Highlights of wildlife holidays to Peru

In some ways Peru is unique in South America, as its natural wonders and wildlife are often intertwined with the archaeological Incan sites for which it is most associated. Areas such as the Sacred Valley, Colca and Titicaca have incredible scenery in which to hike, raft, walk, or boat and gain an overall appreciation of the stunning Peruvian environment, but there are often Incan settings that hold equal significance and interest that it would be a travesty to overlook. 

The areas can be broadly divided into east and west of the Andes and north and south, with quite different highlights in each.

Highlands and Islands

Most visited in Peru are the highland areas, particularly around the Sacred Valley. Whilst the infamous Machu Picchu is a man-made phenomenon created by the Incan empire, the journey that forms the Inca Trail is one of sheer natural beauty, passing through gorges, plunging valleys and climbing high amongst rangy snow-capped peaks. You will start your incredible journey in an arid cactus zone before rising to high-altitude grass plains, eventually reaching misty cloud forest filled with orchids. The Colca Valley is another region of stark beauty, where a desolate volcanic land with llamas and vicunas grazing on approaching the valley transforms into an area of red-hued cliffs where Andean condors soar the skies, and steep walls plummet 3,500 metres into an abyss below.

Islas Ballestas are said to be the ‘Peruvian Galapagos’ and whilst lacking the variety of wildlife the area is indeed home to a large number of protected wildlife species. Birds such as cormorants, blue-footed boobies, vultures, Humboldt penguins and pelicans all thrive on the islands which have eroded over time to form natural caves and arches that are ideal for seabirds. 

Accessed by boat from Pisco, you may also encounter colonies of sea lions or a school of dolphins on your journey.

The Amazon

The Peruvian Amazon undoubtedly offers the best wildlife opportunities in the country, and the huge rainforest reserve of Tambopata is a beautiful region of oxbow lakes filled with wildlife. Accessed by a 25-min flight from Cusco, contains the Amazon’s top five predators – jaguar, black caiman, giant otter, anaconda and harpy eagle. One of the true highlights of a visit here is the Tambopata macaw clay lick, where thousands of brightly coloured macaws and parrots gather daily to be fed, which is a stunning sight to behold. The Manu wilderness offers tremendous diversity of wildlife, with monkeys, sloths, elusive jaguars, lowland tapirs, giant otters, parrots all within close range of the remote lodges that offer boat and walking safaris to bring you close to these jungle residents. 

Such is the diversity of Manu that it is a recognised World Heritage Site.


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