Highlight Tours in Peru: a Complete Guide

Even though our passion lies more in offering Off the Beaten Path experiences beyond the popular destinations, highlight tours are inevitable. In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of Highlight Tours in Peru, showcasing the must-visit destinations that make this country a bucket-list favorite. You’ll learn about our handpicked recommendations, alternatives to the well-trodden paths, and our curated selection of highlight tours. Most importantly, we’ll share how we’ve woven sustainability into these journeys, ensuring every tour positively impacts the destinations visited and their inhabitants.

In addition to this Guide, we have crafted Travel Style Guides for various types of travelers, such as the Cultural Traveler, the Adventurer, Traveling Families, and the Nature Lover. These comprehensive guides cater to diverse travel preferences, ensuring an enriching and tailored experience for every kind of traveler.

Ready to explore Peru in a way that is both rewarding and responsible? If you have any questions about anything in this guide, please get in touch.

Understanding Highlight Tours in Peru

Peru is typically seen as a once-in-a-lifetime destination. Therefore, highlight tours are often considered a must on the travel itinerary of many visitors to Peru, as they allow travelers to experience the country’s most iconic destinations that they have been dreaming of for so long. Regrettably, these guided tours are frequently overcrowded with less conscientious tourists, which can significantly diminish the quality of your own travel experience.

At Impactful Travel, we take a different approach. We believe that these popular places can still be visited respectfully and mindfully. Our version of highlight tours ensures that you not only experience these memorable sites but also do so in a manner that respects the environment and benefits local communities.

Making a Difference: The Positive Impact of Skipping Popular Tours

As a travel company, we understand that highlight tours are typically best-sellers. However, our primary objective has always been to offer experiences that promote responsible and sustainable travel rather than focusing solely on sales. Therefore, we make it a point never to include tours that would negatively impact a destination. For some locations, we choose not to offer tours at all, as we are committed to not contributing to their degradation.

Highlight Tours in Peru: Perfect for Time-Pressed Travelers

We recognize that many travelers who opt for highlight tours are often pressed for time, wanting to experience as many highlights as possible within a limited timeframe. Considering this, Impactful Travel offers a range of tour durations to cater to this need. We provide quick and regular options for our most popular Highlight Tours, such as those to the Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, and Machu Picchu. This flexibility ensures you don’t miss out on any of the incredible experiences that Impactful Travel (previously known as RESPONSible Travel Peru) has to offer.

Machu Picchu ruins in Peru

The Allure of Peru: Highlight Destinations

Peru, a land of rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes, is home to some of the world’s most treasured destinations. Here, we’ll guide you through the country’s top highlights and give you our perspective on each of them:

  1. Machu Picchu: This iconic site, welcoming 1.5 million visitors annually, tops the list of Peru’s most visited highlights (unsurprisingly). Despite its popularity, Machu Picchu retains an air of mystery and magic, honestly! We recommend reaching it via our Coffee Routes, offering a unique approach to this much-loved landmark.
  2. Cusco and Sacsayhuaman: Coming in second place is the city of Cusco and the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman. The latter, perched above Cusco, is often included in city tours. We offer a RESPONSible alternative – our Walking Tour of Cusco, developed during our time as RESPONSible Travel Peru.
  3. The Sacred Valley of the Incas: The living culture and archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley attract numerous travelers each year. It’s a destination that embodies Impactful Travel’s core principles, offering a wide range of community-based and adventure tourism experiences.
  4. Lima: Depending on how you count, Lima could be first on the list, too. The city’s historic center and gastronomic delights are major draws for international visitors, along with the many significant events held throughout the year. The city provides incredible experiences for both highlight travelers and intrepid adventurers who prefer to explore off the beaten path.
  5. Titicaca Lake: Around 17% of all international travelers to Peru visit this awe-inspiring natural landscape and cultural hotspot. It’s also one of Peru’s hotspots for community-based tourism experiences, offering opportunities to escape the masses and experience the real Titicaca.
  6. Arequipa and Colca Canyon: These two captivating attractions never fail to mesmerize visitors with their distinctive charm and awe-inspiring natural beauty. The Colca Canyon is often explored on the journey from Arequipa to Puno. Continue reading to discover further details about our Highlight tours in the Colca Canyon.
  7. Paracas Reserve: Unfortunately, governmental restrictions limit our possibilities to offer alternatives to the Ballestas Islands excursions, undoubtedly the main highlight of Paracas. However, we do offer off-the-beaten-path tours that equally celebrate the natural beauty and marine biodiversity of this stunning park.
  8. Puerto Maldonado (Tambopata or Madre de Dios area): Renowned for its lush jungles, this captivating destination entices countless wanderers in search of an authentic rainforest experience. From budget-friendly to luxurious, a plethora of jungle lodges offer a diverse range of immersive encounters. Thanks to its convenient accessibility, Puerto Maldonado is Peru’s most popular jungle destination. There are, however, alternatives that we’ll reveal below.

