peru-drive-car

If you spend some time meandering through Peru, especially around the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you’ll see vistas out the window that blow away most of the scenery you’ve seen from a vehicle window anywhere. If you want to go straight to the best of the best, be sure to travel along the road from the archeological site of Ankasmarka to Lares. This is a prime contender for the most scenic drive in Peru. If you go a bit further to Quiawarani or Cuncani, there are some terrific hikes once the vehicle is parked.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about how too many people hurry through Peru, the usual visitor to this attraction-packed country zips through it in the minimum amount of time and then puts a check mark on the mental travel to-do list. When I was on the Lares Adventure with a small group, we pulled up to the gorgeous pre-Inca Ankamarka site and had views like this all to ourselves.

Ankasmarca ruins

We had no idea, however, that the impressive drive up here was just a prelude. “The road building company got paid by the meter,” said our guide and on that note we got into the vans and made our way down the winding highway.

This is the kind of road where you don’t mind the meandering though. There are lots of switchbacks and hairpin turns, but each time you round another corner you can’t help but say, “Wow…look at that.” The clouds dance across the tops of the jagged peaks, with farm terraces below them and a carpet of green all around. Llamas with bells around their neck munch on grass and every once in a while take off together in a chorus of ringing.

There’s water water everywhere if you come after February, when this whole area gets drenched. You’ll pass dramatic waterfalls and cross rivers on bridges. This goes on through the high season of summer, the clouds pulling back further into the sky and the sun asserting its authority from June through October.

Since you should take your time exploring Peru, the ideal strategy on your own is to rent a car in Lima and then road trip it down to Arequipa and maybe Lake Titicaca before heading to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. See our reviews of the best hotels in Peru to figure out where to stay and then enjoy the rides in between.

You should explore the non-road parts of the Lares region of the Sacred Valley though after your scenic drives in Peru. Get a good workout hiking through the Andes Mountains, get onto the Lares Adventure so you can rest your weary legs in comfort each night.