From ancient Incan citadels to a rich gastronomy scene, it’s easy to forget amidst the pisco sours that Peru is known for its incredibly abundant and diverse wildlife. Did you know that an incredible 1 in 10 of the planet’s species is found in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest?
Having spent two years discovering the far less varied wildlife of the UK’s own more urban jungles; it’s now time to start treating ourselves to the experiences we deserve. So, to get you started with your planning, we’ve broken down some of the top wildlife experiences you should look to include on your big trip to Peru…
The smaller, fluffier cousin of a llama, alpacas can be distinguished by their shorter faces and are highly prized for their fine fleece. You’ll find clothing made from Alpaca Wool at shops throughout your stay in Peru, keeping you warm for your time in the Andes or making lovely souvenirs for family and friends. They love the highlands and will be quite easy to spot on a trip to Cusco, Machu Picchu or a scenic journey up to Lake Titicaca.
Also known as “pink dolphins” Amazon river dolphins are born grey but turn increasingly pink as they age – supposedly turning even brighter pink when they’re excited. You can probably guess where you’d find these just from their name: these mammals swim the freshwater of the Amazon River near Iquitos in Northern Peru and are a natural highlight of any stay in the rainforest. They also have 40% more brain capacity than humans, so we know they’re onto something when they’ve chosen Peru as their home!
The strength and agility of Pumas were so revered by the ancient Incan civilisations that it has been said that Cusco was laid out in the shape of one, with the temple of Saqsayhuaman forming its head and jaws. As elusive as they are beautiful, a sighting can never be guaranteed, so stick around for a longer stay in Peru for the best chance of catching this big cat, also known as the Andean Mountain Lion. Truly a once in a lifetime sight, if you happen to be so lucky.
You’ve seen them on TV and in every one of your childhood nightmares; now see them up close and personal while you fish for them in the Amazon! One of our personal favourites, piranha fishing encapsulates the exoticism of a Peruvian holiday. It’s also a firm favourite with anyone who was tried fishing and finds it slow with few results – in only an hour you’ll have more than enough for a lovely lunch, skilfully prepared back at your lodge. And don’t worry: if you choose to go for a swim in the river on another day, that will be in a very different stretch of water to the piranha-infested fishing areas.
Paddington Bear was modelled off of this bear from deepest, darkest Peru, and just like Paddington, they’re known to have a sweet tooth! With a population of around forty bears in the area around Machu Picchu, these are best seen in the wild on a 4 Day Inca Trail hike. But if you’re short on time, you can also visit them at a small sanctuary by treating yourself to a stay at Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel.
Known for their vibrant plumage and their ability to perfectly mimic human voices, these beautiful birds can be found all across the rainforest, gliding right over your head. But to get the best sight of them, take a boat tour past the clay licks on the banks of the Amazon. It’s here that macaws come to land and stock up on the salt deposits found in the earth, and you’ll often see mating pairs and large groups sitting around in picture-perfect fashion along the riverside.
Possibly a surprise to you, but even penguins can be found in Peru! These flightless birds can be spotted on a tour of the Ballestas. These islands, which are found just off the coast of the mainland, can easily be visited on an overnight trip down from Lima. The boat tour also offers opportunities to spot other sea life, such as sea lions and Guanay cormorants.
Are you a fan of things that go bump in the night? For all things creepy and crawly, try a night tour down the river. The nocturnal wildlife in Peru includes everything from frogs to caiman crocodiles, from river snakes to tarantulas. Keep your head up and listen to the forest come to life under the light of the Milky Way, which is visible in the pollution-free night sky.
With a wingspan of over 10ft, the Andean condor is one of the world’s largest birds that’s able to fly. As their name suggests, you’ll find these condors in the peaks of the Andes, in particular the Colca Canyon, where they glide along the bustling winds at high altitudes. You’ll recognise them by their white “collar” markings around their necks, their bald heads, and by the fact that they are, frankly, enormous.
Everyone’s favourite sluggard mammals, sloths move so slowly that their bodies are covered in mosses and lichens that let them blend in with their natural environment. Lovable, sweet, and a little goofy looking, you’ll find them hanging off tree branches in the Peruvian rainforest. And if you come back two hours later, you’ll still find them hanging exactly where you left them, watching the world pass by in easy, breezy leisure.
Experience these animals, and more, for yourself on an incredible holiday to Peru.
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