©Mark Green/Alamy Stock Photo

Central Highlands

If it’s breathtaking ancient ruins or immersion in uninterrupted wilderness that you crave during your journey, listen up. The rocky, remote Central Highlands can match Peru's better known destinations for these things and more – with the almost absolute absence of other travelers.

This sector of the Andes is Peru at its most Peruvian reaching its zenith from Easter to July during its myriad fiestas. Travel here is not for the fainthearted. But adventure-spirited souls will discover better insights into local life than are possible elsewhere: bonding with fellow passengers on bumpy buses perhaps or hiking into high hills to little-visited Inca palaces.

Life in this starkly beautiful region is lived off the land: more donkeys than cars often ply its roads and bright indigenous dress predominates in communities housing Peru’s best handicrafts. The soaring, lake-studded mountains often almost seem to shield the Central Highlands from the 21st century.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Central Highlands.