Going Beyond the Highlights: Our Unique Alternatives

Many highlights are truly unique and cannot be replicated. Moreover, thankfully, most regions are spacious enough to steer clear of the crowds within the destination and uncover the lesser-explored corners. However, we can suggest some hidden gems as alternatives to popular destinations or attractions in Peru that are off the beaten path.

Alternatives to Machu Picchu

Although Machu Picchu is undoubtedly a remarkable destination that attracts many visitors, there are other awe-inspiring pre-Columbian architectural sites and archaeological wonders to explore. One notable alternative is Choquequirao, a site similar to Machu Picchu but with fewer crowds due to its limited accessibility (for now). Additionally, the archaeological sites near Trujillo, such as the Huacas and Chan-Chan, will transport you back in time and leave you in awe. Another advantage is their proximity to Lima and their location at sea level.

Alternative to The Sacred Valley

Venture between Chachapoyas and Leymebamba to uncover the hidden gem of the Utcubamba valley. This authentic mountain region is brimming with charming pueblos and captivating archaeological sites, offering an unforgettable experience for adventurous cultural explorers. While it must be acknowledged that no valley truly rivals the Sacred Valley’s fusion of grand archaeological wonders, vibrant living culture, and comprehensive tourist amenities, the Utcubamba valley promises its own unique allure.

Alternatives to the Colca Canyon

The same Utcubamba Valley near Chachapoyas offers breathtaking landscapes and opportunities to spot condors. For a more fitting alternative with a similar volcanic landscape and local culture, consider the Valle de los Volcanes (although it requires more travel). Another option you might consider, is the Callejón de Huaylas, a valley around Huaraz, where you can enjoy magnificent trekkings and mountain vistas. Don’t miss the chance to visit Vicos to add an authentic cultural experience.

Alternatives to the oasis of Huacachina (Ica)

As you can read here, we haven’t offered Huacachina for years, and we take pride in that. Our alternative tours, which combine Ica and Nazca, provide similar experiences without the crowds, while also promoting positive impacts. Join us as we take you from the Paracas area to Nazca.

Alternatives to the Tambopata jungle

Manu and Iquitos are the first destinations that come to mind. Discover the differences between these three jungle destinations and learn more about them here. For a more adventurous experience, consider exploring the area around Tarapoto. Although not as low as Tambopata, it offers remarkable biodiversity and the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture!

Sustainability in Tourism: How Our Highlight Tours in Peru Make a Positive Impact

Ever wondered how we at Impactful Travel transform popular tours into sustainable journeys brimming with authentic experiences? How do we ensure our tours tread lightly on the environment while boosting local communities? Let’s pull back the curtain and show you how!

Our Highlight tours, due to their popularity, provide a golden opportunity to “sustainabilize” a significant portion of travel experiences. Each tour comes with its own Impact Score, showcasing the positive influence it has on its destination. Sure, these aren’t our highest-scoring tours, but their popularity means they have the power to reshape traveler habits and bring about meaningful change at popular tourist spots.

Plus, our tours have become a beacon for other agencies looking to create more authentic experiences. We’ve sparked a trend towards genuine, respectful exchanges with locals, where fair pay is a given. The ripple effect from our tours is something even our off-the-beaten-path offerings might be a tad envious of!

Making Tours More Sustainable – Strategies You Can Spot

So, how do we sprinkle sustainability over our tours? Here are four strategies we weave into most of our experiences:

  1. Embrace Slow Travel: By favoring walking or cycling over motorized transport, using public transportation, or tweaking our routes to follow the ‘less is more’ principle (less attractions, more experience), our Highlight tours can slash CO2 emissions by 80% to 100% compared to traditional tours.
  2. Foster Local Connections: We enrich both the traveler’s journey and local lives by fostering moments of authentic interaction. All encounters are respectful, with locals fairly compensated for the value they add to the tour.
  3. Promote Community-Based Tourism: This strategy takes local connections a step further. On multi-day tours, we swap city hotels for rural homestays. Instead of mediocre buffet lunches, you’ll share meals with your host family. Free afternoons are spent in local thermal baths under the stars, not crowded hotel pools. And rather than scrolling through news on your phone, you’ll be learning about local crops or herding llamas. Now that’s the real Peru!
  4. Seek Out Alternative Destinations: Sometimes, there’s an alternative spot that offers a similar experience, minus the crowds. These are places where your tourist dollar can make a real difference.

Here at Impactful Travel, we’re not just about seeing the sights. We’re about transformational experiences that respect the environment, uplift communities, and leave a positive footprint. So, let’s embark on a journey that goes beyond the ordinary!

Discover the Difference: Examples of Our Highlight Tours in Peru

Imagine a friend who’s been to Peru countless times, guiding you through the vibrant streets and hidden gems of this beautiful country. That’s us, Impactful Travel, sharing our favorite sustainable tours that transform popular routes into immersive, eco-friendly journeys. Let’s dive in!

