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Off The Beaten Path Travel in Peru: A Complete Guide

Many travelers dream of their next destination, sometimes for months or even years, before finally making a move and realizing their trip. While making their plans, all of them have probably pictured themselves sitting alone on the beach, on top of a mountain, or in a field, thinking about life and enjoying the beautiful landscape and tranquility. 

Maybe, their better half is sitting next to them, and their kids are having fun while playing in nature, but no outsider disturbs their idyllic experience – they are able to truly connect to the place they’re visiting. 

When reading this, some of you might already be skeptical, thinking about how tricky it can be to achieve such a flawless situation. Many people have traveled to a country before, dreaming about the described situation, just to realize on arrival: “I am not the only one passionate about visiting this place”. Packed main squares, tour buses, and over-visited famous attractions: we have all seen it. 

While sharing certain places with other travelers is not the worst thing that could happen to you (sometimes beautiful friendships are created on holidays), we can’t help longing for less-visited areas, where we can better connect to nature or the local people. 

If you struggle to share beautiful places with too many other tourists, we have the solution to your problem: off the beaten path tourism. As you can tell from the name, the essence of this type of traveling is getting to more remote, and less visited areas of a country. 

Luckily, Peru is a great destination to try your luck with it! Even though places like Machu Picchu or the Rainbow Mountains are highly visited, of course, you can easily find unknown hidden gems in Peru. 

If you want us to prove how much potential Peru has when it comes to leaving the main itinerary, feel free to have a look at our Off The Beaten Path Tours

Of course, we won’t blame you at all for not wanting to miss out on any of Peru’s famed highlights. They are indeed incredible and many of them deserve the attention they get. In our Hiking Tours, for example, you can find alternative routes that take you to the one and only Machu Picchu.

And if you’re the kind of traveler who likes to mix time in nature with time spent in the cities, you might want to browse through our Culinary Tours or our City Tours — Peru’s urban hubs have a lot to offer! 

So, if you’re up for something new and exciting, stay with us and read on as we explain to you what off the beaten path travel means to us. We will give you some examples of tours that we love on the way, so you don’t run out of inspiration.

Sahuasiray Lares

What is Off the Beaten Path Travel?

In most countries, tourism is concentrated in only a few areas, where the most well-known tourist attractions are located. In Peru, people tend to talk about the gringo trail, which passes by these areas, namely Lima, Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco. 

Many of the sites along this route are indeed beautiful. However, some of them we would categorize as Irresponsible Destinations in Peru, which we recommend you avoid. 

On top of that, we believe that many less-known sites merit a lot more attention than they currently receive, and this is exactly what we try to achieve with our off the beaten path tours. 

To help you better understand this concept, which you might not have tried out so far, we have determined four main characteristics describing off-the-beaten-path tourism: 1. Surprises and Discoveries; 2. Generating positive impacts for remote communities; 3. Meeting open-minded locals; 4. Experiencing untouched nature.

Are you feeling innovative and excited to try out this type of travel? In that case, continue reading to see what we have to say about the four characteristics mentioned above.

As promised before, inspiration about different tours you might be interested in will also be given. 
Of course, every traveler is different, and it might be that you need some more ideas than the ones mentioned here.

Should that be the case, we invite you to have a look at our Peru Trip Planner & Custom Itineraries section. Here, our dedicated travel designers can help you craft your own personalized itinerary.

The mighty Manu River

Surprises and Discoveries

One of the main aspects that strongly differentiates off the beaten path tours from conventional tourism, is their ability to surprise you. In very well-known places, which are widely seen in advertisements and recognizable by other travelers, you tend to know exactly what awaits you. 

You have seen the picture of Machu Picchu so many times before that you can’t believe your eyes when you finally stand there yourself, seeing that exact picture in real life. Of course, fulfilling such a dream makes you immensely happy, and we don’t want to deny that. 

But the beauty about less well-known sites is that you don’t necessarily know every detail about them before arriving there. Not everybody talks about them all the time, and information might be less accessible. It’s precisely these circumstances that make the experience so great! 

Going on the trip will feel a lot more adventurous. What will the landscapes be like? Will there be communities around? Might I see some interesting animals?

All of these questions, and many more, will be swirling around in your head. And it is up to you to find the answers to them, as you go on a real mission of discovery. 

One of the greatest ways of embarking on such an adventure into the unknown in Peru is by Searching for the Lost Kingdom of the Chachapoya. Chachapoyas is a city located in the north of Peru, far above Huaraz and even Trujillo. 

However, in the context of the tour that we offer you in this region, we refer not to the city but to the ancient culture of the Chachapoya people. 

You might not have heard of this civilization, as talk of the great Incan empire generally takes center stage. But the Chachapoyas actually built up their very own fascinating culture. They even constructed a mighty fortress called Kuelap, which you can still explore today. 

Getting to this far-away region takes time and even a bit of commitment, which is why most people don’t make it there. If you do, though, decide to go on this adventure, you will be richly rewarded with beautiful landscapes with few tourists, and a real feeling of discovery. 

If you don’t want to be in the dark completely about what awaits you here, you can find out more about Chachapoyas in our Travel Guide to Chachapoyas in Northern Peru, as well as our article Chachapoyas, the muse of the north.

Generating positive impact for remote communities in Peru

At RESPONS, we care a lot about the Peruvian communities and try to integrate them into tourism, thus improving their living conditions and fostering cultural exchange. 

While building up projects with communities around tourist hotspots is a comparably easy task, it is more challenging to reach communities living further away from these tourist hubs. Due to this situation, the positive impact tends to be relatively concentrated in specific areas of the country.

