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Geography of Peru

Peru geography is full of contrasts, from coastal deserts to the Andes mountains

At just over 798,000 square miles, Peru is the third largest country in South America, about five times larger than the UK and five times smaller than Australia. It lies in the tropics south of the equator and is divided into three very different geographical regions: the Pacific coastal strip, the Andes mountains and the Amazonian lowlands.

Deserts of the Coastal Region

The narrow coastal strip consists mainly of desert, merging at its southern end into the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. The coast includes Lima, the capital, and several major cities that are oases watered by about 40 rivers that cascade from the Andes. These oases have been developed as agricultural centers where the creation of irrigation channels over the centuries has utilized the fertile soil deposited as silt by the rivers. It's a strange sight to see the green fields morph into sandy or rocky desert at the point where irrigation ends.

The Andean Region

The Andes, the world's second highest mountain chain, reach over 20,000 feet just 60 miles inland. Peru's highest peak, Huascaran (22,200 ft), is the world's highest tropical peak and the sixth highest in the Americas. Tropical they may be, but the Andes have year-round glaciers above 16,000 feet. Between 10,000 and 13,000 feet lie agricultural lands supporting half of Peru's population. The rugged landscape brims with jagged ranges separated by deep canyons, rewarding travellers with spectacular scenery. The eastern Andean slopes receive much rainfall and are clothed in green cloud forests as they drop into the Amazon basin.

Andean region of Peru

The Amazon Basin

The Amazon Basin stretches down the eastern side of Peru and represents more than half of the country. This vast tropical forest is fed by countless rivers and streams including the Amazon, Maranon, Hallaga and Ucayali rivers.

Here's a video of the Tambopata Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon, shot during our 'Jaguar' trip:

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 943 reviews)

    Worth every penny!

    As someone who mostly travels independently, the thought of signing up for a two week organized group trip was rather intimidating but after reading all the reviews for Active, I thought I would give it a try... and I am so glad I did! Active Adventures made everything flow effortlessly- from the second I signed up until we were dropped of at the airport. The itinerary for the Condor trip is phenomenal, covering lots of different areas of Southern Patagonia and highlighting the most beautiful places. The W trek was one of the highlights of the trip and was even more enjoyable thanks to our guide, Cem, who was a wealth of knowledge about the flora and fauna and brought such a fun energy to the group. Additionally, our tour leader, Zac, had such a positive spirit, strong sense of humor and passion for his work that showed during our two weeks getting to know him. He was so well organized and made sure everything was lined up so we could relax and enjoy our downtime- including nailing a birthday dinner and cake! Would highly recommend this trip and organization to anyone in the future!
    Laura Postles Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Condor, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 943 reviews)

    Beautiful Scenery and Great Hikes

    My husband has wanted to do this trip for several years. I hesitated as the Refugio stays were way out of my comfort zone. The whole trip was great, and even the Refugio’s were ok. Our guide Cynthia was just amazing - she knows what she’s doing, is prepared for everything, and was very encouraging. I really don’t know how she did it all! We were with a great group of people, and feel we have gained new friends that we hope to meet on another trail some day.
    Cathy Tileston Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Condor, March 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 943 reviews)

    Fantabulous

    A simply amazing trip-- pristine scenery, magical and majestic mountains, and all coordinated seamlessly by a fantastic trip leader and guides. Our family of seven-- spanning the ages of 78 to 12-- was perfectly supported, educated, and delighted by Arturo our trip leader and the local guides. They are all kind, fun, and experienced. Cem was true to his name, a gem, ever so patient with those of us with sore joints, and always with a sparkle or story to share.
    Krista Toomre Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.50 out of 5 (from 1973 reviews)

    BEST TRIP EVER!!!

    First of all, I want to say what a FANTASTIC "Jaguar" trip we had with Active Adventures in Peru. After talking with many other travellers we meet in Peru, Active Adventures were head and shoulders above other tour groups. They meet and exceeded my expectations. Thanks to the best guides "Eric" and our 4 day Inca hike Guide "Puma". They started as our guides and we finished as friends.
    Kathleen Bowser Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Jaguar 2017, November 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 943 reviews)

    See the best of Patagonia and eat like a king!

    Great itinerary to see Chilean and Argentine Patagonia! While many people come to hike Torres del Paine, which is awesome, I thought Mount Fit Roy and Cerro Torre were even more spectacular in Argentina! Wished we could have hiked to more places in Argentina. Also loved the food and the ability to choose your own meals! I ate like a king!
    Patrick Nguyen Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Condor, February 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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