When visiting Peru most people put Machu Picchu on their list and then miss out on many of the other things to do in Peru. Machu Picchu is definitely somewhere everyone should visit as this sacred site is an inspiring and beautiful place, an architectural wonder, and a great testament to Incan Civilization. Peru has so much to offer from other sacred Inca sites and small villages to partaking in a spiritual practice with trained medicine men. Here are five things to do in Peru (that aren’t Machu Picchu).
Located high in the windswept plains, Chinchero is a small village that overlooks the Sacred Valley and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. This town specializes in beautiful traditional weaving and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet the village elders and other residents. This place will give you a true insight into Peru’s lesser-known side. You can learn from the local people and support them by purchasing some gifts to take back home with you. This is the hometown of our Peru journey tour leader, Puma Quispe Singona, and on our sacred pilgrimage to Peru, you will have the honour of participating in a Despacho Ceremony with Puma and a local Chinchero Master to make offerings and express our gratitude, love, and respect for Pachamama and the Apus.
Quillarumiyoc is an Incan archaeological site (Temple of the moon) containing walls, buildings, fountains, and its centrepiece, the Moonstone. A limestone boulder with a base relief of the moon is found only here. At Quillarumiyoc, several ancient Inca trails are in excellent walking condition. When visiting here be sure to visit the caves where the Incas carved and captured their representative knowledge of the ancestral spiritual ideology. While here you can see the temple of the Quillarumiyoc water priest and a mini waterfall where you can partake in a cleansing ritual and help to put the mind into a state of relaxation. The Quillarumiyoc Moon Temple is shaped like a crescent, containing the staggering sign of three levels representing the Inca trilogy. It is oriented towards the dawn to observe the solar projections, functioning as an astronomical and spiritual calendar by emanating feminine energy.
Partake in a Spiritual Ceremony
Peru has a deeply spiritual history and culture and while you are visiting, you can partake in one of these culturally significant ceremonies and rituals. This can include working with the sacred plant medicine of San Pedro (Wachuma). It is essential if you are to partake in these ceremonies and rituals that you do so with a trained, local, medicine man. This will ensure that you can fully experience this sacred practice and are respectful of the local culture. We will also be led through a ceremony at Aramu Muru’s Doorway to honour our own personal growth and transformation and our own rebirth and crossing into our new life.
A favourite resting place of the Incas, Tambomachay, commonly referred to as “Baños del Inca” or “Baños de la Ñusta” (Baths of the Incas or Baths of the Princess) is a site that was once used by the Incas for ritual bathing. It is believed to be a temple dedicated to the worship of water. On our journey with Puma, we will partake in a private Andean Initiation Ceremony to connect with the ancestral lineages at the Temple of Condor. Here you can visit other sacred temples around the mountain and enjoy a leisurely afternoon enjoying this beautiful, holy site. It is the perfect day trip from Cusco and you can head back there in the evening to reflect on what you’ve learned.
The islands on Lake Titicaca
This sacred lake sits 3800 metres above sea level and is the highest navigable lake in the world. While visiting this lake, embark on a boat journey across to the artificial islands that are home to the Uros people. These islands are made of Tortora reeds once used as a mobile defence system, the islands now attract visitors from all over and offer an opportunity to learn about ancient practices and traditions and a chance to admire the simple way of life of the people. From here you can visit Amantaní, a circular island about 9 square km in size, known as the “Island of the Kantuta”, after the national flower which grows plentifully here. The island is home to two mountain peaks, Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), and contains ancient Inca and Tiwanaku ruins on top of both. Agriculture is a main way of life here evidenced by the terraced hillsides which are planted with wheat, quinoa, potatoes, and other vegetables.
While visiting Machu Picchu can be a wonderful, spiritual experience, and should definitely be on your list, we hope you make time during your trip to do these alternative, lesser-known activities. We think they will help you learn more about the country, the people and yourself. If you have always dreamed of visiting Peru and want to see Machu Picchu while being guided by a knowledgeable local and partaking in authentic, life-changing ceremonies we would love for you to join us on our next journey to Peru with Puma Quispe Singona.