforest and camping in the wilderness. Outfitters can be found in Arequipa and Huaraz, but Cusco has the best selection. Short floats can be done in Class II and Class III rapids on the Río Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, while longer trips descend the Rios Tambopata and Apurímac into the Amazon jungle with rapids reaching Class IV and some very challenging Class V ones. Most are navigated by rafts with experienced guides; kayakers can also join a rafting expedition.
With almost 1,864 miles (3,000km) of Pacific coastline, Peru offers great waves. The far north great waves. The far north has the best and warmest conditions, with sea temperatures around 70° F (21° C) for most of the year. Temperatures at the beaches around Lima drop to as low as 56° F (13° C) in the coldest months of April to December, when wet suits are mandatory.
Lima fronts on to numerous beaches, and surfers are seen through the year in front of the upscale coastal hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls in Miraflores and Costa Verde. To get away from the crowds, local surfers head to Punta Hermosa, about 25 miles (40km) south of Lima, where several good breaks are found and several international competitions are held.
Puerto Chicama, near Trujillo and 380 miles (610 km) north of Lima, has the longest lefts in the world, but the infrastructure is limited to a few basic hostels. May to August are the best months for wave action. Farther north, at 721 miles (1,160 km) north of Lima, the pretty village of Máncora has warmer water, good surfing, and a variety of hotels in all classes.
The waters off Peru are marked with cold currents and steep drop-offs. As a result, the long Pacific Coast does not offer coral reefs, but it has its own attractions for divers. Prime among these is Paracas where divers can swim with sea lions in their natural habitat. The warmest waters are near the Ecuatorian border, where fish are more visible.
A wildlife-watching expedition into the Amazon jungle is an all-time adventure for those visiting Peru. Most visitors to the Amazon jungle will see sloths, monkeys, parrots, dolphins, piranhas, and a vast array of insects and plants, depending on the part of the basin they visit.
In the southern rainforests, riverside cliffs of saltladen mud attract macaws and parrots intent on feeding on the minerals. Soon after dawn, large flocks of the colorful birds arrive to squabble and squawk over a particular area -a sight which delights bird- watchers and photographers alike. On a longer trip into remoter areas of the rainforest, glimses of jaguars or tapirs are feasible. A good look at capybaras, anteaters, armadillos, giant river otters, and peccaries is possible as well.
Wildlife-watching is not the only highlight of the rainforest. The sound of the jungle, from the dawn bird chorus to the nightime frog, toad, and insect concertos, are hauntingly beautiful. Also, visiting an Indian village or climbing into the canopy are unforettable experiences that visitors cherish for a lifetime. From Iquitos, visitors can take a cruise of several days on a small ship featuring private, air-conditioned cabins and a naturalist guide. Budget travelers can ride as hammock passengers in cargo boats leaving regularly from the major ports of Iquitos, Pucallpa or Yurimaguas. Camping in the Amazon jungle is very popular in the Manu area.
Adrenaline-pumping aerial adventures such as hang gliding and hot-air ballooning are recent additions to the Peruvian sports scene. Professional as well as amateur pilots glide by the Larcomar Mall in Lima, around the Paracas Peninsula, and in the Sacred Valley area near Cusco.
Peru is famous for its paso horses, which have been bred for 400 years to produce the smoothest gait in the world. Several trekking companies also offer riding , but not always on paso horses offered cheaply are poorly looked after.
The unusual sport of sandboarding is a cross between snowboarding and surfing with huge sand dune thrown in. It is a popular pastime as the sand never to wait for the perfect wave. Sandboarding is possible at any time, in any season, which makes it appealing for Peruvians.
In the 1980s, the Huacachina sandboarding was the most famous. During earlier days, boards looked like short surfboards, candles were used as wax, and riders sat or lay on the boards as they rode down the sand dunes encircling the Huacachina lake. Extreme boarders use equipment looking more like snowboards, with foot bindings allowing a controlled ride. More than 40 countries now boast boardable dunes, and sand-boarding competitions are held for international experts who ride, jump, spin, somersault, and flip their way down the dunes. Today Huacachina sandboarding, Trujillo and even in the environs of Lima, are attracting boarders.