Transforming City Tours into Walking Adventures

In Peru’s three main tourist cities, we have created Half-Day Walking Tours in collaboration with our local guides. These tours aim to enhance your experience by focusing on a select number of attractions. We also prioritize minimizing motorized transport to reduce our carbon footprint. Additionally, our tours offer opportunities for genuine interactions with locals at markets or cafes run by local associations.

Experience the real Peru with our Walking Tours in Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco!

The Southern Loop: A Journey from A to C

Travelers often explore the southern loop from Lima to Arequipa, passing by the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, to Cusco. We’ve reimagined this journey with our own “From A to C Experiences”, offering an Impactful twist on the traditional itinerary.

  • Arequipa to Puno: Everyone visits the Colca Canyon for its breathtaking landscapes and the majestic Andean Condor. But we take the experience further. We partner with the Coporaque community for meals, accommodation, and activities, enhancing the experience while supporting local livelihoods. Choose between our two-day and three-day versions – no excuse to miss out!
  • Puno to Cusco: Instead of a rushed day trip on Lake Titicaca followed by another night in the city of Puno and then a long bus ride, we offer a tranquil alternative. Spend a day exploring remote corners of the lake, unwind at a guesthouse with stunning views, and travel onwards to Cusco the next day. Such a contrast! There’s also a three-day option, packed with authentic experiences and efficient transportation. Make every minute of your vacation count!

Reach Machu Picchu on Foot, Minus the Crowds

The Inca Trail is a classic – and rightly so – but if you’re seeking a quieter, more intimate experience, our Coffee Routes might be the perfect fit. Expect Inca paths, spectacular landscapes, delicious food, comfortable accommodations, and a full coffee experience in the jungle. Choose from our three versions available directly on our platform: a short three-day tour, an adventurous four-day trek, or a diverse four-day journey.

Join us at Impactful Travel and let’s make every journey a story worth telling, where travel leads to personal growth and leaves a positive impact. Ready to embark on a transformative adventure?

How to Book Your Highlight Tours in Peru

So, you’ve caught the travel bug, and our Highlight Tours have piqued your interest. You’re picturing yourself wandering through the bustling streets of Lima or sipping on freshly brewed coffee in the Peruvian jungle. But what’s next? How do you turn these daydreams into reality? Fret not! At Impactful Travel, we make booking your adventure as easy as pie. Here are three ways you can join us:

1. Be Your Own Travel Planner:

Fancy designing your own trip through Peru? We’ve got you covered. Choose your own tours from our platform, book your accommodations and transportation by yourself, and keep full control of your itinerary. Remember, we need a few days’ notice for some of our tours to ensure availability and coordinate with our local hosts. They’re just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them!

2. Sit Back and Let Us Work Our Magic:

If you’d rather leave the planning to us, we’re more than happy to help. Our platform tours are just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to a custom trip, the sky’s the limit! One of our travel designers will chat with you and your travel companions to understand your preferences and craft a tailor-made itinerary that hits all the right notes. Want to stick close to the popular routes or venture off the beaten path? Or perhaps a bit of both? You got it! From the moment you touch down at Lima airport to the time you board your flight home, we’ll take care of every little detail. Just sit back and look forward to the trip of a lifetime. Ready to start planning? Start building your custom trip here.

3. Join our Fixed Departure Tours and embark on an extraordinary journey with like-minded travelers!

Join our Fixed Departure Tours for a remarkable journey with fellow travelers who share your interests! Whether you’re a solo adventurer, a family seeking connections, or a woman wanting like-minded companions, our tours cater to your style. At Impactful Travel, we believe shared experiences forge lasting bonds. And it saves money, too! Explore Peru’s highlights or other destinations with passionate sustainable travelers. Swap stories, create friendships, and immerse in local culture. Check all our fixed departures here (soon online!)


In conclusion, our Highlight Tours in Peru offer you an unparalleled adventure that combines sightseeing with social impact. Whether you choose to explore the southern loop from Lima to Arequipa or reach Machu Picchu on foot minus the crowds, each journey is filled with genuine local interactions, breathtaking landscapes, and unique experiences. Impactful Travel not only takes you to the heart of Peru but also creates positive impacts on our visited destinations and their people, bringing you the true essence of sustainable tourism.

Booking your dream trip is a breeze with our two flexible options. You can either design your own itinerary with our carefully curated tours, or let our travel designers weave their magic to create a custom trip tailored to your preferences.

At Impactful Travel, your journey can be much more than just a vacation; it’s a story worth telling, a personal growth opportunity, and a chance to leave a positive impact. So what are you waiting for? Embark on a transformative adventure with us – book your Peru Highlight Tour or Custom Adventures in Peru, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands today and make your travel truly impactful!

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Impactful Travel's mission is to empower transformative journeys through sustainable and responsible experiences, we are committed to enriching lives - both for travelers and local communities in Latin America.

We seek to connect meaningful tourism experiences with a committed global audience, enhancing communities and encouraging sustainable choices.

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


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