But as well as these famous destinations, the country has a whole host of other cultural, historical and natural sights that are well worth a visit. Those who choose to ignore the wonders of northern Peru could be missing out on some of the most spectacular sights the country has to offer.
If you’re planning a Peruvian odyssey of your own and want to make sure you see as much of this South American nation as possible, here are some of the most spectacular destinations you can’t afford to overlook.
Chavin de Huantar
According to a recent article by CNN, Chavin de Huantar is one of the five most overlooked treasures in the world. As a result, the sight is considerably less touristy than other, better-known Peruvian landmarks and visitors to Chavin de Huantar are able to get a real feel for one of the most ancient cultures of Peru.
Dating back to 1300BC (though there is evidence the site has been occupied since 4000BC) Chavin de Huantar was the centre of the Chavin civilisation, one of South America’s oldest and most advanced.
Made up of monumental granite pyramids, grand plazas and colossal carved stone staircases, Chavin de Huantar has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its unique architecture and importance to both Peruvian and world history.
The largest pre-Columbian city in South America and the largest mud - or Adobe - city in the world, Chan Chan was built in 850AD as the Imperial capital of the Chimor civilisation.
The ten walled citadels that make up the site once housed ceremonial spaces, burial chambers, temples, reservoirs and residences, many of which can still be seen today.
As well as the scale of the city, one of the most striking things about this UNESCO World Heritage Site are the intricate designs that are carved into the city’s walls. Offering a unique insight into the aesthetic, spiritual and everyday lives of the Chimor people, these carvings are a stunning reminder of a lost civilisation.
Situated on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, the fortress of Kuelap was built by the Chachapoyas, a culture of Andean people that lived high up in the mountains in the Amazonas region of Peru.
Dating back to 600AD, this 600m x 110m site contains over 400 stone buildings, all surrounded by an enormous exterior stone wall.
One of the famous ‘Cloud Fortresses’ built by the civilisation, the site occupies a stunning position at the peak of a mountain. A visit to the fortress is guaranteed to give you a real appreciation for the technical and physical feat it took to build it.
As well as important historical sites, the north of Peru is also home to a wealth of traditional cultures, spectacular mountain and jungle landscapes and thriving modern communities.
And though Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail will always be unmissable attractions, travellers who take the time to visit the wonders of northern Peru will find an authentic, unspoilt and enticing destination that’s just waiting to be discovered.
See these sights of northern Peru for yourself on our Highlights of Northern Peru adventure holiday.