Off the beaten path tourism is a great tool to tackle this problem. It allows us to take people to communities that are not usually visited and therefore excluded from the benefits linked to tourism.

If you like the idea of getting to know such remote communities and supporting them with your visit, the Magical Desert Tour should intrigue you. 

Unsurprisingly, this experience is a real jewel when it comes to astonishing landscapes and tranquility. It takes you from towering sand dunes over the sea and then to Nazca, where you will visit interesting archaeological sites. 

But against all expectations, it also gives you the opportunity to visit local communities living in the desert and to learn about their daily lives in this unusual landscape.

Local Woman Lares

Meeting open-minded locals

Depending on where you have traveled before, you might have experienced staged authenticity in highly visited places. Being exposed to a lot of tourism can cause local people to see reality with different eyes. 

They understandably start to focus on the economic opportunity created by the number of visitors and want to benefit from it.

Consequently, even though margins tend to be small for them, they adapt to the necessities of conventional tour agencies and mass tourism. This, in turn, can lead to traditions and customs being somewhat neglected. 

In Peru, examples of staged authenticity exist, as well. On many of the floating islands in Puno, you can observe this phenomenon. Luckily, we know some counterexamples, where tourism is more scarce and people have preserved more of their traditional culture. 

Again, we invite you to read our article about Irresponsible Destinations in Peru to learn more about this subject.

While less-visited destinations are far from staged authenticity, the communities living there can be incredibly (and authentically) curious about who you are, where you come from, and your experience in Peru. 

As they don’t see or work with huge amounts of tourists every day, meeting you will have a different meaning for them. This, in turn, will make it easier for you to connect with the local people and share precious moments. 

To get to know such a community and have this incredible experience, we suggest you go on our tour to meet the Hosts of the Great Inca Trail, the Qhapaq Ñan, on Lake Titicaca.

On this extraordinary tour, you will spend time with the inhabitants of Lake Titicaca and participate in beautiful traditional ceremonies. No sign of staged tourism in this experience!

Experiencing untouched nature in Peru

It is probably clear by now that off the beaten path travel is closely linked to lower numbers of tourists in the visited destination. This, in turn, often goes hand in hand with amenities and infrastructures facilitating tourism being less developed. Think, for example, of roads being less well maintained or having fewer restaurants around. 

In certain cases, these circumstances can transform a visit into a real challenge. However, if you book with RESPONSible Travel Peru and decide to venture off with us, you will have everything arranged for your travels and will be rewarded with one thing for sure: some of the most pristine and untouched landscapes. 

Again, we want to refer to our Searching for the Lost Kingdom of the Chachapoyas tour, but we can also recommend any of our Manu Tours. These tours take you to places that many people visiting Peru will never reach. 

Another great and unforgettable experience in this extraordinary destination is going on A Different Kind of Road Trip through Southern Peru. Traveling by car is uncommon here, compared to other countries where it is the main way of getting around. 

But for the most adventurous people who have contacted us, not being able to abandon their precious dream of discovering Peru by car, we have crafted a road trip, that is absolutely feasible, safe, and enjoyable. 

And unsurprisingly, this experience will reward you not only with unforgettable meetings with the local people but also with landscapes like nowhere else.

What makes a responsible adventure unique? 

How often do we say that we have visited a country while we have only seen a fraction of it in reality? In most cases, we have been to the widely held highlights of the destinations, the attractions that are constantly shown and praised on social media and in travel stories. 

But what really allows us to get to know a country and all of its particularities and customs is wandering off the fixed itineraries and entering the unknown. 

However, the best thing about it is not even the adventure that awaits you when daring to discover new places, it is the positive impact that it generates. 

So many local people, not only in Peru but also in many other tourist destinations globally, barely have direct contact with tourists. They don’t benefit from the sector at all and their country’s tourist hubs almost start to lose their identity among all the visitors. 

Off the beaten path tourism helps us tackle this problem and distribute positive outcomes from tourism in a more balanced way over the whole country. 

That is what we are committed to at RESPONSible Travel Peru. And not to forget, this does not only help local communities, it also protects our planet’s nature by avoiding overtourism in fragile ecosystems, something that causes more damage than many appreciate. 

At RESPONS, a long journey awaits us before we’ll reach our set goals. However, we are proud to be among the pioneers, spreading tourism to the most remote areas of Peru.

If you have any questions about this guide or our tours, please get in touch.

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ABOUT RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL PERU

RESPONS’ mission is to improve living conditions in Peru through developing and promoting sustainable tourism. We’ve implemented a business model in which all areas of human relations are respected, and - equally important - respect for the planet is incorporated.

Following this business model, we practice fair trade, foster cultural identity, promote equal opportunities, and we preserve the environment that surrounds us and other species.

Together with you we improve, day by day, on the always-demanding path towards sustainability.

Tours in Peru

The blue hour at Arequipa city center makes of the urban scene the most beautiful view - RESPONSible Travel Peru

Arequipa Walking Tour

Cordillera Blanca Trek – Vicos to Ishinca

Ceviche served in wine glass - RESPONSible Travel Peru

Typical Peruvian Food Tour in Artsy Barranco

Photography in the streets of Ollantaytambo

Three llamas and hikers among cropfields in the Sacred Valley of Cusco

Inca Road to Huchuy Qosqo with Llamas

Llamas grouped next to hut in beautiful mountain location

Authentic Valley Experience with Llamas and Pachamanca

Hot springs are channeled to man-made pools in Aguas Calientes Lodge, Shituya, Manu | Responsible Travel Peru

Manu Community and Wildlife Experience

Lake Morón in the desert by Ica is a true hidden gem and makes for a wonderful hike through the desert - RESPONSible Travel Peru

Quick magical desert experience