A little further down the South American backpacking trail is the expansive capital city of Peru. Within Lima, you can make a visit to the ancient catacombs underneath the Monastery of San Francisco for a spooky look at history. The bohemian district of Barranco has some fascinating street art, beach access, and a lively nightlife scene. Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan empire, is just a one hour flight from Lima in the Peruvian Andes. This is the traditional jumping-off point for a visit to Machu Picchu.
While most tourists think a trip to Peru starts and ends with Machu Picchu, the country actually offers a number of other highlights worth your time. The village of Lunahuaná, south of Lima, provides both a whitewater rafting experience and a great opportunity to stargaze the southern sky. To the north of Lima, you can make your way into the Amazon via Iquitos, where you’ll have the chance to take a jungle excursion down the river and be among the pink dolphins, sloths, anacondas, and other wildlife unique to this region. The salt flats of Bolivia are further south of Lima.
Flights to Lima: These are among the cheapest per-mile flights you can get from North America to South America. As with Colombia, the somewhat recent addition of JetBlue, additional coverage from Aeromexico, the recent addition of Interjet flights, and the continued presence of Spirit have kept this a very competitive market. I often find round-trip fares in the mid-$200s to $500s from a wide range of cities and airlines.