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Exploring the Lesser-Known Destinations: Peru Beyond Lima and Cusco


| 5 mins read

“A prophet once said, ‘Don’t tell me what a man says; don’t tell me what a man knows. Tell me where he’s travelled?’ I wonder about that: do we get smarter and more enlightened as we travel? Does travel bring wisdom? I think there is probably no better place to find out than Peru.”

~ Anthony Bourdain

From mountains and beaches to deserts and rainforests, Peru is a land of contrasting landscapes. Because of its rich natural wonders, a history of ancient civilisations, and one of the Seven Wonders of the New World (Machu Picchu), which alone attracts a million tourists per year, Peru has often found its place amongst traveller's top choices. However, while Machu Picchu and the bustling cities of Lima and Cusco garner all the attention, the country has a myriad of ancient treasures and experiences that go unnoticed. Here are some of the hidden gems of Peru that you must explore on your next visit. 


Located on the northern coast of Peru, Trujillo could never get its much-deserved recognition. It is home to the ancient city of Chan Chan, which used to be the heart of the Chimu civilisation and was also the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas. Today, the ruins of this UNESCO World Heritage site, with their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards, have been of keen interest to history buffs. Additionally, the city also has extensive colonial-styled architecture, such as the Trujillo Cathedral, Freedom Monument and the traditional square (Plazuela El Recreo), with Plaza de Armas being the centre of attraction.

Interestingly, as per legend, Trujillo was favoured by the Rainbow God, and so it is said that the city receives perennial sunshine, hence the nickname- "City of Eternal Spring". No matter which time of the year you visit, your visit is sure to be enhanced by a pleasant climate. 

Main Square, Trujillo


For those who have seen Machu Picchu, another great alternative is the Kuelap Fortress in Chachapoyas. Situated in the Chachapoyas city, the Kuelap Fortress dates back to the pre-Incan civilisation of the Chachapoyas, famously known as the "Cloud Warriors." Legend has it that these people were so skilled that they could disappear into thin air behind the clouds! In history, they are especially known for their unique mummification practices (burials on the cliffside) and fierce resistance against the Incas.

Apart from Kuelap, one can see the Sarcophagi of Karajía (the burial statues of the Chachapoyas people), the mummies in the Leymebamba Museum, which were recovered from the nearby lake of the Condors and the nearby Mausoleum of Revash. Moreover, one of the best experiences to have is trekking to one of the world's highest waterfalls, Gocta Waterfall. The trek offers a picturesque trail through the cloud forests. 

Gocta Waterfall

Huacachina Oasis

For adventure seekers, the Huacachina Oasis can serve as a perfect mirage, with its beautiful desert oasis surrounded by palm trees and buildings. Here, you can try activities like sandboarding or a thrilling dune buggy ride. Moreover, the nearby Nazca Lines make the place all the more attractive. The Nazca Lines comprises about 300 geometric figures, biomorphs of animals and birds and straight lines, all adding up to the mystic charm! Stretching across the Pampa Colorada, these lines are a testament to the skilled prowess and imagination of the ancient civilisations. To date, no legitimate explanation could be found behind these lines. While some believe they could have religious significance or could be related to astrology, local legends associate them with the Gods. 

Want to get an affordable flight over the Nazca lines? Get in touch with a tourHQ local guide. 

Nazca Lines


The city was originally named Huamanga; however, to mark the victory and honour the martyrs lost in the last battle against the Spanish army, the city was renamed Ayacucho, meaning the "corner of the dead" in Quechua. 

Apart from its main cathedral in Plaza de Armas and colonial mansions, the city is known for its 33 beautiful churches, each resembling each year of Lord Jesus' life. One can actually spend a full day spotting these 33 churches across the city. Moreover, you can also visit the nearby Wari archaeological site of an ancient pre-Inca civilisation. The Wari people were considered the master urban planners, setting the stage for the later Inca Empire. 

Wari Archaeological Complex


Another hidden gem in Peru is the charming, quaint city of Lambayeque. A  must-visit site here is the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum. The Sipan Museum is sometimes compared with the treasure of Egypt's Tutankhamun, as the museum holds the lavish treasures of gold, silver and precious gemstones of Lord Sipan. Additionally, the Bruning National Archaeological Museum houses an impressive array of artifacts of advanced metallurgy and pottery, displaying the artistic prowess of the ancient civilisations. For history buffs, another experience is the guided tour to the nearby site of Túcume (the Valley of the Pyramids), with its 26 adobe pyramids and mounds. 

Do you know? Once upon a time, it was said that the city was ruled by the Lord of Sipan, a divine ruler. So when he died, a priest, a guard, two women and animals were also buried with him to serve him in his afterlife!

Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum